This post isn’t directly related to Paganism, but it is related to environmentalism. Recently, the government has made it compulsory for large retailers to charge 5p for plastic bags in England, which is great news for the environment considering the damage plastic bags do. But many English people are struggling with the adjustment, and are stocking up on tote bags and the like in order to try and avoid the charge. Bearing this in mind, I’d like to advocate a solution that I think is a much better alternative to tote bags, or indeed any other type of bag, that I’ve been using for years – backpacks.
My love of the backpack is all thanks to when I used to be a teaching assistant in Japan, working at 5 schools. Because I’d be at a different school every day, it meant having to take all my many resources, including a laptop, with me at all times. I used to do this with multiple tote bags plus a laptop bag, but I quickly discovered that having no hands free when carrying these things to the schools (some of which I’d have to walk to for a mile or so) was really inconvenient. Not to mention how sore my arms and shoulders got from having to lug all this weight.
So instead I bought a nice big backpack (not the one pictured here, sadly), and used that instead to carry everything. It was sooo much better. Since then I hardly use anything else. I take it to work, I take it to the pub, I take it to my Pagan moots (when it is often filled with incense and offerings and the like). I only ever carry a handbag when I’m going out somewhere smart and I don’t need to bring anything apart from my wallet, keys and phone (and I don’t plan to take anything back home with me). And of course I take my backpack shopping.
So here’s my reasons for why I think English people adapting their bag-habits should opt for backpacks, and not tote bags:
- They tend to have a lot more volume, partly due to their shape (more seams than a tote bag which increases their depth) and partly because they tend to have lots of extra pockets
- They are much better for your body. They distribute weight over your whole upper body, rather than a single arm or shoulder like a handbag or tote bag. So not only will they make it much easier to carry heavy goods, but they’ll also save you from sore limbs.
- They leave your hands completely free, which is way more comfortable and convenient.
- They are secure. Handbags and tote bags can be dropped and slip off your shoulder easily; backpacks don’t.
- They tend to be way tougher than handbags and tote bags. That backpack I got in Japan some seven years ago? Still got it, haven’t need to do any repair work at all, even after daily, heavy use! While most of the tote bags I’ve used get ripped and torn only after a few uses.
- You can easily carry extra tote bags inside your backpack if you need even more bags after a particularly big shop.
- You have more mobility with backpacks – you can run easily.
- They are undeniably unisex
- Seeing that there’s tonnes of great designs available for backpacks now (see example above), any arguments that backpacks aren’t stylish are pretty weak. My own trusty backpack is pretty functional, but I’ve covered it with lots of buttons to give it some individuality.
So, everyone who is fed up of tote bags, go green and embrace the backpack! If you’re looking for something especially Pagan or Gothic, there’s lots of out there – I like the ones available at Kinky Angel.