A better reusable shopping bag? JP Monkey thinks so
Reusable shopping bags are ubiquitous these days, so when you find one with features that make life a little easier, it's always worth a closer look.

JP Monkey totes, manufactured in Los Angeles by a Santa Barbara company, include clever extras such as a keychain for keeping grocery store club cards handy. This means you can give your bag to the cashier, and the cashier can scan your membership before passing the tote to the bagger.

JP Monkey bags come with a removable hard bottom to prevent contents from sagging and shifting. They're also equipped with thick reinforced handles to manage heavy loads without ripping. They're machine-washable, an important factor in keeping cross-contaminating meat and poultry bacteria at bay.

Better still, JP Monkey bags are designed out of handsome and sturdy upholstery fabrics. For folks who don't want to be a walking billboard, the totes are free of advertisements, making them versatile enough to be carried for work or play, on neighborhood errands or while traveling the world.

JP Monkey founder Joslyn Gray, a commercial interior designer in Santa Barbara, Calif., started sewing shopping bags for personal use in 1995 and, after receiving overwhelming interest from admirers, launched her company in 2007.

"We're just one option out of many now," Gray says, "but our main mission remains the same -- to get people reusing bags instead of choosing paper or plastic."

The bags cost $25 each on the JP Monkey Website, where buying four or more gets you an automatic 15 percent discount.

Oh, and in case you're wondering: The company's funny name comes from Gray's maiden name initials and the way she identifies herself on her business cards: Chief monkey.