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The Eco Bag Lady

That used to be my title, but this West Island resident has me firmly outclassed.

Meet Marisa Ramondo, mompreneur and the force behind eco-handbags.ca
It's not just for girls. In fact, it's for anyone who's looking for an option to plastic shopping bags and leather wallets, or simply a planet-friendly way to carry stuff and look stylin'.
Some of these bags began life as skateboards, soda can pop-tops, CDs, books and old billboards. You can even buy dog carriers that are made from recycled sweaters.
And that ain't even the half of it!
Watch the video.
Now before we wander into the dark land of bag lust, let me just put one thought out there: the MOST eco-friendly thing to do is to REDUCE. Which means buy and use only what you absolutely need. Which means that if you don't need a bag, you probably shouldn't buy one--even if it IS made of 35mm slides that tell incredible stories.

On the other hand, if you HAD to buy a bag or are looking for a way to phase out plastic from your life, buying a tote made from something recycled (and supporting a mompreneur or artist) is probably not a bad way to go...

Okay, now that THAT's off my chest, let's go bag shopping, shall we?

First a little context:
For those of you that don't get what the hoopla is about, here's an excellent article on why we should cut plastic bags out of our lives, and how it's been accomplished in other countries. Look here.

Meanwhile, in Kirkland...
Marisa Ramondo wasn't waiting for the government to make up its mind. She wanted to find a viable (and chic) alternative to plastic bags. It all started a little over a year ago as a little hobby/side project. Marisa Ramondo, who already ran a successful web consulting company, decided she wanted to combine her passion for handbags and the environment. She began to look for people who were making bags from found or recycled materials-like juice boxes, old sweaters, billboards and art banners, CDs--even chopsticks.

Although not all the bags come from fair trade sources, most do. The bags made from old juice boxes, for example

(which are a fantastic (and water-and-spillproof) way to carry your lunch, come from a women's collective in the Philippines.

Alternatively, you can buy coke can purses that help support women and their families in Vietnam:

Or you can buy a seriously trendy designer skateboard purse from New York designer Beck(y) http://eco-handbags.ca/catalog/becky.php

Not all the bags are recycled, however. Some are made from sustainable fibres like organic cotton, jute and hemp.
Prices range from about C$5.25 and go all the way up to about $250. So there's something for every budget and pretty much every style.

So tell me, what style of bag would you go for? And what steps (if any) are you taking or planning to take to cut plastic shopping bags out of your life?

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Comments (2)



What en inspirational website. I have been using reusable bags for a five of years now and have been making and giving them as gifts to friends and family members. I always keep a spare bag in my backpack and purse in case of an impromptu shopping spree.

I use these bags for the groceries but also for shopping for clothes, books, presents and what not. Reusable bags are easier to carry for long distances although your carrying capacity is limited by the number of bags you carry around. However, this space limitation is a great way to limit your spending; if it doesn't fit in the bag anymore, it's time to go home. It's a great way to save money and the planet.

I really like the skateboard handbag idea, although too expensive for my budget, I might just make it myself.

Your column is a great idea, I will be following with interest the upcoming topics.

Posted March 3, 2008 08:48 PM

Preposterously Green


The fascinating thing about plastic bags (including garbage bags and plastic bottles) is the time factor and cost : takes seconds to makes billions of them, we use them for 10 to 15 minutes and in the end, they keep on polluting for years and years to come. All of this because they are impervious to natural decay! What a heritage ! Why couldn't we ban plastic bags and become a model city for the rest of Canada? Why can't we have the vision of our aspirations ?

Posted March 4, 2008 12:03 PM

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