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I’m preparing to move abroad to Italy – a country that has seemed to have been calling me to it for years, and calling me back to it since I left Florence in 2009 after studying abroad there for four months. I majored in Italian Culture and Civilization at NYU – and have kept my voracious appetite for the Italian culture, art, language, and food.

When I studied abroad in Italy it was the first time I ever really lived on my own. There was no one to cook me food and if I didn’t want to make dinner I had to go out – so it also became the first time in my life that I was responsible for my own grocery shopping. Though, by this time my mother had already transitioned to the use of reusable shopping bags, it was not something that had ever really crossed my mind. So when I went on my first adventure to the markets in Italy – I was surprised to be charged 5 euro cents per bag, and I was the only one in the line using a plastic bag at all!

Though prior to 2012 – when Italy passed a ban on single use-plastics – single-use plastic bags could be found in many larger grocers in Italy, they were rarely used. Italians, like many European countries, never really adopted the use of single-use plastic bags the way Americans have. Perhaps, this is one of the reasons why I believe that the banning of single-use plastics is something that while making a huge positive impact on our environment would make little impact on our day-to-day lives. After all, there are millions upon millions of people existing on this planet – who, for them, the use of plastic bags are not a daily occurrence.

And this time I will be more prepared. On my packing list are ECOBAGS® string bags™ and other reusable shopping bags.

-Written by: Mollie McTavey Nalven, Worldwide ECOBAGS® Brand Advocate