The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

Category Archives: reusable bags

August 24, 2015

My Favorite Plastic-Free Sandwich and Snack Baggies and Containers

Are you still relying on plastic baggies, bags, or containers to pack lunches for school or work? Are you concerned about the chemicals that can leach out of plastics into the foods you or your kids eat? A lot of plastic food containers are touted as BPA-free. But BPA-free does not necessarily mean safe because the chemicals used in place of BPA can have the same harmful effects. And plastics like polypropylene may contain antibacterial chemicals like Triclosan, which have been found to leach.

Here are a few of my favorite reusable cloth and stainless steel sandwich/snack baggies or containers.  My criteria for selecting them as my favorites are that 1) they contain the least amount of plastic or other synthetic polymers, and 2) I know and respect the owners of the companies that make them.  This is by no means an exhaustive list of the offerings out there.

Life Without Plastic Baggies and Containers

Life Without Plastic was founded by Jay Sinha … Read the rest

February 1, 2013

Beware the Reusable Bag Monster

We’ve all heard of the Bag Monster — that scary mountain of disposable plastic bags that accumulate in cupboards and closets–or worse, blow down the streets and into waterways and threaten wildlife.

But have you encountered the Reusable Bag Monster?  Witness the one in my kitchen:

Good lord!  How many reusable bags do two people actually need?

Apparently, I am not alone.  My friend Amber Strocel has blogged about having too many reusable bags.  And in her post, she links to others in the same situation.  Reusable bags have become the swag du jour at many events.  Some of them are so cheap that companies buy them and hand them out like disposable bags.  Usually, the give-away bags are not cotton, like the ones in my growing collection, but cheap non-woven polypropylene bags that look like cloth but are actually plastic.

Reusable Bags are not magic

It seems like some companies think that just providing a reusable bag with … Read the rest

December 1, 2011

Please Help My Dad — Your Reusable Bag Suggestions Requested

I spent Thanksgiving week in Maryland with my family.

Here’s a picture of my dad. He has questions.

(Okay, that photo was taken in Hawaii in 2006 — not Maryland in 2011. But it’s nice, isn’t it?)

So we were at the local Giant Foods grocery store last week, and after I whipped out my handy ChicoBag reusable bags from my purse, the cashier said she thought Maryland was going to start charging a fee for plastic bags, similar to the fee in effect in Washington D.C.  Turns out she was almost right.  Prince George’s County (where my dad lives) wants to impose a bag fee but must get authorization from the State General Assembly.  There will be a hearing this Saturday.

When we got home from the store, my dad looked at my ChicoBags and asked, “So I would need to get twenty of those to replace the twenty plastic bags I bring home from the store?”

I explained that reusable bags are stronger than disposable plastic bags, so… Read the rest

April 1, 2011

Art of Zen Crocheted Produce Bags


Chriss from Art of Zen Crochet makes gorgeous produce sacks out of hemp yarn. Check out her site. Her scarves and other crocheted items are fantastic. The produce sacks are extremely light weight and great for getting your produce weighed without a plastic bag.

Just keep them away from kitties who like to play with yarn. Which is pretty much all kitties, right?

Chriss writes:

Sometimes you have to takes things apart before putting them together.

Growing up on the West Coast of Canada, on Vancouver Island exploring the beaches, mountains, and woods has given me inspiration all my life in order to create.

My shop being as environmentally friendly as possible is really important to me! Right down to using scraps of yarn for tagging items, to my shipping materials. My yarns are all chosen with the health of the planet and people wearing them in mind. When I dye my yarns I use fiber reactive dyes that do not harm the environment. Quality, I want the items… Read the rest

January 10, 2011

Ambatalia Handmade To-Go Bags, Furoshiki Napkins, & More!

Molly de Vries lives just across the bay from me in Marin County and is the owner of Ambatalia, a company producing beautiful cloth to-go bags, napkins, and other reusables.  Her story is inspiring. Please enjoy her story in her own words.

My name is Molly de Vries, owner of Ambatalia, textiles for a non-disposable life, and The Fabric Society Shop.

My Story

I grew up amongst 7 brothers and sisters in downtown Mill Valley, California…

and am now raising my own three kids with my husband Willem in the original house my mom and dad bought back in 1955.

Mill Valley was much different than it is today. Lots of artists, musicians, and incredible places like the unknown museum, a magical spot filled with what some people might call junk or garbage. It was inspiration to me.

I grew up with a kitchen wall filled with beautiful old utilitarian hand tools and a large house furnished with found objects collected by my mom and dad. Also shopping at the Marin City… Read the rest

February 9, 2010

Life Without Plastic’s New Insulated Lunch Bag

Yesterday, I hinted at how I carried home my ice cream from Tara’s in an insulated nearly plastic-free bag. Now, perhaps you have already figured out a plastic-free way to carry hot or cold foods without losing/letting in heat. But more often than not, the choice is a nylon or neoprene bag insulated with plastic foam, right? Some are constructed out of recycled plastic, which is great.  But it’s nice to know that there is an (almost) plastic-free alternative.  That alternative? Wool.

Personally, I was excited when Jay from the company Life Without Plastic sent me information about his new locally-produced insulated wool lunch bag. (Locally-produced means made in Canada, where Life Without Plastic is based, rather than [for those of us in North America] overseas.)… Read the rest

March 4, 2009

Clothesnik saves plastic, if only dry cleaners would use it!

Way back in October, my friend Doug sent me a Clothesnik canvas garment bag to try out. I finally had a chance to use it last week. We haven’t taken clothes to the cleaners since July of last year! Unfortunately, it took a while to find a green cleaner that would actually use the bag. More on that later. First, I want to tell you about the Clothesnik.

The Clothesnik is a 100% cotton garment bag and laundry bag in one. Toss dirty clothes into it and tie up the bag using the strings at the bottom. Or use it clean as a garment bag to replace the disposable plastic bags the cleaners give out. If you don’t want to pay for the laundry service to clean the Clothesnik bag, wash it at home and return with it to pick up the clean clothes. Or don’t use it as a laundry bag. There are just so many options.

Our problem was finding a cleaner to use it correctly in the first place. A while back I wrote about green cleaner Blue Sky, which uses CO2 to clean clothes, one of the… Read the rest

December 30, 2008

Video Tour of My (Nearly) Plastic-Free Kitchen

Here are some snippets from the market research video I referred to in yesterday’s post. A quick, rough, and unscripted tour through some of the green aspects of our kitchen. Future videos, should we choose to make them, will be much more polished. But this one is fun, if only for the appearance of a couple of curious cats halfway through.

You might need to turn your sound volume up to hear it.

Read the rest

August 2, 2007

Be careful on the Reusable Bags Bandwagon

With the recent surge in anti-plastic bag sentiments, a lot of folks are jumping on the reusable bags bandwagon. I think it’s great that people are starting to give a thought to the bags that they use to carry their purchases home. But not all bags are created equal, and I wish more people would think about the type of reusable bag they choose, rather than rashly purchasing the cutest thing they see in another expression of thoughtless consumption.

I’ve been thinking about the issue of reusable bags for some time, but I am moved to sit down and actually write this out tonight after reading a review of Reisenthel’s nylon shopping bags on The reviewer says that she was glad to find the compact, foldable Reisenthel bags, made by a German company, because she sometimes forgets to take her large Trader Joe’s tote bag with her and ends up with a collection of new plastic bags from the store. With the Reisenthel nylon… Read the rest