The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly Truth About Shopping Bags

February 24, 2011 in General, Style, Tips & Tricks

I love bags, and have collected quite a grand assortment of reusable shopping bags.  Unfortunately, they never end up back in the car when I am out shopping.  So I confess, I am not as green as I would like to be, or should be.  But I was shocked at what I have been learning about shopping bags: from the plastic kind, that in most places are what you are given if you don’t have any other bag, to the reusable bags that you can purchase for a $1 and up.

The first thing that surprised me was that on average, a plastic bag is used for 12 minutes and then thrown away.  I do try to reuse these bags as trash can liners, or take them back to the store to recycle (only to get more).  There are days that I feel like I am drowning in plastic bags and if I bring one more bag into the house, I am going to scream.

So the alternative is to purchase the inexpensive non-woven bags.  However, with reports of them containing high levels of lead and fostering bacteria growth, they don’t sound like such a great idea.  I do have piles of these bags already, but I didn’t know that you were supposed to wash your shopping bag every time you use them.  Now, I have not tried to wash them, but they just don’t seem that they would wash all that well.

So what to do?  I thought it would be a great idea to just make a few out of old fabric that I have had laying in my stash for years.  While surfing the net one night, trying to find some ideas on how to make a great shopping bag, I stumbled across a blog called Green Bag Lady.  This blog is written by artist Teresa VanHatten-Granath.  She, with her team of 15 “Bagettes,” have been making fabric bags, and giving them away in exchange for a promise to use fabric bags instead of the plastic alternative.  To date she has given away almost 14,500 bags!  You can find her blog at

You can find a pattern and a how-to video on her site to make your own green bag.  I look forward to seeing everyone’s new bags.  You can post your photos on the Totally Stitchin facebook page at

3 responses to The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly Truth About Shopping Bags

  1. Stacey–

    Aw, such kind words! Thank you so much for sharing the pattern and video with your readers. I do hope that your words will encourage many others to start making bags too!

    All the very best–Teresa
    Green Bag Lady

  2. YAHOO! Welcome to the fabric bag club! I am a HUGE supporter of fabric bags as an alternative and also of The Green Bag Lady. I agree the non-wovens have their own set of “issues” that can be avoided by simply using a fabric bag. Here’s a link to my blog post about those non-woven bags… in case you are interested: Thanks again for helping rid the world of single-use plastic bags!

  3. The video is a big help in explaining how to “box” the bottom corners.

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