If you've been looking closely around town lately, you may have noticed some savvy shoppers carrying a handsome canvas tote that carries its own strong message. Sturdy canvas totes with large bright blue lettering covering one side exclaim "THIS IS AN ANTI-PLASTIC BAG." On the other side of the bag is a brightly colored bird and the words "BAG OF FRESH AIR." These sturdy, 100% recycled cotton totes are being sold by the James River Garden Club as part of their effort to address the serious environmental problem created by the manufacture and accumulation of plastic bags.
Area stores are joining in. Ukrop's has of course been selling their $1.00 recyclable canvas totes since late summer. Val-pack coupons this past summer contained a coupon redeemable for a "Virgina Grown" canvas tote at area farmers' markets. Even Target is slowly getting in on the act with $1.00 vinyl bags for sale that scrunch up into a tiny contained ball. ( However, if you bring your own bag to Target be prepared for clerks who are unprepared. ) The biggest example is of course Ellwood Thompson's, which no longer uses any plastic bags for packing customers groceries. As an alternative, Ellwood Thompson's is offering their own canvas bags for $1.99, as well as the James River Garden Club bags for sale.
This movement is larger than most people know, with whole counties lobbying for the right to ban plastic bags.
The James River Garden Club puts the profits from the sale of their recycled cotton bags towards conservation efforts. The two sided high design bag sells for $8 and a plain version sells for just $1. Each bag includes a card listing some amazing and scary facts about plastic bags. One line informs the buyer that "Plastic bags kill over 100,000 sea turtles and other marine animals every year when they mistake the bags for food." Think jellyfish.
The top of the included card reads, "You are holding a bag full of hope." I'll buy into that. Within the first 10 days that these bags were available, according to the Richmond Times Dispatch, almost 500 bags had sold. This gives me hope.
A woman who I greatly admire who happens to be a part of the James River Garden Club reported that within a matter of weeks they had sold out completely! They had a new order arrive two weeks ago, so don't wait- look for them at Ellwood Thompson's!
UPDATE: Elwood Thompson's was out of the James River Garden Club Bags as of Friday Feb. 29th, but the garden club plans to deliver a new batch of bags this March 1st weekend so keep a look out.