Today, I bring you a cornucopia of cool cloth carriers also known as reusable bags.

Most of us know that plastic bags are petroleum-based products that do not easily degrade. These bags create greenhouse gases that are pumped into the atmosphere and are harmful to the physical environment.

What many of us don’t realize is that over 500 billion plastic bags are being manufactured each year with only 1-3% being recycled, according to the EPA. Plastic accounts for nearly 80% of floating debris in our water sources. It makes sense to say no to plastic. Paper sacks also wreak havoc on Mother Earth generating 70% more air pollution than plastic bags and taking 91% more energy to recycle than plastic (Worldwatch Institute). China has adopted a ban on plastic bags as have five California cities, including San Francisco and Malibu, and hopefully Oak Park isn’t far behind.

It was an easy choice to invest in a cloth tote bag and kick the plastic bag habit a few years ago. I came home with a bright pink flowered bag for my best friend and I to use. “Look! We can both use this when we go shopping,” I exclaimed. He cocked his head to one side and said nothing.

I wasn’t sure how to interpret his silence. After all, he’s a tree hugger (that is, he subscribes to, he is passionate about sustainable energy, and he was the one who introduced me to the documentary The Cove (I highly recommend it). It became clear when a day later he came home and unveiled his own finding: a Chicago Bears reusable bag.

I assure you: there is a reusable bag out there for everyone. So go out and be green today, and feel good about it!

There are so many fun options available to us at local shops. My favorites:

Bramble (115 N. Oak Park Ave, Oak Park) has an exquisite selection of canvas totes with nature-inspired prints. Do good and look great with their environmentally-friendly bags.

The Book Table (1045 Lake St, Oak Park) has a signature pouch that folds up neatly into a tiny sac that fits in the palm of your hand. It will fit in the smallest of purses or even your pocket. Keep one in every purse and never worry about forgetting it at home!

The Olive Owl (1101 Lake St, Oak Park) has bags made of organic cotton that fold up neatly for easy storage in your purse or car. All organic, all good. 

Ten Thousand Villages (121 N. Marion St, Oak Park) has handmade totes made of recycled rice bags. They’re ultra hip and they won’t break the bank.

Sugarcup Trading (110 N. Marion St, Oak Park) has zany Ugly Doll reusable tote bags for kids (you’re never too young to start taking care of Mother Earth). Raise your morale with the 1939 British slogan “Remain Calm and Carry On” canvas tote. Great for him, for her, or for little “green” sprouts (aka children). 

American Artworks Gallery (7314 W. Madison St, Forest Park) has a collection of handmade bags with artistic and innovative prints on recycled fabric. They offer a variety of spunky designs and colorful fabrics.

Here’s hoping for less plastic and paper bags and more reusable bags. Happy Shopping!

Have you picked up any uber cool reusable bags here in town that you’d like to tell us about? Share your eco-finds with the community!

Join the discussion on social media!

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