paper or plastic? neither! bring your own bag


The other day I clicked over to just a little too late! The amazingly cute reusable grocery bags that they had put up that morning has sold out in JUST TWO HOURS! Not a surprise considering you get five adorable patterns for only $30. Each bag can hold up to two plastic-bags worth of groceries and will fit easily in your purse. Well, Ms. Delight Lynda emailed me yesterday to say they’re getting more in stock! You can pre-order a batch right now, AND if you enter in the code Shelterrific you’ll get 20% off ’til April 30th! I’ve already ordered a set myself — and even though I plan to share, I suggest you get one too before they sell out again! Need more convincing? Check out Plastic Free, a blog about trying to live without plastic for a year. The countdown showing how many plastic bags have been consumed this year is spiraling so fast, it’s scary. These little sacks can help stop us from contributing more to that number. — Angela M.

From our partners

Thank you, thank you, thank you! I’ve been thinking about buying some reusable bags, as I just cleaned out under my sink and recycled 5 plastic bags FULL of plastic bags! I placed a pre-order – the 20% code did the trick. I was looking at them, thinking I could make these myself, when I noticed that they’re waterproof – bonus! My birthday is next week so I’m considering them a little gift to myself.

Hi Angela and all the delightful readers of Shelterrific! I’m so glad we got an additional shipment cuz these bags are so cute and soooo practical. I’ve been stopped every time I’ve been to Trader Joe’s by people wanting to know where I got them. Thanks so much for spreading the word!



I love the idea of these bags, but I have a dog and thus a continual need for plastic grocery bags. If I started bringing my own, I think I’d also have to start buying plastic bags especially for my dog’s business – which seems even worse to me.

Any suggestions for other ways to deal with this problem? I know some people (like the no impact man) grab trash out of public trash cans, but we’re generally in residential or nature areas where there isn’t so much trash to be found.



Sela, I think if you asked your friends, family, or perhaps coworkers you’d find plenty of people who would be more than happy to get rid of their plastic bags. I know if somebody asked me I’d have plenty to give – at least until I get my order from Delight!


I buy the biodegradeable dog bags, even though I know nothing really biodegrades in a landfill. I also sometimes just use newspaper, though that’s a little more messy, potentially. Also, San Francisco is exploring a pilot dog waste compost program for dog parks.

the ol’ pet poo problem is a tough one!

I have a big stash of Canvas bags from a bank that I usually use. I also have a big stash of fabric that is way too funky to make clothing out of. Maybe I should make myself some more fashionable shopping bags.


Sela, try Bio-Bags. I order them from They’re a much better size than grocery bags, and they’re completely biodegradable.

I am buying some of these. Thanks!

The bags are really cute, but the site’s copy seems a little disingenuous to me. These are a great alternative for people who don’t reuse or recycle their plastic bags at all.

However, it’s not difficult to recycle those plastic shopping bags. We use them for dog business, but also for small trash around the house. The district we live in has a special trash program that pushes recycling heavily (they charge by the bag to collect trash, and you pay by buying stickers at one of several locations around town, with each bag getting a sticker; recycling is free and most any paper or plastic is accepted). Because of that, we don’t really generate a lot of trash. We have also used the bags as packing material when shipping stuff (or moving), recycling them when we unpack or when we receive a package with bags used as padding.

The other thing that kind of irks me about the website’s copy is that they suggest that carrying twice the amount of groceries as a regular plastic bag is always desirable, but people with back problems know that just isn’t true. It depends on your situation. :)

Around fifteen years or so ago, there was another big push towards bringing your own grocery bags to the store. At that point, string totes (my faves!) were big, but a lot of grocery stores were also selling unbleached cotton canvas bags for a few dollars each. We don’t always use them, but those totes have held up pretty well, and my family still has a bunch of them. Whole Foods sells a revolving collection of large shopping bags in a papery nylonish material for a few dollars each; the designs change periodically, but the bags are useful. However, I have to admit that we bag our food in big paper bags at that store – they are useful to put our paper recycling in, so that when we put it out, the package can also be recycled. & for me, both the big paper bags and the big cloth ones are just too heavy when filled to capacity with anything dense or liquid.

If your area has an ALDI supermarket, which is a German discount chain that sells mostly its own-brand discount foods, not organic or anything but extremely inexpensive, you might know that bags are not used there at all. You have to bring your own or hope they have an extra box or two around the store (which is usually the case).

PS – will look for the biodegradable bags, too.

& I totally think Vespabelle should make herself some bags… and post some pics somewhere!

I am loving this as I DETEST plastic bags… I use a great namebrand called BYOB up here on the west coast of BC. Love them, and use em for (nearly) everything (even a fun-filled trip to the beach yesterday!)

All the plastic bags you reuse still eventually break and end up in landfill. Recycling is extremely expensive on both the companies involved and the environment. Third world countries are fast becoming the dumping grounds for recycled waste. A strong groovy bag like an Envirosax will be used over and over and save the average person from using at least 200-300 plastic bags a year and eventually far outweigh the environmental cost of making it. An Envirosax bag can also be used for a number of other purposes unlike some dull unfashionable cotton totes. I would like to see all reusable bags in the future moving towards more natural materials, but strength, cost and longevity will always be important factors.


