By Sherry Swensk

You’ve no doubt heard about California’s recent statewide ban on flimsy, thin plastic grocery bags. While more than 100 cities in 18 states and the District of Columbia have similar measures, it may be a while before Nevada jumps on the plastic ban bandwagon. But that doesn’t mean you can’t take the initiative to B.Y.O.B. (bring your own bags) when you head out to shop. In fact, chic reusable carryalls are making quite a fashion statement.

If you need some incentive, consider this: The average plastic grocery bag has a working lifespan of about 20 minutes. Just twenty minutes from the time your groceries are bagged at the store to being unloaded in your kitchen. Then, most of them go right in the garbage. And because the filmy crepe-thin sacks are made from petroleum, they can take hundreds of years to break down while stuffed in the landfill, littering the landscape, or floating in the ocean. They often get eaten by wildlife and seabirds with animals paying the ultimate price for our convenience.

As awareness of the problem has grown, so have the number of stylish reusable alternatives out there to help keep you planet friendly and fashionable. No one will dare call you a bag lady when you’re carrying Baggu! ( These lightweight, durable bags come in an array of sizes, styles, colors and materials. Their basic best-seller is a perfectly-sized nylon tote that can easily hold two or three plastic grocery bags worth of goods. They’re machine washable, come in umpteen thousand (okay, dozens) of bright colors—both solids and prints—and sell for a very reasonable $9. And they fold up to a small, flat 5 inches by 5 inches square you can throw in your purse or briefcase to keep with you in any shopping emergency. Now that’s convenient.

Another fashion-forward tote-around company is Toss. This San Francisco-based company has been pitching their sexy, chic eco bags into the marketplace since 2007. Their totes, caddies and clutches can even be monogrammed with quality embroidery or stick-on initial patches, and make great gifts for gal pals who are trying to stay ahead of the planet-friendly fashion curve.

If you’re looking to wrap up reusable bags as gifts, you’ll move to the top of the BFF list with Envirosax and Thirty-One. Both are great choices for unique, fashionable and even personalized pouches. You can find both online, but not in stores. Thirty-One’s key to success is its home party approach catering to the bag habit in all of us. Their crazy, cute canvas and polyester totes and cinch sacs appeal to most every most environmentally conscious goddess on the planet. And they’re irresistibly affordable.

Envirosax totes boast some of the brightest and boldest patterns I’ve seen for just about $10; they’re really beautiful. And they roll up in a snap, literally, to easily pop in your purse or center console of your car. I love their 5-bag collections that make terrific gifts, when one just doesn’t seem enough. But if you’d rather make a fashion understatement while walking the grocery aisles, this company also produces an Organic Series, with bags made from natural materials including linen, bamboo and fine grade hemp for the same price.

Probably the biggest roadblock in reaching perfect B.Y.O.B. status is remembering to bring your own bags to the store with you. While we’re not under the pressure of being charged for store sacks yet, like California and some other states, it could come someday. So start opting out of wasteful plastic, and get a good reusable bag habit going now.

Sherry Swensk produces the daily segment “Living Green for Las Vegas” for 8 News Now. Read her blog at Stay up to date with Sherry on Facebook and Twitter and @SherrySwensk