Give Yourself (and Mother Earth) a Makeover in 5 Easy Steps

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What is this ugly accessory that’s dragging us down? Come on, we all know what it is. Let’s lose the frumpy plastic shopping bags, already! By continuing to use plastic shopping bags, we’re just making everything uglier! Did you know that each of us can avoid 200 plastic bags every year by using stylish & sturdy reusable bags?

It’s time for a serious makeover, and it starts with you. Just say no to plastic bags! All it takes is a little bit of planning and effort. So if you’re ready to start shopping in style, here are some tips to get you started:

1. First, you need to find the right bags.

Here are the most important things to look for:

  • Sturdy material. Remember when those off-white canvas totes were all the rage? Chances are, you still see them around – lugging library books, diaper supplies, even knitting materials. That’s because certain materials like canvas last a long time. So find bags in a material that’s durable and be done with it!
  • Classic fashion. You shop around for the perfect little black dress, right? The one you’ll be able to wear to any event, any time of year. Think that way when selecting your shopping totes! Consider what styles you’ll never get tired of seeing when you’re at the grocery store, the mall or the book shop. Check out for some great options!
  • Sized right. No one in their right mind would buy clothing without checking the size first, to make sure it will fit. Think about that when choosing a reusable shopping bag! It’s best to get a few in different sizes for different needs. You’ll want a smaller bag for dense, heavy items like canned goods and a bigger bag for bigger, lighter purchases like bread and chips.
  • Variety. Your closet has variety, doesn’t it? Just like different shades of blue denim, you’ll want variety in your shopping bags. Look for some small, mesh, drawstring bags specifically designed to carry fresh produce. Check out some that fold up small, some that are made of stretchy material and others that have extra support, like a padded shoulder strap, for long journeys ahead of them (a must for city dwellers without cars).
  • Speaking of extra support… No one likes melted ice cream, spoiled milk or rotten meat! It’s crucial to have a few bags with the power to keep things cold. Look for bags that are specially made to maintain their cool and still look hot.

2. Declutter.

As with all great makeovers, you must declutter the old to make room for the new!

  • Repurpose. Here’s a tip from Blue Avocado: Find a local designer who works with plastics/materials – check out Craigslist!
  • Recycle (and Reduce). Here’s a tip from Plastic bags can be recycled. Although, unlike plastic bottles, many curbside programs will not accept plastic bags, many major grocery chains now accept plastic bags and plastic wrap at their stores! To really help cut down on waste, remember to reduce (Do you really need a bag for that DVD?) and then recycle. Visit to find your nearest drop-off location and start recycling!
  • Upcycle There are surprisingly a lot of fun crafts & projects that you can do at home with plastic bags. You can make a messenger bag, make plastic bag yarn and get inspired with these great items all made from plastic bag trash!

3. Don’t forget your bags!

If you’re already toting reusable shopping bags, you’re on your way to becoming a style maven. That is, as long as you’re remembering to bring them with you when you go shopping – we all forget sometimes, trust us! Here are some helpful tips to make reusable bags a part of your routine:

  • Putting a little tag or note for the car, milk jug, key chain or door.
  • Write “bring bags” at the top of your shopping list.
  • Keep two or three extra bags in the trunk of your car.
  • Once you get home and unpack the bags, put them back where they belong immediately.

4. Reap the Benefits

There are many retailers (like CVS and Whole Foods) who offer rewards or cash-back programs for shoppers who bring in their own reusable bags. Keep your eye out for these retailers, and be sure to participate!

5. So are you ready to get the ball rolling?

Check out the Billion Bag Pledge at Blue Avocado to get even more pumped up about your shopping makeover! Or get inspired by this video:

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2 Comments for “Give Yourself (and Mother Earth) a Makeover in 5 Easy Steps”

  • princess fifi trixibelleNo Gravatar


    check out for the REAL BIG BAG. It is an enourmous bag that is big enough to hold three frozen turkeys no kidding.

    100% strong duck canvas that is indestructible – it is only $14 and I’ve had mine for over 10 years and it is still in good shape. it is the kind of canvas tote bag that folks who deliver newspapers use. it has a wide sturdy strap that you can put over your shoulder sideways in order to balance a heavy load. i take it to the farmers market to go shopping and it will hold one weeks groceries, yeah it is REALLY big bag.

    everything dharma trading sells is fair trade – lots of silk, bamboo, soy and hemp fabric really really low prices like so cheap they might as well give it away and they don’t scorch you on shipping

    dharmatrading co was founded by a hippie in the 1960′s and now is a huge company but with a good heart – their stuff is really unique and funky

  • I reuse my plastic grocery bags for trash bags. Why pay for trash bags when I can get them free? We try to find ways to reduce our trash when we can, like using cloth diapers, composting, and recycling, so it takes a few days for our family of 6 to fill one up. But dog food bags and bulk grain bags from our co-op work pretty well too, so I might be able to ditch most of the plastic ones in the future.

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