Paper or plastic?
How 'bout neither. We use shopping bags for a few hours, but they can take lifetimes to decompose. New foldable nylon versions make it easy to BYOB wherever you go--whether it's clothes shopping, grocery shopping, or a drugstore impulse buy.
* Oil and tree savings. In the United States, 12 million barrels of oil and 14 million trees go to producing plastic and paper bags each year.
* Discounts. Stores like Safeway and Whole Foods offer a 5-penny per bag discount if you bring your own.
* Being a role model. Other shoppers'll wanna be like you.
* Safety for sea creatures. Plastic bags are the fifth most commonly found item in coastal cleanups.
Ideal Bite co-founder Jen has brought her own since the days when loading up a canvas bag at the store wasn't so hip. She still gets weird looks from shoppers, but that's for other reasons...
* ACME Bags Workhorse - superlight nylon bags that fold into a tiny attached pouch, in four colors ($10).
* Ecobags Organic Cotton String Shopping Bag - these simple bags fit in your purse or pocket. Also: reusable produce bags ($3-$7).
* Posch - stylish bags created from vintage sheets and pillowcases ($40).
* "I'm Not a Plastic Bag" Bag - this bag spells it out for those who are slow on the uptake ($15).
* If you must use a plastic bag, reuse it as long as you can, then tie it into knots before you toss it to keep it from ballooning up into the air and ending up as litter.
This post originally appeared at idealbite.com. Founded by Jen Boulden and Heather Stephenson in 2005, Ideal Bite offers bite-sized ideas for light green living. Easy eco-living tips are presented in a short, sassy and free email that is delivered to more than 160,000 subscribers each weekday. Ideal Bite's mission is to create a more sustainable world through incremental environmentalism - small changes that truly add up. Click here to sign up for a daily tip.