Green Living Tips from the Founder of ECOBAGS®

Green Living Tips from the Founder of ECOBAGS® 1I admit. I have two reusable-type grocery bags and I never use them. The worst thing is that half of the time they are actually in my purse and I still don't pull them out! 

I'm fortunate to have Sharon Rowe, green lifestyle expert and founder of ECOBAGS®, here at Metropolitan Mama this afternoon to help "set me straight" and to give me a few tips.

ME: How long has ECOBAGS® been around and what is the story behind it?

SHARON: ECOBAGS® has been around since 1989!  I was running errands in my NYC neighborhood and noticed how many plastic bags were stuck in trees, bunched up in gutters and floating down the Hudson River.  In one of those classis “aha” moments I thought, “What if I was to start using reusable bags, like the ones we saw in Europe last summer?”  I did some research, found some lightweight cotton string market bags, and began using them to shop locally.  We brought 4,000 of what we now call our Classic Market Bags® to the Earth Day Celebration in NY in 1990 and sold all of the bags in two hours!  ECOBAGS® was born.

ME: Many moms only go grocery shopping 1-2 times per week rather than every day or every other day. How can a mom be green in that setting? Does she, for example, have to bring 10-20 bags with her?

Green Living Tips from the Founder of ECOBAGS® 2SHARON: My sister’s a suburban mom who shops 1X/week and uses her reusable bags.  She has three large bags, a few medium bags and several of the small produce bags.  We sell sets of grocery bags on our site with assorted sizes.  If she runs out of her own bags she takes paper bags, which can be used for recycling newspapers. 

The key is to remember to bring them with you and then to take them from the car into the market!

ME: What are some simple and practical ways that moms can begin "going green" today?


  1. Think about packaging before you put something into your grocery cart!  Instead of buying single serving bags of things like pretzels and goldfish, get a big bag and teach your kids to use reusable containers.  
  2. Learn about recycling in your town and create a system that works for you and your family.  Teach your children to recycle, too!  They’ll love participating in saving the planet.  
  3. Also, look at the household cleaners you’re using.  If they’re full of chemicals and heavy scents those chemicals that are being released into your home and possibly causing/aggravating allergies and asthma.  

Little steps make a big difference so the bottom line is to find small things that work for you and avoid guilt and overwhelm.

ME: How can moms teach "greenness" to toddlers and small children in fun and creative ways?

SHARON:  Talk with kids about plastic and waste.  Make garbage monsters out of throwaway items (we have info at for this).  Save the liners from candy boxes and other packaged goods and use these items as the raw materials for projects but TELL the children where the items came from.  Ask them to help you sort your bottles for recycling.  Teach them to turn off the faucet while they’re brushing their teeth!  One way to illustrate how much water they waste if they leave it on is to put a bucket in the sink to collect it while the water’s running.  They’ll be amazed and will begin to understand how precious water is as a resource.  The bottom line in all of this is to educate yourself and teach your children.  They’ll love making a difference, too!

YOUR TURN: Do you use reusable bags at the grocery store? Why or why not?   

WIN IT! One winner will receive two bags from ECOBAGS® - a Classic String Bag™ in a fun color (great to throw in your handbag or hang behind a stroller) and a Canvas Tote for grocery shopping. To enter, simply leave a comment on this post prior to Saturday, April 26 at midnight (don’t forget to follow the rules). The winner will be announced and contacted on Sunday, April 27. * Winner must provide a U.S. mailing address.

*UPDATE* The winner is #280 Miranda Allen. Congratulations!

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285 comments on “Green Living Tips from the Founder of ECOBAGS®”

  1. For the most part, I use my own tote bags, but if I'm buying a lot, I use some of their paper bags, then put them in my recycling bin at home.

