I hope by now most of us reply, “I brought my own bags” to this seemingly timeless question. However, the second best option is on the horizon for all you “Oh crap, I left my bags in my car” folks.

Earlier this year, the city of San Francisco banned the use of polyethylene bags altogether. While these bags actually produce less pollution to make than their paper counterpart, their creation relies heavily on imported petroleum. Now the rush is on between the most innovative upstart companies to produce the cheapest biodegradable plastic bags, wraps, and containers.

One of the leading producers, Earthcycle, makes plastics from palm oil. Earthcycle is currently working on a biodegradable plastic bag, but its “environmentally friendly” packaging materials can be found at Wal-mart and Trader Joe’s. However, we should be aware of the danger palm oil monocultures pose to the surrounding tropical forests. An even more exciting innovation comes from Biotech Environmental. Because about 95% of all plastics end up in landfills, Biotech created Bio-Batch — a microbial additive that reduces the decomposition time of plastics to 1-5 years. (MORE)

basBag.jpgBut to avoid spending excess energy in the production of any sort of bag, whether it’s biodegradable or not, best thing we can do is remember to bring our own bags — and use them over again. Bazura Bags, for example, offers adorable, large reusable bags made from recycled juice packs by a women’s co-op in the Philippines.

The Market Bag pictured here, ($26.95) is just one of Basura’s many functional styles offered.

Related: eco-friendly and eco chic shopping bag guide (previously on AltCon 3.26.07)

Dec 20 07 is LA County’s official Ban the Plastic Bag Day.
To join in and show your support, sign the petition here.