Reusable = Fashionable, Because Trash Sucks
We all remember the great Anya Hindmarch "I'm Not A Plastic Bag" situation of 2007, where 100,000 of these kitschy and clever totes forced people worldwide into mass chaos for the 30 seconds or so before they all sold out. As with any popular original, imitations soon followed. I believe the message this bag sends across is great. In my mind, Anya Hindmarch = Genius. It makes those who see it realize that trash is not cool.I always use my reusable totes at the grocery store and farmer's market. It's difficult for me to remember to bring them everywhere, such as Target. I somehow manage to always forget them at Target. This needs to change. I need to remember.
According to some very smart people collaborating over at Wiki Answers Dot Com, it takes about 430,000 gallons of oil to produce 100 million non degradable plastic bags. And we use 4 trillion to 5 trillion plastic bags worldwide annually. That's using up our precious oil sources without recycling them. And recycling plastic bags is very expensive. It takes 250 bags to make 1 kilo of plastic - making recycling economically unfriendly. Furthermore, plastic is made of recycled materials, making them difficult to be further recycled. Burning plastic results in air pollution and toxic ash.
Additionally, plastic bags are very dangerous to animals. Would I want my precious Leila eating a plastic bag? HELL-TO-THE-FREAKING-NO!
My current favorite reusable shopping bag that I own is this FEED 100 bag.The $25 you spend to buy it feeds 100 children in Rwanda a school lunch. They make many others as well, and I just think it feels good to carry it. Plus, it zips up into a nice little burlap rectangle, for easy transportation. I can fit one in my Grandma-sized purse very easily. I bought mine at Whole Foods Market, but you can also buy them directly from FEED.
These are some of my new obsessions as well. Why not get one for your man, or prove to the world that you care about the environment?Next, in 2008, reusable ceramic cups like this appeared for your morning coffee. I try to bring my own travel mug to Starbucks when I go. You get a cup discount of 10 cents, and there's nothing to throw away. This is a hard one to get used to, because there is just something that makes you feel so special when you're holding a warm Starbucks cup in your hands on a chilly morning with it's pretty green logo proudly emblazoned on the side. Celebrities like Ashley Olsen have perpetuated this by making us all want a Starbucks cup to hold just like her. She looks cool. Cool in a way that I would never be able to pull off, even if like her, I woke up, threw on $450 sunglasses, a boho-chic scarf and The Boyfriend's wrinkled blazer from the night before. Let's face it, trash as accessory might look cool, but that doesn't mean it is cool.
Paper cups have their own impact on the environment. They are made of paper, for goodness sakes! According to About My Planet Dot Com, in the United States alone, 16 billion cups are used for coffee each year. This equals about 6.5 million trees. SIX AND A HALF MILLION TREES? Did I just read that right? I think I'll think twice. Or three times. Or just not be freaking lazy anymore in the morning, or worry about being cool. Think you'll just recycle that cup? Because most paper cups like these are coated with PE, both composting and recycling of paper cups is uncommon. PE is a petroleum based coating that can slow down the process of biodegrading. PE is not renewable and does not compost. Luckily, Starbucks seems to care about this. They even have a whole website set up about their efforts to change their impact on the environment. My personal goal is to cut my cup consumption by 50%. This seems reasonable enough.
Recently I came across the 2009 edition of kitschy, reusable products. This clever hand/dish towel, printed with the phrase, "I Am Not A Paper Towel," is a perfect reminder that our laziness extends to every room of the house. Cloth napkins and dishtowels seem like a long-forgotten accessory in the kitchen. Personally, I am pretty old-fashioned and still use both, but I know many people who just skip them altogether. Let's all think twice the next time we throw something away. Where does it go? What is our impact on the environment? How cool is trash? Not as cool as the alternatives, I promise you as much.*
*On the other hand, if you see me next week holding a Starbucks cup in one hand and a plastic bag in the other, please understand that I am trying, just like you. And trying is not a perfect science. I'm not perfect, so while I'm stepping off my soapbox now, remember that I'm human, even if that can be hypocritical in some situations. I'm going to TRY. And TRY, you should too.
Anya Hindmarch Tote Photo from Productwiki Dot Com.
I Am Not A Paper Cup Photo from and available at Design Milk Dot Com.
"Real Men Recycle" Tote from and available at Dog Eared Dot Com.
"I Wear My Planet On My Shoulder" Tote from and available at Luisa Via Roma Dot Com.
Photo of Ashley Olsen from E! Online Dot Com.
I Am Not A Paper Towel from and available at Mod Cloth Dot Com.