  2. I use Large flat bottom duffel bags for grocery’s . I Have some wonderful tote bags but they don’t hold things in place well for grocery’s. It seems to be kind of like a slip slide in there. If it can possibly get squished or spilled in a tote bag it will. I need to take my groceries on the bus so they have to hold a lot & hold it in place well to. I have lots of wonderful tote bags there great for that trip to the library or going to the doctors where you have to wait long enough to bring your crocheting. That special blanket you can get done while you wait. I don’t use the plastic bags at all they always seemed to end up as extra clutter around the house & could never fit all of them into that handy fabric bag holder. I’m glad there a way to recycle them now much to much is sent to the land fill.

  3. I love this! I have one canvas bag & I finally have been remembering to bring it with me. I really need to get a few more though, 1 is enough if I ever get more then 12 items :)

  4. I am now working on doing my part to help the environment by bringing my own bags when I shop. I have a few bags, but not nearly enough. My challenge, besides remembering to take them into the store (I am really good at remembering to put them in the trunk), is that I need to keep them light enough to carry into the house - I walk quite a distance from the garage and up several steps. I would love to fill these bags with fresh produce from our local farmers market! Thanks for the chance to win!

  5. WE keep extras in the car; bags that willrecycle witht he owners; no plastic, no paper no hardis for our environment. many Thanks!!! SW Best of luck to all who enter!!!!!!

  6. I keep several in the trunk of my car. I mostly remember to take them into the store. When I forget, I usually just have the checker put the items back into the cart. Then I take the cart out to my car and put the items into my bags. Thanks for the contest.

  7. Wow, these bags would be great!! I don't like having all the plastic bags laying around after I go grocery shopping. Thanks for this eco-friendly giveaway!!

  8. I really need a push to be more environmentally conscious. If I win I hope I can start leaving the plastic bags in the store.

  9. The reusable ones are everywhere now. I haven't put forth the effor to buy reusable bags. I'd love to help save the planet this way, so get me started. Thanks.

  10. I am trying to bring my own bags to the supermarket, but only have two reusable ones, which won't hold up for a big trip.

  11. I have not yet used reusable bags when doing grocery shopping, and know that I really should - it especially would come in handy at Sam's Club where you don't get any bags at all to haul your purchases home in.

  12. It would help so much if all states would agree to get rid of those plastic grocery bags! Bravo to the states who have already done so.

  13. I lived with my family in Japan when I was younger and Mom always shopped with string bags. They didn't have "paper or plastic" bags and you brought your own. I still like using the string bags.

  14. Earthday is coming so it's eco this and eco that. These bags are fashionable. Let's hope the trend continues.

  15. yes, use 2 resusable totes but can use more, because I still end up using a few store bags on a big trip!

    Love the ecobags, so cool

  16. You know, since Earth Day, I've been realizing just how much the little things can make a difference. I have never used reusable bags but firmly believe they should be a part of everyone's shopping routine. I would love to win these and get started on doing my bit for the environment.

  17. I have been wanting to get some reusable bags, but I haven't been able to find the extra money to buy them. This would be really great, thanks for the chance.

  18. I bought one from Kroger and use it often but when I forget I use paper bags. Then I use the paper bags to put my newspapers in untill I take them all too the recycling center in which the paper bag is recycled as well. I think the reusable bags are such a great idea though. The thought of all those plastic bags in landfills just sitting there for years and years is just so sad.

  19. Great idea! I have 1-2 bags like theses but could use more. I always keep my plastic bags in the car to recycle. Thanks.

  20. This would be a great add to my "changing" from living outrageously to living green for life...would love this prize, Please count me in!!!

  21. I don't use reusable bags... I always mean to buy some and then when I get to the checkout counter I get distracted and I forget. So once again I bring home the plastic ones. I do have faith that I'll remember one of these days though!

  22. I love these bags! I actually knit a couple a few years ago, but they are now in bad shape because I use them all of the time.

    These look great. I love the colors.

  23. Trying to remember to always have the reusable bags in the car for unplanned shopping stops! We all need to learn and practice green habits.

  24. I'm trying to become more earth friendly and "Go Green". This bag will help me. I've been taking some bags to the grocery store with me, but haven't completely made the switch over. I'd like to do more.

