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01 May 2009

Handbag make-over for an eco-cadet

This is an article I wrote for Peppermint Magazine's launch issue in August 2008.

One tote-sized revolution at a time is enough I say. Faced with the enormity of our planet’s eco-troubles, it would be easy to hide behind the Generals. However, the thrill of victory is contagious, so I have resolved to make a series of small advances. Starting with a green makeover for the handbag that carries me through each battle…oops, day.

Tissues. Every parent needs a wad of these for wiping away green trails from small noses (green is good, but not that type). But where are all the recycled choices? We can make recycled paper for wiping other anatomical parts, so why not tissues? I will have to track down some reusable organic cotton hankies instead.

Lipstick. Thankfully my favourite lippie (Sante Shiny Bronze) is already natural and petrochemical-free. Apparently a woman swallows about 2kg of lipstick in her lifetime, so I was an early convert to making sure that it was tasty jojoba oil and plant waxes.

Reusable bags. I freely admit to a type N.R.M.R.B. personality (never remember my reusable bags). Those oversized celebrity handbags look as though they have about six green bags stuffed into them, but my econo-tote calls for a more compact solution. To the rescue, a good friend designed a nifty Stuffit shopping bag that scrunches up so small I can adopt several for my handbag.

BYO fork. We seem to eat so many meals in the car or on the go (incredibly, Australians do eat more meals outside the home than in) and that can mean a lot of waste. I wince when I throw out a once used utensil or container because there are so few recycling bins in public places. Reviving my Girl Guide motto, I’ll Be Prepared in future with a reusable bamboo plastic fork. Why didn’t I think of that 30 forks ago?

Reusable coffee mug. This eco-message has made it through and I love my slimline SIGG thermos that fits neatly in my bag. An even sweeter reward, some coffee shops give a discount when you B.Y.O. cup.

Wallet. Could it be that in my quest to avoid animal hide, my handbag has been infiltrated by the dastardly PVC? That most toxic of all plastics with the recycle symbol #3? I can’t see a symbol on it so I will have to abstain. Hemp it will need to be, or, one made locally from recycled fabric.

Receipts. Among the miscellaneous paraphernalia, 28 receipts. Possibly enough to make a box of recycled paper tissues. If we could all remember to ask for ‘no receipt please’, surely we could save a rainforest or three.

Car keys. Hmm? I can’t get rid of those unless I get rid of the petrol guzzler they ignite. For that skirmish, this cadet will have to return another day…

With thanks to dear friends for the inspirations in this article.

Author & Editor

Tracey Bailey is the founder of Biome Eco Stores and mother of two. After working in corporate communications and starting a family, she made a choice to be part of the solution to our planet's future and started Biome Eco Stores. Tracey is passionate about educating the community about living eco-friendly and sustainable lives through her extended product, chemical, health and environmental knowledge.


Recycled Purse Chick said...

I enjoyed reading what you put together here. Just FYI... they DO make recycled tissues now (as gross as it sounds), they're called Small Steps and they're made by Marcal... at least that's what's on the box. The only thing is... they're a bit hard on the nose.

Oh, and there's a whole line of recycled handbags out now (I just so happen to own a company that sells eco friendly "stuff" (

Thanks for being entertaining!

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