Westporters are busy finding new ways and means of transporting their food stuffs, cleaners, drug store items and household goods with a renewed sense of purpose.

No longer dependent on the retailer to bag purchases in plastic and aware of the diminishing returns of those wimpy paper bags, a new “utility style” is in demand.

Linda Kowalsky, a long time Westport resident, said goodbye to super market plastic bags 15 years ago.

“My husband laughs at me because I’m a fanatic about it. I have insulated market bags for meat and dairy, and one big tote for all the rest of my groceries. Now I won’t be the only ‘nut’ stuffing my shopping totes full at Trader Joes or Fresh Market.”

The town of Westport was one of the first responders banishing the menacing material from the retail market place in 2009. On Aug. 1, 2019, saw Connecticut’s governor slap a 10-cent charge on every plastic bag used with a further mandate that outlaws all plastic bags by 2020. Currently there are no state directives to charge for paper bags, but some retailers have imposed a cost of their own.

What every savvy Westport shopper needs is the perfect totable, a bag that will carry all, is durable, can wipe clean and has built in storage features. Organization is the name of the game with hard driving muscle power designed into every detail.

Must-haves include hold fast handles, adjustable straps, easy close zippers and buckles, deep pockets and add-on pouches, safe puncture proof fabrics and expandable shapes that take on the challenges of a hefty shopping list. Yes, utility is in demand, but with it comes a no compromise style code, purposeful design has to show-off that certain look of Westport panache.

There are gobs of possibilities online, from buy-in-bulk disposals, pricy designer choices and the all-too-common nylon toteables, to those canvas bags we hang on our hallway hooks their logos peering out like treasured post cards of our travels.

But, none have the needed “big job” utility factor that the pros go to, so we checked out Home Depot and found Huskies, 14-inch tool bag tote with outside and inside pockets for $19.97. At Dickies, an insulated zip-up, pull-along by Igloo, perfect for storing meats and dairy while shopping, was $59.99. And at Westport Hardware, an oversized nylon grab-and-go style with front pockets, side D-rings sturdy leather handles and a protective plastic bottom by Veto Pro Pac was $79.95.

The pros agree home utility toteables are in big demand. It’s a market on the upswing, and out-of-the-ordinary utility style matters.

Westporter Marilyn Harding is a byline fashion journalist having covered the American and European designer collections, and is a product forecasting consultant to an international network of leading retailers and designers. Her “Westport Style” column appears monthly.