Re-usable Bags - Mesh or Canvas?

Many of us try to be enlightened shoppers by BYOB (bringing your own bag) to resolve the eternal paper or plastic dilemma. Since both paper and plastic bags take a toll on the environment, the most eco-friendly thing option is to tote our own totes to the grocery stores, farmers' markets, and shopping malls.

Which is why I'm on a quest to find the perfect reusable shopping bag. There are tons of functional and often adorable options out there, but I haven't yet found the right one for me.

I've had enough snafus with various reusable bags to know that I've got very specific requirements for my shopping bags. Here's what I'm looking for, in order of importance (to me):

  • They must be cute, aesthetically pleasing, and chic. I will forget to take them along unless I hang them on the coat-hooks near my front door. Which means they'll be in plain view in my living room. Which means, they have to be good-looking.
  • They must be squashable. In a perfect world (er, I mean if I were a perfect person), I'd love to go grocery shopping, and not put it off for as long as possible. And I wouldn't have to pack in at least five bags just to pack out a couple weeks' worth of groceries.
  • No store logos. I really like the new polyurathane bags from Trader Joes. The problem is I'm too chicken to take a TJs bag into, say, Whole Foods or my neighborhood food co-op. Rationally, I know that nobody will give me the evil eye. But I remain paranoid.
  • No canvas bags. Sure, they're sturdy and easy to come by. But it's tough to carry a bunch of them at a time; their bulk and weight makes them unwieldy. Besides, I've ended up with bruised fruits and broken eggs in the past.
  • No mesh bags. The good news is that they're squashable and have an easy, natural look. The bad news -- as anyone who's lost a garlic bulb knows -- are those oversized holes. I was willing to overlook the problem ... until a disastrous episode involving blueberries that popped out their carton. Suffice to say, I'm still trying to get the stains out of my car seats.

The good news is that I love these fair trade bags I spotted over at the Bag Lady website. I'm not sure they're available in this country yet. But till then, I've stashed my old blueberry stained mesh bags in the car. I'll just remember never to use them for blueberries again.

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