Thanks for the link and discount… I have been looking into getting some bags as I know we go through a lot. We too have a dog, but lately we have started letting her in the dog run to do her business before our walks. It doesn’t completely eliminate the need for a bag, but we use far less this way and her poo goes into the underground poo catcher (I don’t remember what they are called). I am looking forward to getting the bags in May! Thanks again!


Does anyone know what they’re made of? Nylon, I assume?

Envirosax are made of polyester, polyester is extremely durable and also water resistant. Nylon on the other hand absorbs water and eventually any colour in the fabric will fade. Envirosax are designed to be strong so they can be used over and over as a groovy fashionable reusable bag, which will save people using hundreds of disposable plastic bags. If you are totally against plastic then check out the Envirosax hemp bag. Please keep checking our website for our new range of natural fibre bags which will be available later in the year.

Advertorial, yay!

Cotton totes are dull and unfashionable! You can’t use them for anything but groceries! (Complete claptrap.) More like, “Cotton totes are not what I am in the business of selling, so I am going to try to make you feel shabby if you use them rather than my product.” I mean, is this really supposed to be all about fashion? & does it really matter if your grocery bags ARE someone else’s idea of “fashionable”? Sheesh.

Hint: bags only end up in a landfill if you put them there. Plastic bags are recyclable when they break. If you use them, and your supermarket doesn’t offer recycling for them, press your supermarket to do so! If you have a problem with recycling, you can look for sustainable organic cloth bags, too.

I notice Mark doesn’t address my objection to the idea of actually carrying “two plastic bags’ worth of groceries in one bag.” & what’s the manufacturing process on a polyester tote? & its own recyclability? How far is it being shipped? Etc etc.

It’s fine to not want to use plastic bags, but don’t let someone who owns or works for a company make you feel like you need to buy their products in order to accomplish it. It’s not even that the bags aren’t cute – they are. But if you’re really interested in being environmentally friendly, it’s probably better to use what you have. (I was going to say, “Or things available in your area,” but there’s probably a lot of shipping involved in that, too.) If you don’t have anything and want to get something, there are lots of options, some of which don’t come with condescending marketing attached.

On another note, the underground dog-waste thingie that Lisa mentions, that uses enzymes to break down the waste, is a genius product. I think most larger pet stores sell it. However, you do need to have a yard to use it, so I think apartment dwellers might be out of luck.

Thank you for your great feedback Miranda, you certainly have some very good points that all reusable bag companies should be addressing. As soon as our new organic cotton range are available later in the year, please check them out.

Kind regards



Who knew how grumpy people could be about reusable bags? If more people use less plastic bags over a greater period of time due to having “fashionable” grocery sacks, then I think the net gain to society is probably pretty good. I lived in Europe for several years where if you wanted a bag, you had to buy it. Interesting solution. I use plastic and paper grocery bags around the house, too, but cutting down to the point where there aren’t gobs of them under the sink is moving in the right direction. ps: Thanks for the code discount!


I bought these after seeing them here. I love them! The first time I went shopping, one bag held what would normally fit in two paper bags. No lie. It was a bit precarious at the top, but it wasn’t enough items to justify another bag and I was still able to carry it over my shoulder.

Julie H

I ordered by Envirosax bags from as they have free shipping. Turns out charges 7.95 for their shipping so even with the 20% off its more expensive than BrightandBold. Furthermore, they even offered to include a free birthday card in the package when I wrote them and asked not to include the invoice as it was a birthday gift.

I am an American living in England and travel on a regular basis throughout Europe. In many places, there are simply no bags available and you have to bring your own. Or you pay extra for bags. On top of that, you are usually required to do your own packing.


I just returned from an extended stay in France where I purchased several different styles of reusable grocery/general purpose bags. The stores and buggies are set up to use the bags, convient hooks on the buggies. I prefer this method to the yuck plastic bags. I have encountered a problem at a specific chain of grocery stores they don’t want you to use your own bags…they claim unsanitary and/or shoplifting problems. Has anyone else had this problem…I avoid shopping at this store as much as possible.

shelterrific » Blog Archive » cute new envirosax for kids

[…] already fans and big time carriers of Envirosax bags. There’s always one tucked in our purses to use when we stop at the drugstore or for […]


suziegator – I know what you mean, not everywhere is so keen on the BYOB trend. It’s saving them money, but they probably see it as a legal thing or a lack of low-cost advertising when they realize their bags aren’t going to be floating out there in the breeze doing fly-by ads for them.

I get nasty looks from cashiers at a lot of stores when I try to use my own bags. I bought a bunch of recycled grocery bags when I lived up in Toronto, Canada for two years – now THEY know how to recycle…composting and all. Some grocery stores up there actually gave you a per bag discount of a couple cents to fifty cents if you used your own to encourage recycling, etc.

Down here in Chicago is a different story, at least at my local corner grocery store (Cermak Produce), where I get nasty looks when I do the BYOB thing. And so far, the pattern is that if I bring my own bags, I do my own bagging…and then after the nasty looks from the cashier, I get nasty looks from the folks in line behind me because I’m lagging & in the way… and/or the cashier just tosses stuff the remaining stuff into whatever bag is closest, even though I’ve got my own grocery cart & need to keep the squishable things together lest they be squished. (Sigh, does no one know the art of grocery bagging any more?!) On one trip, there was a gentleman who did bagging to help out the cashier when it was really busy, and he was pleasant and happy to use my bags, but the cashier was oblivious and started to “help” bagging with plastic bags even though I had a stack of my own there at the ready…ugh…