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Issue 7-11

My First Eco-Shopping Experience

“You don’t have to bag it,” I hurriedly explained to the lady at the other end of the checkout line at the grocery store. “I brought my own totes today!” As the checker and bagger looked on with bemused smiles, I proceeded to open up four recycled nylon bags that were tucked inside a larger canvas market bag imprinted with the words “I’m a Global Bag Lady … And Proud of It!”

“This is my first time eco-shopping,” I chuckled, “and I hope it works!”

As the fresh, frozen and refrigerated items found their way into my nylon bags, I put the dry goods into the market bag. “What’s that all about?” the checker asked, pointing at the canvas bag's logo. “It’s something we’re getting started where I work,” I replied. “I’ve really been learning a lot, and it got me pretty excited!”

I went on to explain how I’d thought I was doing well by using paper bags versus plastic most of the time, plus reusing what plastic bags I had. Then I discovered these reusable bags that did more than benefit the environment. The canvas bags were also a fundraiser that provided small-business loans for underprivileged and hurting women worldwide who needed to find a way to support themselves and their families. “I like that idea much more than using a tote bag that provides free advertising for chain stores!” I exclaimed.

They seemed to agree and catch my enthusiasm, even if the concept hadn’t registered right away. I caught the bagger starting to put the remainder of the vegetables into one of their bags. “Don’t use plastic! We can fit more into my bag! These hold about 30 pounds each!” She grinned as I managed to fit the final groceries into the bags I already had (my years of constant moving have transformed me into an excellent packer). Then, with waves and smiles from checker, bagger and intrigued eavesdroppers in line behind me, I exited the store.

“Wow, that felt good!” I thought as I maneuvered the shopping cart toward my minivan. “But this will take some getting used to. I’m also going to need more bags!”

Have I ever done this kind of eco-shopping since? Hah! I wish I could say that I have. After several more trips to the grocery store I finally remembered to put my own bags in my car trunk, so I was able to use them again this past weekend. Practice makes perfect, and I’m determined to succeed eventually. This is definitely a good habit that needs to be formed.

While I was flipping through some TV channels recently, I came across an environmentalist businessperson who made a comment that really stuck with me. “Everyone who puts a piece of trash into a trashcan is an environmentalist,” he claimed. “The question is … are you willing to go to the next level?”

That statement really made me think. I’d felt pretty good about what I was doing so far. The city ordinances made it easy for us to recycle, with weekly free pickup bins for bottles/cans/plastic and a box for paper and cardboard items. Until now I’d been using paper grocery bags for regular trash, with the confidence that paper was a renewable resource and biodegradable. I stuck clean plastic grocery bags into the empty cardboard tubes from rolls of paper towels, which were then kept under the kitchen sink or in the car for re-use as needed. I clipped the plastic rings from packs of bottles and cans, so wild animals wouldn’t get tangled up in them. At my ecologically cutting-edge uncle’s urging, I’d even tried maintaining a compost pile a few years earlier. I wasn’t very successful at it, but at least I could claim I’d made the attempt!

So what about eco-shopping? Even with my positive initial experience, I still felt pretty reluctant about doing this. Convenience has its benefits, especially for a working mom with a houseful of family and friends who delightfully drop in at any time. Wasn’t bringing my own shopping bags going to be too much effort?

I decided to weigh the pros and cons, and then I made a short priority list:

  • In order to turn eco-shopping into a good habit, I need to keep reusable bags in the trunk of my car for easy access.
  • Due to the limited number of bags being used, I have to be less impulsive and more purposeful about sticking with my original shopping list. As a result, eco-shopping will benefit my budget.
  • We are supposed to be caring for this planet we all live on, not only for ourselves but for future generations. Eco-shopping is one small way that I can begin to help.
  • Every time I use my “Global Bag Ladies Project” shopping bags, it’s a reminder to appreciate what I have and assist those who are hurting. By purchasing these bags, I’ve donated toward microenterprise loans and training for women who are struggling to keep a roof over their families’ heads and food in their bellies. Each GBLP shopping tote bag helps the planet, helps individuals – and helps me carry my groceries. That’s better than plastic, paper, or regular store advertising bags any day!

As I thought more about ecological responsibilities and helping others, I remembered a recent conversation with my 10-year-old nephew about alternative fuel sources, and my 13-year-old son’s frustration with a fast-food restaurant that had no recycling bins for paper, canned or bottled items. These kids were concerned. They had been well taught that reducing, reusing and recycling is a responsible use of resources. My desire has always been to be a good example to them when it comes to caring about the environment in my day-to-day lifestyle. By regularly using the Global Bag Ladies Project shopping bags, I can show my family (and anyone else who’s interested) how to be environmentally conscious and compassionate and generous at the same time. That kind of multi-tasking benefit strongly appeals to me.

The deciding factor between knowing what I should do and what I will do—what motivates me past the inconvenience—is this benefit I can be to others when I eco-shop. It’s amazing how much joy can come from helping others survive and thrive! I’m learning more about how God’s mindset is geared toward this kind of environmental responsibility, alongside unselfishness and deep caring about people, and I’m truly enjoying becoming more godly in those areas.

So my recommendation is to give eco-shopping a try. If you choose to order a Global Bag Ladies Project shopping tote in the process, you could benefit many more people than you would by using a bag that’s advertising a local chain store. You could also benefit more than the environment. Your soul could benefit from a joy of giving that you didn’t expect!

Susan Hands

(Note: Karen Mains is on vacation. Susan Hands is guest-writer for this edition of Soulish Food.)

