Tote bags just got a new look – “green.” Bag lines such as LeSportsac and Baggu, use environmentally helpful products such as nylon and scrap fabric, instead of animal products or materials harmful to the planet.

“We’re one of the only hand bag brands that has never used any leather or other animal products, but still has bags that look stylish,” said Ashli Hamilton, account coordinator for LeSportsac.

Some students who want to help the environment complained about the look of bags that were eco-friendly.

“I’d like to use cloth bags instead of paper and plastic, but finding cute ones that are affordable and made with materials that help the environment is nearly impossible,” said Sieara Williams, junior in middle childhood education.

Emily Sugihara started a bag line, Baggu (bag in Japanese), with her mother earlier this year because she said that it was so hard to find a reusable tote bag that was fashionable as well as affordable.

“We both saw that there was a lack of reusable bags that were versatile enough to carry to the store yet cute enough to carry around town, so we decided to create one. After going through a ton of designs, we finally came up with a solution that makes using environmentally helpful bags stylish and practical,” Sugihara said.

She said the Baggu line is working to replace paper and plastic bags because there are close to a trillion plastic bags being consumed worldwide, and millions of those end up as litter in streams and streets. The use of paper and plastic bags also wastes millions of trees and barrels of oil, which are used to make the bags.

“That’s really harmful since it could take about 1,000 years for just one bag to decompose in the landfills, and people don’t even consider that,” Sugihara said.

According to the Baggu Web site,, plastics are not biodegradable, they photodegrade into tiny toxic pieces that contaminates soil and water or harms wildlife. Baggu bags are made from ripstop nylon so it is durable and light.

LeSportsac also makes bags with nylon because of problems with global warming.

Some students agree with the direction that the Baggu and LeSportsac lines are going but do not think that they are directly helping the environment.

“I see that the bags can help some people stop using paper and plastic, but I don’t think that they are really doing much to save the planet,” said Kay Robinson, senior in women’s studies.

Sugihara said people could replace over 500 disposable bags wasted each year by using just one Baggu bag, which helps preserve the environment in many ways.

Hamilton said LeSportsac knows that they can not change the world overnight, but hopes that they can set an example for other designers to follow.

Heather Hope can be reached at