As I learn more about plastic and the hazard it presents to the environment, I’ve been making a conscious effort to use less and less of it every day. I decline straws in restaurants and I honestly cannot remember the last time I bought water or any beverage in a plastic bottle. (Why can’t spring water come in aluminum or paper like soda or many protein drinks?)
Another area where plastic invades our lives is with shopping bags from the grocery store, the pharmacy, the corner deli… everywhere. It’s a real problem. There is an entire drawer in my kitchen dedicated to plastic grocery bags, which I save to reuse as recycling bags or pickup bags for dog business. But it’ll be a while before that drawer is empty.
I’m currently living in Downtown Cleveland without a car. Fortunately, there is a local family-run grocery business based in Cleveland named Heinen’s, which provides online grocery shopping and delivery much like Fresh Direct in New York. It’s fabulous, except for the plastic bags in which the groceries arrive, which is why I have all those plastic bags in the drawer. (As I write this, I’m now wondering if it’s possible to request paper bags. Hmm…)
Alternately, I sometimes like to shop in person on my bike or on foot for smaller and lighter things that I can carry, just like I did in NYC. Heinen’s has a stunning downtown location inside an old bank building, making it a pleasure to visit for groceries, prepared foods, wine and beer tastings and people watching. It’s a genuine pleasure to go there. And when I go, I remember to bring my canvas tote bags.
Currently, I have two canvas tote bags, and I’m in the market for more. One is my prized WNYC tote, which I got as a thank you gift for supporting the station during one of their pledge drives. (Always support public radio!) The other is my New Yorker tote, which came with a subscription to the magazine. I need more.
On my radar are tote bags from John Bartlett and J.Crew. Bartlett’s Tiny Tim Tote is made of 100% cotton canvas and goes for $15, with all profits going to the Tiny Tim Rescue Fund, which helps rescue and rehabilitate dogs and cats from high-kill shelters. J.Crew’s chic tote is also made of cotton canvas and goes for an easy $8.
The cotton canvas totes are a win-win. Their use helps reduce the ridiculous amounts of harmful plastic going out into the environment and enables us to shop more consciously and stylishly.