I've been carrying a bag for life for years now, and this evolved into carrying two or three, all of which fit easily into my handbag and cause me no hassle at all.
I do this because when I'm out shopping I don't want to end up having to buy a plastic bag, and that's because I care about stopping whales (graphic photos) and birds going about their daily lives with 30 life threatening pieces of plastic in their stomach.
Bags for life are also known as shopper bags, eco bags, canvas bags. They're typically a sizeable yet lightweight cotton shopping bag, and in my experience of using them for many years now, actually way more practical and enjoyable to use than plastic bags anyway.
Plastic bags have to be held in your hand and cut into your skin when heavy, whereas canvas bags can be held on your shoulder with a soft cotton strap and balance the weight of the contents comfortably close to your body - which is also better for your back.
So I actually don't know why on earth anyone would want to use a plastic bag anyway, it's not difficult to get into the habit of taking a bag for life with you wherever you go.
Onto the list of the coolest bags for life I've spotted out there this summer;
1. Habitat patterned shopper bag - a simple modern design, just what you'd expect from Habitat. You can view this bag in our video below.
2. ANY of Anorak's shopper bags, they're all the bees knees to be honest. But I do like this wipe clean waterproof badger bag they have.
4. It's not all about women, men shop too, and according to Etsy seller Maven & Co, their The Walking Dead tote bag has been designed with men in mind. Available in black or natural.
Look out for both version of it in our shopper bag video below.
5. More upscale than your average cotton shopper, the mermaid bag from Sea Bags is beautifully made yet simple. View it in our shopper bag video below.
In particular I love the uniquely formed rope handles. Now I'm not convinced how well this would fold into another bag as it could potentially be bulky, but if you're not looking for a fold away solution, this is a very attractive eco bag to use for life in place of plastic bags.
Also comes in a whale, squid, seal pattern and more. In fact they have a huge range of nautical tote bags, you will be spoilt for choice.
All horribly expensive though.
6. The world can't get enough of Unicorns and so Pink Cat Shop has filled yet another gap in the bulging market that is 'unicorn merch' with their rather pretty Unicorn bag for life.
Look out for it in our shopper bag video below.
7. Rachel Taylor Designs has been offering a range of beautifully illustrated canvas shopper bags for years now, one sample is below, more are shown in our video.
Rachel Taylor is a surface pattern designer who also offers oven mitts, aprons and more in her online store. She can also be approached to discuss licensing her designs.
Why Do We Need To Stop Using Plastic Bags?
The typical mindset of the average person when it comes to plastic bags, and indeed plastic in general is "It's ok, we can recycle it", however this doesn't solve our growing epidemic as it's estimated that globally less than 1% of all plastic used ends it's life at a recycling plant.
We simply do not have sufficient recycling plants available to handle the amount of waste we're producing, and indeed recycling itself is not the magic cure we've been led to believe it is - what we really need to be doing is using far far less plastic full stop.
Recycling has been long touted as the magical solution to save us all from landfill mountains, but it's been proven to not be a realistic solution in the slightest.
Plastic bags are no different from the other plastics we use, and typically end up as litter. Some of it goes into landfill, however once in landfill plastic bags will take up to 1000 years to decompose, we cannot simply keep adding to the landfill any more.
Even our manufacture of plastic bags is damaging to our environment, as we consume fossil fuels such as oil to create them.
A hundred million oil barrels are used yearly to make plastic bags.
While I've enjoyed looking at the sea life (including mermaids!) on some of the eco friendly shopping bags above, we have to all remind ourselves that if we continue on our current path one day we won't have any sea life to enjoy. Will the whales and seals depicted in art work become just as mythical one day as the mermaids we all love so much?
Plastic shopping bags find their way into our environment and have become a choking hazard for birds, animals and fish, with the most vunerable of these being sea life as bags typically find their way into the water.
Due to our inability to recycle all of the plastic, just about each and every piece of plastic ever made is still sitting on this planet, with 46,000 pieces of plastic floating in the ocean at this point.
In excess of 100,000 marine animals die every year as a result of either eating or becoming tangled in plastic bags.
It's not uncommon for a sea creature or bird to be found with many pieces of plastic in their gut. A gut full of plastic leads to a blocked digestive system and inevitably death for the animal.
A recent case highlighted in the media being a whale found off the coast of Norway with 30 plastic bags in it's stomach.
A Climate Change Documentary by Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Fisher Stevens and Academy Award-winning actor, environmental activist and U.N. Messenger of Peace Leonardo DiCaprio.