  25. I like how low profile the bags are. They will be easy to keep in the car and use them when I need them.

  26. I never thought that I could change, but I now carry a few re-usable bags with me to the supermarket. Feel good about it too! GO GREEN!

  27. My daughter has been urging me to get (and use!) them. It sounds great, but I tend to get so much at a time, and I've mostly only seen fairly small bags available. These sound really good.

  28. I don't currently use reusable bags at the grocery store. We only shop once a week. With a family of 6, we would need a lot of them. I liked her idea of bringing along your own bags and using paper for the rest. We do always ask for paper bags and then we reuse those. Boy does it make some of those baggers annoyed to have to use paper. I am not sure why. I guess because it takes a couple of extra seconds to get them out.

  29. I think these cool bags could be used for more than just groceries. I might use them for traveling, picnics, a book bag, dirty laundry, clean laundry. I could maybe even ditch my purse.

  30. Using tote and string bags is a great way to help our planet. Down with plastic bags! Thanks for the great giveaway.

  31. These are great tips. It was actually my kids who got me started recycling many years ago. Our neighbors laugh at how large our recycle is and how little trash we have. I'd love to win these, thanks for offering them.

  32. I remember women using bags like these back in the 60's. One good thing to go retro on!!! I would love to have these bags in the back of my truck for all of my shopping.

  33. I love these! I've just started looking up "patterns" to try to make my own, but would love to win one as it'd be so much faster.

  34. I've always wanted a string bag. I have some other "green bags" but I think the string bag would be good for most produce.

  35. The string bags remind me of my grandmother too! I use wax paper sandwich bags instead of plastic because they remind me of her too ... plus, some kid at our school science fair did an experiment on eco-friendliness where he buried different sandwich bags for a couple of weeks, then unearthed them to see what had happened. The crinkly, retro wax bags were reduced to a shred or two. The plastic? Like new, of course.

  36. I do use reusable bags, they are very sturdy and with the handles easier for me to carry. I keep them in the car so I do not forget them

  37. Sure could use this, I'm really trying to use only reusable shopping bags and I have been doing it for the food store but want to start with all shopping - this would help.

  38. I've been seriously considering using reusable shopping bags. Now all I have to do is convince my husband that they're not "dorky!"

  39. I need to be more vigilant with using my canvas bags when I shop. My grandma made some for our family since I wanted to reduce the plastic bags that are collecting under my kitchen sink, but I wasn't too taken with the fabrics... so I now only use them when I go to the gym. I need to get better and set a better example for our family, too!

  40. I have to admit, I do not use a reusable bag, but I plan to get one soon for quick trips (or I'd love to win some) :)
    but I will say that I keep all my plastic/paper bags and we reuse every one of them! so I'm not ready to go with reuseable everytime since I will reuse the others!

  41. I have one canvas bag, but I could certainly use another one and I really like that string bag. Thanks for the giveaway!

  42. I definitely use reuseable canvas bags for groceries. At one store I go to, they leave their cardboard boxes from shipments of groceries near the exit so that people can use cardboard boxes instead of bags. Plus, you can only get plastic bags if you pay for them. Very green!

  43. I work at the fresh market and sell reusable bags every day but would love to own and show off one of these!

  44. I've never used these types of bags for shopping, but they look awesome I would love to use them, would make it alot easier. Count me in

  45. I bought one of these in Greece back in the 80's. Every housewife there could be seen carrying one and I love mine. It is now time for a new one..The brighter the better

  46. I could use one of these to leave in the car and use when I just have to run into the store for a few items.

  47. I would love to get these. I'm ashamed to admit I use those stupid plastic grocery store bags; but I need to stop--I'm somewhat prevented by the price of the reusable ones, but I need to just go for it. Tomorrow is Earth Day. Maybe I should make a point to buy some reusable grocery bags tomorrow.

  48. I would love to have one of these. They are attractive and would really serve a good purpose for the environment. Please count me in. Thanks!

  49. These are great!! I am slowly trying to convert myself to using the Earth Friendly bags @ the store. Thanks!!

  50. I have a number of reuseable bags that I have collected but they never seem to be enough. I feel like a dope using a reuseable bag and then having to finish bagging with plastic. I could use another one!

