San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

New Chic: Environmentally Friendly Bags

We can’t all go patrolling beaches at night to help save turtles, nor can we stop longline fishing or bulldozers in the woods. But we can all shoulder part of the environmental load with reusable shopping bags.

Before plastic, shopping bags were made of cloth, leather or woven twine and were part of every household. Now, through concern for the environment, organizations and grocery chains are selling sturdy, large bags. Though they claim it is to help the environment – and it does – they are also advertisements for the store, company or organization that sells the bag. But shopping bags make a statement, too, that you are concerned about the environment.

MarViva, a regional organization dedicated to protecting marine areas, is the latest group to come out with a big bag. Made of unbleached muslin and measuring 17 by 15 inches, the bags have zipper closures and sport the MarViva logo on one side.

Part of the somewhat hefty ¢3,000 ($5.20) price goes to support the organization’s work. The bags are sold at MarViva’s office on

Rohrmoser Boulevard

, just north of La Sabana Park. For information, call 2290-3647 or visit

Más x Menos supermarkets have two styles of bags near the checkout counters, so you can choose one before bagging your weekly shopping in a dozen or more plastic ones. The black bags go for ¢750 ($1.30) and the sturdier canvas ones are about ¢1,200 ($2). Auto Mercado stores also sell cloth shopping bags for about ¢990 ($1.70).

For anyone with even basic sewing skills, bags are easy to make with twill, canvas or denim.

Gift bags instead of wrapping paper have been in style for several years, but they are definitely a boon to the environment as they are more reusable than wrapping paper, which usually gets destroyed by eager hands and sticky tape after one use. Gift bags come in all sizes, colors and designs and are sold in many stores.

The idea of reusable bags has caught on. The next time you’re at a checkout counter, hold up your reusable bag and say, “Bolsa no, por favor.” The favor, of course, is for the environment.


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