Hi. I'm Sara!

Welcome to Mercer + Green.
I am a born and bred New Yorker, mom of two little girls who loves
all things New York and is passionate about healthy living.

In The Spolight- Ellen Van Der Laan of Baggu

What girl doesn't love a good bag? I know I do! Clutches, totes, satchels, I am an equal opportunity bag lover (bag obsessor). However, there is one particular bag that holds a very special place in my heart. Baggu. In a gorgeous array of colors and patterns these eco-friendly, reusable bags are not just for the grocery store. I have used mine as a shopping bag, beach bag, tote, place for my wet spin clothes etc. etc. I keep a Baggu in every one of my purses so no matter where I am I always have one at the ready. I long ago gave up taking disposable shopping bags from stores, and thanks to Baggu I am always carrying my purchases in style.

Being a huge Baggu fan I was thrilled when co-founder Ellen Van Der Laan agreed to answer a few questions for my "In the Spotlight" series. Check out her answers below!

1. Tell me a little bit about Baggu bags. What lead you to create them?

My childhood best friend, Emily Sugihara, and her mom, Joan Sugihara, were looking for a well designed, cool, but still affordable reusable shopping bag but couldn't find one. Emily had an econ and fashion degree, and her mom is also really gifted in design and happens to be an amazing seamstress. Together they decided to start the business. I was working in fashion advertising in New York as a designer, and I did the branding at nights after work with Emily at her apartment. It just grew from there!

2. How did you come up with the unique "bag in a bag" design for Baggu?

Emily and her mom wanted to use up the fabric that was left over from cutting the handles of the bag, when the pattern was cut out. They designed the square pouch from that material, and made the bag almost entirely waste-less.

3. Why is it important to carry your own bags when going shopping?

Well, of course there's the obvious - not creating waste by using disposable plastic or paper bags. But I also think just being conscious of not creating that waste makes me more conscious of using a reusable option whenever possible. As an added bonus, you feel really cool carrying a good looking bag. We knew that was really important to us - to make the bags still feel stylish. Because ultimately that's the real reason people are going to use them.

4. Baggus come in so many fun colors and patterns, what is your inspiration for each bag?

Inspiration comes from a lot of different places, but usually we have a theme in mind. It could be a time period, artist, or region that drives our choice of color and prints. Our last wave of releases was really influenced by the graphics and apparel from 1980s surf culture. We did a lot of polka dots, teals, peaches and yellows.

5. Do you have a favorite Baggu?

Yes. It's the standard Baggu, in the constellation print we collaborated on for the No.6 Store. I just love it.

6. What do you use your Baggu for?

Everything - not just carrying home shopping purchases, although I use them everyday for that. I've used the Baggu in my purse to sit on grass - my Dad has even used one as a sun hat at my sisters graduation. I use my Big Baggus for laundry and going to the beach. Baby Baggus for carrying lunch to work. All sizes make great gift wrapping, and the gift of the bag is an added bonus.

7. Besides Baggu, do you have other favorite green items or products you love to use?

There's a soap company called Common Good  - it's great. They make hand soap, dish soap and laundry detergent. All plant based, not synthetic. You buy reusable containers, and then you can refill your bottle at the refilling stations they have around the city.  The refills are super cheap - maybe $2.50 for a bottle of great smelling soap products. The best part is it actually lathers and works. I wish this idea of refilling stations would become more mainstream - there are so many products that wouldn't have to be packaged in disposable containers if you could easily refill at grocery stores or drug stores.

8. What are your goals for Baggu's future? Any big and exciting plans you can share with us?

We're looking into expanding our retail presence...

9. Finally, if you could go on your dream summer vacation where would you go and what essential/can't live without them items would you pack?

I grew up in coastal southern California, so when we traveled we never did the whole island/beach thing. So I've never been to Hawaii and right now that's my dream vacation.

I'd definitely pack my luggage with Baggu zipper bags - they make packing and unpacking so much easier since everything stays organized. Have to have sunscreen - I just started using Viva Sana sunscreen since it's non-toxic. My Kindle - I'm totally addicted to it, especially while I'm traveling. Lip Balm - I'm very into this Vapour one right now. I'd bring this Tata Harper hydrating spray I just got - I think I could spend hours lying on the beach spraying my face with that stuff - it smells so good! And then sunglasses and my iPod.

Green Juices vs. Green Smoothies and a few favorites Part 1

Green Juices vs. Green Smoothies and a few favorites Part 1

Summer Picnic Ideas