Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Earth Day 2014: Beyond the Reusable Shopping Bag

I've been shopping with reusable bags for years now. I carry grocery size bags in my trunk and foldable bags in my handbag so that I can be prepared to say no to plastic and paper wherever I go. If I forget to bring my own bags I try to only buy what I can carry out without a bag. If it happens that I do leave with a disposable bag, I try my best to reuse it as a trash liner or properly recycle it. It seems like I've been bringing reusable bags shopping forever.

1940s Bring Your Own Shopping Bag and Shopping Bag Pattern
Maybe that’s just me channeling my 1940s spirit who was bringing their reusable bag shopping to save paper for the war effort. Vintage shoppers often used crocheted bags that could be made at home. If you weren't crafty, a picnic basket worked just fine for a quick grocery trip. It wasn't until the 1960s that plastic, or single use, bags were introduced to shoppers. There is no question that accepting a single use bag for your purchase is easier then remembering to pack your own bags, but if our grandmothers could make the extra effort in war time, we should be able to help eliminate single use bags today.

Since I've been toting along my reusable bags, I've also started to find other ways to eliminate single use products like plastic sandwich bags and plastic water bottles. By raising the bar for myself, I know that I am doing a part everyday in being more sustainable and eliminating waste. At Expo West I was introduced to three new products that have helped me lessen my carbon footprint by decreasing the amount of waste I produce.

I've raved about my love for Chico Bags in past Earth Day posts, and now have a new reusable bag company that I love for a different purpose. While Chico Bags make awesome, compact shopping bags that fit well into my handbag or center console in my car, Blue Avocado makes great bags for smaller uses when taking snacks and other food on the go. Blue Avocado’s (re)zip line is a replacement for single use sandwich bags. Their products are created to be no hassle and can be machine washed and then air dried. I received one of their fold up shopping bags in a media bag and have been using it as a lunch bag. On the Expo floor I received a zippered bag that is the size of a large storage bag. So far I've used it to store cookies in. The downside to this bag is the fabric edge that takes a while to dry. Since it is a zippered closure, it isn't air tight. At the Expo, Blue Avocado was debuting their new clear food storage bags that will come in the same sizes as single use storage bags. They have a different closure and hopefully will create a more air tight seal.

In the kitchen I store a variety of goods in Mason jars. In addition to the food I preserve, I also store flours, powders, syrups and other foods in jars. I've been using the white screw on lids made by Ball, but since they don’t have a seal, they leak. If I’m keeping liquids in jars I especially don’t want to store it with a metal ring long term since the ring will start to rust. This is especially true for the jars I keep in the bathroom with scrubs or other beauty care items. I was hoping I’d run into other Mason jar lovers that would have a solution with a non-rusting lid that sealed. When I discovered Intelligent Lids, they had rusty lids sitting next to their one piece sealing lids demonstrating exactly what I was looking for. Their lids come in regular and wide mouth and in a variety of bold colors. The one piece storage lids are designed for easier stacking which is awesome for cabinet storage. I've been getting well acquainted with their drinking lid which has made taking drinks on the go more convenient.

Since you can usually find me drinking water, I’m always on the lookout for a great water bottle. I’m totally weird about my reusable water bottles. I don’t want to deal with a screw on lid or something too time consuming. When I found my Ello glass water bottle that has a cork style lid that is held in place by a bit of silicone, I was sold. I was, however paranoid that I would break it, since it is a glass water bottle. [Knock on wood] It has been a few months now and I haven’t had any issues. Since we don’t have a dishwasher, I use white vinegar to clean and disinfect the inside of the bottle once a week and rinse with hot water daily. This has kept my bottle clean, especially since I only use it for water. For the gym I do not trust myself to take my glass water bottle, so I have an Ello BPA free plastic water bottle that also is easy to open. I bought each water bottle at different times, and later noticed that they were the same brand.

I've been using Blender Bottles for my post workout drink for years and love them. When I saw their booth at Expo West I was excited to learn about the GoStak, their new stackable containers that are perfect for (you guessed it) on the go! The containers come in different sizes and twist onto one another. I can’t wait to take these guys hiking. They are perfect for snacks and because they are slim, fit in the water holders on the side of my backpack.

Share your beyond the reusable bag suggestions in the comments! I’m always looking for new ways to be green and I hope you are too.

***Keeping it real! Although some items were received with the intention of reviewing them, I was not paid to do so. This is not a sponsored post and all views are my own.

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