By Nicole Walters,

If you went to grade school with a girl who used oral reports as a forum for environmental issues, chances are you went to grade school with me. Since I can remember, I have been an advocate for the environment. So last year when my project launching hulu ended and the Green is Universal project came across my desk, I jumped at the opportunity. It seemed a natural progression, no? From hand drawn posters of recycling bins and the ozone layer to digital versions of the same… and this way I get to save paper.

Being an advocate and actually being someone who does things to save the environment are two very different things. Launching a website like shined a light on all of the things that I wasn’t doing, and as my knowledge grew, so did my list of personal commitments.

verde.jpgOne of my first was to remove plastic shopping bags from my life. So I bought this bag. There were lots of other designs to choose from but I liked that this one said “Verde!” instead of “Green!” (I realize it’s the same thing, but when you work on a “green website” about “going green” and all the things you can do to “green your life”, it’s funny, but you start to develop an aversion to the word.)

The first time I used my new bag, I was so proud! It fit what would have been about 3 or 4 plastic bags worth of groceries and slung easily over my shoulder. But that was just a small, stop-by-the-shop-on-the-way-home-from-work, shopping. I live out in the ‘burbs where weekend grocery trips are a major event to some folks. I’ve seen families pack two carts full of food for the week. My family isn’t that big yet, but I knew my single canvas bag was not going to cut it for that weekend’s trip.

Any Project Runway fan whose worth her salt knows how to make a pattern, so I used my Verde! bag as a template and commenced to making 4 more. Don’t ask me how long it took, but now that I’m practiced I’ve decided to make more as gift bags for the coming holiday season to cut out gift wrapping. Actually, now that I think about how long it took, I should get started soon! Since those initial 5 I’ve managed to add a few more to my collection, including a Marks & Spencer bag brought from the UK by my mother-in-law and a Green is Universal bag that conveniently rolls up to a size that fits in my purse.

And after all this effort… I still forget them sometimes! I know I’ve got work to do, but it’s like we say here at Green is Universal – it’s the little things we do that add up to make a big difference. The amount of plastic I’ve reduced in my life is significant to the environment, but in our shrink-wrapped, fast-paced world, there will always be more room to reduce, reuse and recycle.