  51. These bags are very cute and usefull. I keep canvas bags in my car in case of emergency store visits. These are even better.

  52. Love, love, love the canvas bags! These ones are stylish to boot... Also love that they have different sizes.

  53. I like that the string bag can expand and can hold oddly shaped items. Erica, I quit using plastic produce bags a long time ago, I always put one of the little hand shopping baskets in my cart to hold all my produce, plus smaller items.

  54. I've been using reusable bags at the grocery for a while now, and I find that three or four reusable bags can easily hold a cartfull of groceries for me (vs. about 10 plastic bags). I think the string bags would be good to keep in my purse for when I go to other stores or to use for produce (I'm guilty of still using the plastic produce bags!)

  55. It would give my wife and I more incentive to use the earth-friendly bags. She has made several commements about using them. We recycle, and use energy saving bulbs, why not save on the plastic as well!

  56. I have one that has had lots of use and is truly wearing out. I would love another! These travel easily anywhere and are so easy and convenient to use.

  57. I have some eco friendly bags from Vons and Trader Joes and my small local market, I am trying to remember to use them,I would love to win one of these great looking string bags, Thanks for the chance to win one

  58. I try to do all my grocery shopping for the week in one trip (for two adults and a toddler). I have three large tote-style bags that I bought at the supermarket. I am usually able to fit all my groceries in them (when I remember to bring them with me).

  59. earth day is my birthday so i have to be green! as soon as i empty my shopping totes they go right back into my car so i dont forget them. i also invested in some sigg metal water bottles for my whole family-no more cases of plastic bottles. i have discovered the great cleaning qualities of baking soda and lemon juice-goodbye chemical cleaners in plastic bottles!!!!

  60. I have a few bags, the challenge is just remembering to use them every time. I'm getting better and use them most of the time. I have a couple of large ones that can hold a ton of stuff, as much as 5 or more as the plastic bags, they are great for those stock-up shopping trips.

    The string bags offered in the contest are great -- can be used for many things... hauling stuff to the beach, dry cleaners, school, and of course for groceries too. Great giveaway idea -- Thanks!

  61. I have a bunch of Trader Joe's canvas bags, and a couple of insulated bags for frozen and refrigerated items. I always use them at Trader Joe's, and to pack up my Sam's Club purchases once I get to the car (they don't have bags, and everything needs to be in plain sight for the employee who checks receipts against cart contents at the door.) I usually forget to take my bags into other stores, but I'm trying to do better, and I often use them to haul things back and forth to church for activities.

    I recently saw ECOBAGS® on another site, and really like the string bags. Thanks for offering the giveaway!

  62. I used reusable cloth grocery bags when I lived in Germany (everyone does there pretty much). I am from the US and I wondered why more people here don't reuse their bags or get cloth ones. The Ecobags look great, I would love to add to my bag collection lol.

  63. i was thinking about buying some bags locally, but would rather win a couple if I can ;)

  64. I don't currently re-use bags at the grocery - but if I won these I would definitely use them over and over.

  65. I use some kind of reusable bag if I'm only going for a couple items, but most of the time I shop for like two weeks at a time. I'd have to have 30 bags for that, so I don't do it. I would like a few bags, though, so that I can make more of an effort. Thanks!

  66. I reuse my plastic bags every week. I keep them in the back of my car and take them in with me with my coupons. Wow your bags would sure be a big and stylish step up for me.

  67. I was having a hard time remembering to take my canvas bags to the store, so now the first thing that goes on my grocery list every week is "TAKE BAGS". I also put a couple in my car, so if I make a quick stop at the store without going home, I have some with me. I'd really love to have a couple of bags that don't have grocery store logos on them however.

  68. i love the great colors.. already use a tote but this one is way cool...maybe my daughter will be motivated to use it

  69. I have a lot of canvas bags I keep in the trunk of my car and use every time I go to the store. This bag would be a great addition.

