Sunday, January 27, 2008

Grocery Totes: Arty, Handcrafted, Colorful, Practical or Frugal -- Your Choice

Once upon a time in Baltimore, in a distant century, a health foods store was run by the 3HO Society, followers of Yogi Bhajan’s kundalini yoga. The store was on Charles Street, in the neighborhood where I lived, and I shopped there often.

I brought bottles and filled them with honey. I brought canisters and filled them with whole wheat flour, unbleached white flour for pastry, rice, nuts, raisins and other dried foods. We weighed the container before filling it, and weighed it again after it was filled.

I have been doing my part this past year to use the many cloth bags that I’ve received from colleges and universities where I’ve worked, as well as one from a chiropractor and another from a grand opening of The Whole Foods Market.

Sometimes, I have to run back out to the car, because I forgot to bring them in with me. Bronwen Davies at her Flights of Fab Fashion Fancy blog published the perfect solution last year – completely foldable fashionable totes that fit into their own small carrying pouch.

The pouch shown at the top. $37.95, holds the five colorful bags in the Retro series. The tan bag with the circles, right, is from that series. You can purchase one bag for $8.50. Davies likes the black-and-white bag from the Monochronmatic series. I agree. You can see them at the
Envirosax website.

I thought I might find something ultra high-style at New York's Museum of Modern Art (MOMA). I was disappointed with this tote is priced at $55.00 for the largest size (14 x 20 inches). The leather handles probably discourage purse snatchers with the standard operating procedure (SOP) of snapping the strap.

Project for the Old American Century has advertising exhortations that evoke early 20th century advertising.

Speaking of frugal, I was fascinated to discover that more enterprising people than I are making a beautiful buck from an idea I had some time ago. My kitchen is far too small for typical recycling containers, so I turned a nice burlap mall bag with a plastic laminated interior to purpose as a garbage container. Another free-standing bag, a plastic shopping tote from a take-out place, stores my bottles until I have time to carry them to the apartment building’s floor containers.

This set of four colorful bags are made of waterproof tarpaulin. The bright colors make it easy to sort recyclables. My Oceanside burlap shopping bag cost me a buck or two at a thrift store and the Pei Wei bag was free. The matched bags here will set you back $22.

In sum, there's plenty of choice -- far more than I can show. If you are tired of plastic bags spilling out of your cupboard, take a moment to save the environment, bring your own bag, and tote in style.

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