City Pulse

By Shelby Deering

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As women we recycle men, fashion trends, and our local hangouts. And in the environmental sense of the word, there are quite a few of us eco-friendly do-gooders who pride themselves on remembering to recycle every aluminum can and plastic bottle. But what about recycling something that you probably crumple up in the trash the second you get home from the grocery store (i.e. your paper bags)? Did you ever think to reuse those bags for future shopping trips?

From now on, store up your paper bags in your pantry or car trunk, and when you go to the grocery store for your next trip, take them right back in with you. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that in New York City alone, one less paper bag per person each year would cut down waste by five million pounds. So you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out the explosive impact of what a little ‘sacrifice’ can do.

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And not only will you be helping out the environment, but you can even make a little cash in the process. Many natural grocery stores, such as Whole Foods and Wild Oats, have been giving back a 5 to 10 cent rebate for every bag brought back. Trader Joe’s will even enter your name in a raffle for a free bag of groceries. Mainstream chain grocers, like Shoprite and Albertson’s, have jumped on the bag rebate bandwagon as well.

Brown not your color? Then consider picking up a reusable, non-paper bag to bring along on every outing to the grocery store. Gone are the days when burlap and canvas were the only options out there for reusable grocery bags. Nowadays, reusable bags have taken a stylish turn.

Check out the online store at reusablebags.com for an endless selection of modern bags in bubbly colors. Envirosax.com offers abstract, graphic bags for you arty types, and Myownbag.com sells sacks fit for girly girls in iridescent fabrics with glittery details. Even Shopintuition.com, the Promised Land for any style-savvy online shopper, has started offering “Market Bags” that will rival the most fashionable of totes with their punchy plaid patterning and your monogrammed initials. Celebrities are already snatching these up in droves.

Or maybe you’ll use your giant Chanel tote as your reusable bag. Who says you can’t look chic and save the planet simultaneously?

So when you find yourself making your next trek for groceries, besides going over all the things you need in your head (“Milk, bread, Twinkies, tequila…”), remember to grab those used paper bags from your closet or toss that trendy tote over your shoulder. You’ll be a planet-saving paper bag princess in no time.

Originally published April 2007
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