Basalt woman hopes bag sales help environment | AspenTimes.com

Basalt woman hopes bag sales help environment

Hannah Goulding
Special to The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

Contributed photoStephanie Heinecken shows off a collection of her shopping bags, which are sold through her Basalt-based business, Saxsy Stuff. Heinecken says she hopes more people use the cloth bags, rather than plastic ones available at supermarkets, to help the environment.

BASALT – A local mom is trying to help the environment by selling reusable cloth bags for groceries and other purposes.

Stephanie Heinecken, a Basalt mother and entrepreneur, said the idea for her new business, Saxsy Stuff, came when she learned about the “Great Garbage Patch,” the Texas-sized mass of floating plastic in the Pacific Ocean, midway between Hawaii and San Francisco.

“In having two small children, my grocery shopping has increased substantially, and my use of plastic bags skyrocketed,” she said. “I had always recycled them, but after learning about the Great Garbage Patch, I discovered that that kind of plastic generally doesn’t degrade. So I started taking canvas bags in, but they were so plain and hard to use.”

More than 380 billion plastic bags are used every year in the United States, and about 5 percent of plastic bags are recycled, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The remnants can stay in landfills or the Great Garbage Patch for 1,000 years.

Heinecken’s aim was to create a reusable bag with enough appeal to lure consumers away from plastic.

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“I figure if you actually like the product, you’ll want to bring it into the store with you,” she said. “It’s like a new purse or hat that’s pretty and eye-catching – you remember to bring it everywhere.”

Saxsy Stuff offers a new twist in eco-friendly shopping bags by introducing pretty and lightweight, yet practical, reusable cloth bags. With their wider bottom and strap, they can to hold up 30 pounds, saving three to four plastic bags with each use.

“There’s a moment that happens in life when you realize something that has been right under your nose,” Heinecken said.

For her, that trigger was having children because it made her realize not only how much food they consume but how much the country consumes, the trash we produce, and how much we affect the environment.

“It’s important to me the legacy that I leave as a person; I’m a role model to my children to not be so wasteful. I’m directly affecting the outcome of their lives, I want them to have a better life than I have,” Heinecken said. “This brought certain awareness to my life that I hadn’t had before. I realized that I actually could do this – I can just get fabric and design a bag that I can stuff in my purse and take with me.”

Between taking her kids to and from school, Heinecken is affecting consumer habits, one colorful bag at a time, starting at the grocery store. Among the many shoppers using plastic bags, Heinecken proudly sets an example when she responds to the question, “Do you need bags today, Ma’am?” by saying, “I have my own.”

Generally, over the life of one reusable bag, 1,000 plastic bags are saved from a landfill.

“A family of four could easily save 1,500 a year,” she said.

Heinecken goes through a fabric company in North Carolina to build her bags, which retail for $16. They are later shipped to her home, where she sells them through her website, saxsystuff.com, and locally at corky woods in Basalt and Aspen Electric.

“Now I just have to find out how to make reusable shampoo in a reusable bottle,” she laughed.

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