Here’s some tote-bag history for you: The now-ubiquitous L.L. Bean version, the mother of all tote bags, was created in 1944 to haul ice from the car to the ice chest. Useful! In 2017, tote bags have an even greater use: allowing people of all ages to look put-together and smart (my thanks, WNYC), without spending money on a handbag that fits next to nothing and will get ruined on the subway.
So, confirmed: We all love tote bags. But that said: The things are black holes. There are no compartments, no pockets. Everything that goes in sinks to the bottom in a tangled mess: socks and vitamins, hand sanitizers and phone chargers, nasal spray in a sneaker.
Sticking your hand into the dark crevasse of your tote bag can be frustrating (the train is coming and your wallet is buried), upsetting (you think your phone is lost, but no, it’s just hidden beneath the pileup), and dangerous (there is a razor down there for some reason). But I’ve discovered a solution.
The solution is buying several nylon Baggu pouches. It is absolutely the most brilliant thing a tote-using person could do. They are durable, not easily stained, and inexpensive. Here’s what you do: You separate your bag items into categories (pills, makeup, electronic accoutrements), put them in different colored pouches (and the colors are pretty, by the way — I like Fawn and Rust, which make me feel like I’m in I Love Dick), put the whole haul back into the tote bag, and, well, there you go! You’re an organized Mary Poppins.
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