Green Design - Shopping Bags

By Sarah Van Arsdale on November 17th, 2008

Fabulous design. Cutting edge looks. Interesting twists in color, fabric, and texture. These are all elements inherent in design that's ecologically sound. Yes, your creativity can have free reign even as you make choices that help protect the planet. Increasingly, manufacturers are creating products that have minimal impact on the environment, whether because they're made from organically-grown cotton or because they're made with renewable resources. We think environmentally friendly design is so important that we recently added a Green Design lesson to the NYIAD Complete Course in Interior Design.

In our "Decorating Green" column we'll look at a sustainable, low-impact element of design in each issue of "Designer Monthly." We hope these articles will help us all help the planet and the many creatures that share it with us.

To market, to market. Time was going to market meant trundling down to town center once a week to select vegetables from Farmer Jones, tucking them into a canvas sack, and trundling them home again.

Fast forward to the age of the plastic bag, and watch the landfill grow.

We all know by now that using a new plastic bag for each shopping trip, or even using a new paper bag, is contributing to the environmental problems we have. Plus, where do you put them all? Everyone, it seems, has a box, bag, cabinet or an entire spare storage room dedicated to the storage of plastic shopping bags.

It's time to stop the madness.

Green Shopping BagsAnd yet, what’s a shopper to do? You don’t want to schlep around town carrying a bunch of old plastic bags. And you don’t want to use a string bag and worry if the little things like dental floss or tiny bottles of eye cream will be lost along the way. And of course you don’t want to look as if you care only about the environment at the expense of looking fabulous.

Don't worry. Even as you read this, designers are hard at work developing reusable shopping bags that are sturdy, easy to clean (in case of spillage), and look great.

Sheffield Top Tip: If you don’t want to have to carry empty bags around all day until you fill them, try these from Green Home: they're so lightweight and compact you won't even know they're in your purse or tote bag. You can just carry one at all times in case you come across a great deal on kohlrabi or broccolini.

Earthchic Shopping BagsGreen Home also has bags that are stylish totebags, in a range of styles and sizes.

The bags made by Earthchic are remarkable in that as the name says, they look chic, but they are made of 100% recycled plastic bottles — so not only are you doing a good deed by reusing your bag, but you’re helping provide a new, purposeful life to those old plastic bottles — it takes about ten bottles to make one Earthchic bag.

The Earthchic bags come in those most chic, go-with-anything-colors: black and white, and can fit a small load of groceries.

Eco-Artware Shopping BagsIf you have a bigger shopping trip in mind, these bags from fit the bill. They're big, water repellent, and inexpensive; just the thing for keeping a stack of them in the trunk of the car for your big supermarket trips.

You don’t have to wait for marketing day to use recycled and recyclable bags.

For a colorful look, and again for something that itself is made of recycled materials, check out this crazy thing from woven from recycled juice boxes. Don’t worry, the boxes are thoroughly washed and cleaned before being braided into their new life as an evening clutch. For a more sophisticated bag, they make the same bag in silver.

Woven Shopping Bags

With the variety of recycled bags for both shopping and fashionware, you never again need to use a new plastic bag and then wonder where you’re going to put it when you get home.