Suzanne Perez Tobias

Fetch your giant eco-friendly tote bag: Living green requires lots of stuff

While Wichita leaders consider a ban on single-use plastic bags, you might want to track down a free-trade, recycled-fabric backpack or tote and start squirreling away items you’ll need when the city goes all-out green.

And make sure it’s a big one, because saving the environment requires a lot of stuff.

A colleague and I recently pondered what we’d need to carry with us if we wanted to get really serious about saving the planet. If we plan to take the supplies with us on a bike or scooter, we decided, we might want to start some weight-room training.

Some of the items you might need:

  • Reusable bags for groceries and other items. Plastic bags litter streets and waterways and don’t break down in landfills, which is why Bag Free Wichita advocates for reusable bags. If you’re a business owner who has shunned plastic bags altogether, contact the group to get a “Bag Free Wichita” decal for your front window.
  • While you’re at it, pick up some reusable mesh produce bags to carry fruits and vegetables inside your cloth shopping bag.
  • Bike riding is a pollution-free mode of transport, so add a bicycle helmet to your backpack of tools. And now that Wichita has electric scooters for rent, you’ll want to have that helmet handy for quick scooter jaunts.
  • A reusable, BPA-free water bottle is a must for staying hydrated and ditching the disposable plastic bottles that pack landfills.
  • You’ve no doubt heard that plastic straws are on their way out — Seattle is the first major U.S. city to ban them — but that doesn’t mean you have to give up straws altogether. You could carry a collapsible, reusable straw — like the aptly named Final Straw — or biodegradable options made of bamboo, wheat stalks or avocado pits.
  • If you plan to pack a meal or snack, you’ll want a reusable bento box, along with old-fashioned washable cutlery and a cloth napkin. No more plastic sandwich bags, utensils or paper napkins.

  • By choosing rechargeable batteries over standard alkaline, you can save money and help the environment.

  • And then you’ll want a solar-powered charger (or three or four) for your car, boat, phone and rechargeable batteries.

  • For those makeup touch-ups on the go, consider cruelty-free cosmetics and tools, like ones made with bamboo handles and recycled aluminum bristles.

  • If you’re a parent, organic cloth diapers are more environmentally friendly than disposables, of course, so be sure to save some room in your backpack for those and all their accouterments — liners, flushable inserts, wet bags, etc.

  • And modern, environmentally conscious women should consider all the options for greener feminine hygiene products — things like reusable cloth menstrual pads and silicone menstrual cups.

While we can’t change the world — or Wichita — overnight, simple changes can make a difference. But don’t expect to pack light.