Cutest (and Most Enduring) Reusable Bags

People ask me where I bought my reusable bags. They really do, all the time. That is, those who are not annoyed and/or threatened by them. I’m not sure where I originally found Envirosax, but at the time they were a tiny Australian company exporting handfuls of bags to the US at very dear shipping prices. I bought myself a bag o’ sacks — it’s a real thing — and then dozens more for everyone on my shopping list that year. The thing is, they were adorable! Sweet, printed florals or bold, sweeping graphics gave each bag purse potential. While the company has bloomed, I, along with the original recipients of my holiday 2005 buying spree, still carry the bags from my first Envirosax order. That’s how durable they are, and mine have been sorely tested with everything from heavy canned goods to weekly farmers market runs. One bag has holes poked through the center after a loose artichoke prickled through two years ago and he’s still going strong, though I’m careful about the artichokes these days.

This year I supplemented my fraying, tired collection with two newbies from Envirosax. (Now that I live in the country, I need a few extra bags for stocking up.) Yes, there are plenty of other reusable bag manufacturers. But I like to adopt the second and maybe even fourteenth cousins of my current bags and think of them all giddily catching up on family business when I’m asleep.

If I think about how many plastic bags I’ve avoided by using these five bags on nearly every outing for the past four years, I’m proud of the tiny dent I’ve made. I’m down at least 1,040 bags, at five bags per week. Scoff if you must, but it’s more than a few bags.
Read more about Cutest (and Most Enduring) Reusable Bags

The Gardening Begins

It’s planting time in Kansas! Okay, so it’s been planting time for a while, but I don’t have my own tiller. I had to wait out a few rainy weeks before my parents could bring theirs across from Missouri and dig up my patch. (Thanks, Mom and Dad!) I’d already started seeds indoors using egg crates (pictured). I still have plenty of things to start from scratch, but the lettuces, radishes and carrots will take no time to sprout.
Read more about The Gardening Begins

Retooled Vintage Chairs

old chairs
The old and new chair seats.

At the local antique store, I found a set of tall, swivel chairs for my kitchen island for $12.50 each. They were previously recovered in a ’60s oilcloth print of roosters, trees and farm scenes. It was a stained and discolored, so I decided to reupholster it with an oilcloth print fragment that I purchased at Jo-Ann Fabrics in the leftover bin for $3. I sliced the fabric into a large circle, stretched it over a thin piece of polyester batting, and used a staple gun to hold it in place, pulling each side taut as I stapled around the edge. When finished stapling, I cut off extra fabric and reattached the chair backs.

For a professional finish, you can use a round of cardboard that laps over the fabric edge and nail it down with upholstery tacks. This finish offers a nice hand feel, if you’ll be touching your recovered surface often and need to minimize sharp edges. Store co-owner Robin said to polish the chrome up with that stuff you rub onto your hubcaps to buff the imperfections and get back the metal’s sheen. I still haven’t done this, since it wasn’t available at our small-town grocer. I plan to pick some up on my next trip to Kansas City.

The entire reupholstery project took me about 45 minutes to complete, and now I have two cute stools at my breakfast nook for $28.
Read more about Retooled Vintage Chairs

The Sort Story

Being an environmentalist is as easy as paying attention. It’s the thoughtful approach to life that most of us are already honing. The trick is to find what works for you, making small changes you can stick with. I know, I know, it sounds like a diet plan to save the world. In a way it probably is—sans tights.

Recycling was my first big step. In Denver, the switch to piling plastics, glass, and paper products into the appropriate green bins took very little of my time. Then last July, my husband George and I moved to rural Kansas, where the recycling program is entirely DIY. I now make a weekly trip to the drop off center, where I spend at least 30 minutes sorting the recyclables into more than 15 specific categories. Sigh.

But it’s easier to buy local here, where farmers make up 60% of the population in our county. So I trade some of the extra time I used to spend foraging for produce on my recycling commitment. This is a small change for me with a big impact.
Read more about The Sort Story