GOAL: 600 Global Bag Ladies Project shopping bags
to be sold

600 bags @ an average of $20 margin each = an estimated $12,000
 -16 bags already sold = $100 toward our goal.                                           
Goal to Go: 584 bags = $11,900 (!)

Have you considered giving GBLP tote bags as gifts? One of these shopping bags was recently purchased “in honor of” a person being celebrated, who really appreciated the donation in their name and the purpose of the GBLP bag. Other suggestions have been to fill a GBLP tote bag with shower gift items for an upcoming wedding, give these bags as Christmas gifts, or purchase several as favors for a women’s retreat.

To receive your own Global Bag Ladies Project tote bags, click on this GBLP Purchase Order, print it off, fill it out and send it with a check made out to Hungry Souls/GBLP for $20-$50 to Box 30, Wheaton, IL 60187.

2008 Pilgrimage to France

There is room for 10 more people to participate in the upcoming pilgrimage to France. The deadline is August 31st and full payment will be due at that time. We truly hope you can come, as this will be a personal and unique opportunity to experience France in the company of other pilgrims lead by Karen Mains ( ) and Valerie Bell ( ).

2008 Advent Retreat of Silence

In the next Soulish Food you’ll be receiving more details about the upcoming Advent Retreat of Silence for 2008. Many who previously attended this retreat have made it an annual tradition. Join us for a wonderful 24 hour period that prepares your heart and soul for the upcoming holiday season.

Here Is a GREAT “Yes!” Opportunity —
Soundtrack™ for Millennium

Last fall Melissa Timberlake and I attended Pathway Ministries’ unique interactive, meditative experience held in Millennium Park in Chicago. This was a fabulous morning! I am strongly recommending that all the men in my life avail themselves of this event designed for up to 10 participants.

Planners and designers John Crilly and Mark Nesbit will provide you with iPods that store pre-taped music and meditations, as well as a workbook to remind you of Scriptures and in which you can jot your thoughts as you take three hours to slowly visit six sites within the Park. The cost is $95, not including transportation or lunch, and is well worth every penny. This would make a perfect couple experience. Spend a night in the city, either before or after Soundtrack™ for Millennium. See sidebar for more specific information.

Microenterprise Trip Opportunity

If you are interested in studying the effects of microenterprise ventures in Kenya, we are putting together a small group (16) in conjunction with Nairobi Evangelical Graduate School of Theology to journey to Nairobi next year, March 25 to April 6, 2009. The itinerary and the pricing are still being negotiated. Contact Karen Mains ( ) or by phone 630-293-4500 and we will get back to you when this information is finalized.


The Soulish Food e-mails are being posted bi-weekly on the Hungry Souls Web site. Newcomers can look that over and decide if they want to register on the Web site to receive the bi-weekly newsletter. You might want to recommend this to friends also. They can go to

Susan Hands

Susan Hands

"The deciding factor between knowing what I should do and what I will do—what motivates me past the inconvenience—is this benefit I can be to others when I eco-shop. "
A Billion Bootstraps

A Billion Bootstraps: Microcredit, Barefoot Banking, and The Business Solution for Ending Poverty

A bold manifesto by two business leaders, A Billion Bootstraps shows why microcredit is the world's most powerful poverty-fighting movement and an unbeatable investment for your charitable donations.

A Billion Bootstraps unearths the roots of the microcredit revolution, revealing how the pioneering work of people such as Dr. Muhammad Yunus-winner of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize-is giving hope to billions. Philanthropist and self-made millionaire Phil Smith and microcredit expert and consultant Eric Thurman provide a riveting narrative that explores how these small loans, arranged by “barefoot bankers,” enable impoverished people to start small businesses, support their families, and improve local economies. By paying back their loans instead of simply accepting handouts, men and women around the world are continually giving others the same opportunity to change their futures.

Smith and Thurman also examine why traditional charity programs, while providing short-term relief, often perpetuate the problems they are trying to alleviate, and how applying investment principles to philanthropy is the key to reversing poverty permanently.

A Billion Bootstraps explains how ordinary people can accelerate the microcredit movement by investing charitable donations in specific programs and then leveraging those contributions so the net cost to lift one person out of poverty is remarkably low. You'll discover how to get more for your money by donating with the mind-set of an investor and calculating measurable returns-returns that will change lives and societies forever.

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2008 Pilgrimage to France

God Through the Eyes of the Artist and the Artist In the Eye of God
October 24 - November 10, 2008

This is a journey for men and women. We have room for 10 more pilgrims. The land fee of $2,592 is due August 31, 2008. Airfare is not included. Depending upon the exchange rate (the dollar being low), we may have to add a bit more to the land price, but we hope not to do this.

If you have any questions,
contact Karen Mains ( ) or Valerie Bell ( ).
We can provide you with a flyer that has all the details and the general itinerary or you can go to the travel Web site at to print off the pages you need for full information.

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Millennium Park

What Music Is God Playing In The World? In Your Life?

Soundtrack™ for Millennium is a multifaceted one-day experience designed to help you encounter God and to open yourself to His movement in your heart and mind.

Pathway ( will provide you a selection of purposed words & music for use during the day of the retreat. We will act as guides on a crafted journey to encounter the heart of God through the experiential environment of Millennium Park, with its unique combination of architecture, monumental sculpture and landscape design.

You will experience art, solitude, music, natural beauty, social immersion, community and play. Please plan to join us for this unique event.

Experiences are available on the following dates. If you would like to bring a group, we can accommodate up to 10 participants per event.

Dates (all Saturdays):
AUGUST 9, 16

The Retreat Fee is $95 per person (meals and transportation not included). To register, please respond to John Crilly at or call 630-641-4461.

Copyright 2006-2008 Mainstay Ministries. All rights reserved.

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