  70. I like bags I can use for fresh produce. Soon the countryside will be dotted with stands and the pick your own places will be be opening. In the mean-time pick your store.

  71. I use reusable bags almost everywhere. I keep a few in my car at all times...just in case.
    I really like the ECOBAGS & hope to win!

  72. I've never owned a re-usable grocery bag. I would like to start using them. I would also use them for my armfuls of library books.

  73. I was converted to using canvas totes for groceries for a few months ago, but have been feeling guilty about the plastic produce bags that I've still been using for my produce selections. These bags would put my guilty conscience at ease. And it would also do away with my toddler finding the plastic bag stash in the kitchen when my back is turned (no more plastic bags to pull out of the cupboard!).

  74. Children learn quickly about recycling and being green. It's the adults that have a hard time changing their ways.

  75. This would be fantastic!! I use a large wicker basket for planned market trips, but as you said, the string bag would be nice to throw in my purse and use during the unexpected stop at the store. And the tote bag will have a permanent home in my car for the same unexpected stops (or just overflow!). Thanks, this is a great giveaway and way to be green!!

  76. This is what I need!!. I have other reusable bags but always forget about them, they are too bulky to keep in my car all the time. These would be perfect. Love the colors!

  77. Love the ecobags...we have begun taking bags with us to the store...we could use a couple more bags and these look great!

  78. Love re-usable bags for any type of shopping. Grocery most. Need more so I can keep enough in the car. I bring them in and them forget to bring them back to car.
    Thank you for the chance to get another eco-bag.

  79. I have been wanting to purchase bags like these and totes. They would be so much more stylish to carry around plus it would help our earth. I usually try to reuse my plastic bags that I get from the store. I normally go shopping at the bigger stores every two to three weeks for my family a four so I have a lot of bags to get.

  80. Instead of keeping my bags in my car trunk, I think I'm going to hang them from the dry cleaning hooks in the backseat so I remember to bring them into the store with me.

  81. The string bags appear to very European in design to me. They remind me of all French women going to market.

  82. I like going to trader joes with my reusable bags bc you get entered into a drawing for free groceries. As someone who has used canvas bags for a long time, I think its neat to give an initiative to those who may not have thought about how important reusing is. I like the ecobags bc i think they will be good for fruit at the farmers market.

  83. I've been using reusable shopping bags for years. I use a canvas shopping bag as a purse. That way small items I get though out the day can just be dropped inside with my wallet. I have had to scold Wal-Mart cashiers and managers for not wanting to allow me to use bags that had other stores logos on them. I usually get my way when I point out how it shows people walking into the store as I'm leaving that even though I may shop at other stores, I still shop Wal-Mart LOL!

  84. These bags make so much sense. They are not only great for the environment since they are reusable, they are also easy to carry.

  85. This is great. I'd love to have it in my truck so whenever I run to the store for anything, I have them with me. We just bought 5 reusable bags, and I feel amazing about it!!

    Thank you

  86. I'm ashamed to admit that I have two canvas bags that I purchased at my local grocery store to start using and have never used them. Never! They just sit there. Every time I go grocery shopping I forget them. When I come home with even MORE plastic bags I remember that I should have brought my reusable bags! Fortunately, we do use a lot of our grocery bags because where I live they give you blue plastic bags for groceries (or paper bags, of course) and then you use the blue plastic bags for recycling. So, we aren't TOTALLY wasteful, but I do need to start using them! All this Earth Day stuff is reminding me to be a little more conscious in any way that I can, and this is certainly one very easy way!

    I would love to win those bags, they would (hopefully!) give me that little *push* to start being a little more green!

  87. I have a good set of basic canvas grocery type bags that I *try* to remember to use - they really are great, not only because they're earth-friendly, but they hold way more & are far sturdier than plastic bags (no more bags breaking midway to the kitchen). They also stay upright in the back of my car, instead of rolling all around & spilling, like the plastics. I have 5 bags, and that's usually plenty for our weeks worth of groceries for our family of 4. BUT, I'd love to win another, especially the cute string bag!

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