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Possumhaw: Sierra Club tote bag


Shannon Bardwell



"Do you think they kill cows just for the leather?" 


"I don't think so. Maybe they used to like in pioneer times," my walking buddy answered. 


"I'd hate to think they killed the cow just for the leather 'cause I really like leather ... and wood. I like wood." 


My walking buddy and I talk about a lot of things as we wind down Prairie roads. We started wearing those florescent orange vests about a year ago when one of us almost got hit by a speeding pickup that said "beef" on the front.  


Ever since then we wear the orange so that from a distance we look like walking cones. We talk about vehicles that passed us regularly and now don't. We wonder where they are. Did they change cars? Did they move? I figured maybe one was a school teacher and she's out for summer vacation. My buddy said, "No, I've seen her passing at odd hours. I don't think she's a school teacher." 


That day I was kinda caught up in leather and cows. I had gotten a mailing from the Sierra Club inviting me to join at an introductory offer of $15, and with that $15 I would get a canvas and what-looked-like-leather tote bag. I'd had tote bag envy ever since my stepdaughter had come home with this really nice-looking tote bag.  


I wasn't sure the Sierra Club would approve of leather tote bags. The picture wasn't clear, and I didn't want to get caught in that "pleather" scheme again. I also had reservations about the Sierra Club. I wasn't exactly sure what they were about. Saving wildlife and the planet sounded good, but I didn't want to have to hug a tree, and I didn't want to support people putting nails in trees that would harm loggers -- but I really did like that tote bag for $15. 


My brother is a wildlife biologist, so I called him about the Sierra Club. I told him about the tote bag. He said they have some good ideas, but he wasn't impressed with their methods. Then he sent me a Wall Street Journal article; it called the Sierra Club "one of the most powerful environmental lobbies." It also said they had "deep pockets" and had received "$26 million in donations from Chesapeake Energy and others in the gas industry" to promote natural gas.  


Then the article said the Sierra Club reversed its position when "hydraulic fracturing and shale revolution sent gas prices down to $2.50, the lobby fears natural gas will come to dominate U.S. energy production," as opposed to wind, solar and biofuel power, it said.  


I decided to stay out of the fracas and, thinking the tote bag might not be leather anyway, I did the greenest thing I could think of: I took my $15 and went to a local used clothing store and bought a nice second-hand tote bag with genuine leather trim.  



Shannon Rule Bardwell is a Southern writer living quietly in the Prairie.


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