Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Holiday Shopping, in the bag

The other day I mentioned that rain barrels make great gifts for the holidays. Well, here's another idea for eco-friendly gifts that are guaranteed to get plenty of use, especially if given early - reusable shopping bags.

I know that may not SOUND very exciting, but everyone needs these handy shopping bags, and they are available in all sorts of sizes and styles that help take the drudgery out of dragging around your shopping. My favorites are the kind that you can fold up and carry in your purse.

Plastic shopping bags have long been a bane to the environment. The United States uses about 100 billion disposable shopping bags per year, made with 12 million barrels of oil. If disposed of improperly, these bags pollute our waterways and taxpayers end up footing the bill to clean up this polluting plastic.

Several years ago, DC enacted a 5 cent bag fee for plastic bags. The result? In the first month of its implementation, plastic bag use fell by 19 million bags! Starting in January 2012, a five-cent bag fee will go into effect in Montgomery County and discussions for similar fees are still under way for areas such as Prince George's County.

I’m excited about this news! In the Anacostia streams in Prince George's County (and likely in many other streams in the area), disposable shopping bags are the single largest type of trash.

I have to admit, I was a (reusable) “bag lady” long before it was either chic or cheap to do so. In fact, I take a little pride in carrying bags that help “advertise” some of my favorite causes and charities.

So when you are trying to come up with gift ideas for your hard-to-shop-for friends on your holiday list, think of reusable bags. In fact, why not skip the wrapping paper and DELIVER your holiday gifts in re-usable bags. You’ll be helping the environment by keeping the wrapping paper out of the landfill and providing a much needed eco-tote for your friends.

Here are some ideas for re-useable shopping bags suitable for gift giving:
1) Reusable shopping bag – folds up and fits on a key ring – 3 for $5.99
2) Reusable shopping bag – folds into a strawberry!
3) Make it personal – instructions for making a fold-up shopping bag
4) Or knit one! – I like to knit in front of the TV so this pattern works for me
5) How to wrap a gift in a reusable bag
6) Add your art, slogan or photo – Cafe Press and other sources let you design your own bag.

And if you don't understand the importance of "banning the bag", here's a great video that was created for another great Bay -San Francisco Bay - but it definitely gets the point across in a BIG way.

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