Once upon a time, housewives took to market with their own shopping bag, or cart, which they opened and filled as they shopped. Years passed, and with larger more enclosed markets came more services, including disposable shopping bags of paper and plastic provided by and filled by the market. Today's grocery buyer appreciates the freedom of arriving sans foldable cart as well as the services of a bag person to pack up one's selected groceries. However, today's buyer often arrives with his own reusable bag. The perennial question at the checkout, “paper or plastic” while still asked, is giving way to the silent hand-off of reusable reclaimed bags. So, why is today's shopper reverting, at least partially, to behavior that was the norm several generations ago?

The reason is that today's shopper has a keen green sensibility. She knows that small habits make a big difference. For example, a family of four can easily fill twenty plastic bags in one shopping trip. That makes twenty bags that must be recycled or thrown out. How much more eco-friendly is it to use bags that can be used over and over again?

Unlike skimpy plastic bags and easily torn paper bags, bags made from organic, sustainable crops and recyclable materials can be made as large and durable as needed to last from one grocery trip to the next. Bags made from cotton, jute and bamboo are strong, washable and long-lasting. So are reclaimed bags, made from recycled plastic. Not only are such bags tough, they're attractive too.

Today's reusable bags, made from reclaimed or organic matter are stylish. Not only can today's shopper do her bit for the planet, she can look good doing it with bags of every, size, shape and color at her disposal. Match an outfit. Wear a slogan or promote a product. Today's bags are functional, yet pretty enough to give as gifts. Pretty soon the question “paper or plastic” will be a thing of the past as bags made from sustainable bamboo, organic cotton and reclaimed synthetic fibers in every size and jaunty color imaginable take over the checkout line.