By Julie Lawrence Special to Published Nov 19, 2008 at 8:37 AM

If Sue Princiotto has one message, it's that its-laS-tik is better than plastic. Try saying that three times fast.

Her new product has a rather tricky name, but a simple objective: reduce the single-use plastic bag pandemic while supporting a stock of good causes. It doesn't hurt that they come in cute, fashionable patterns, either.

The New Orleans-based its-laS-tik bags are a line of reusable totes and zippered pouches made from flexible nylon and lycra fabrics. The bags aren't huge -- they can easily roll up to fit into a glove compartment or purse -- but they're durable and stretchy, allowing them to handle up to 20 pounds each.

But because they're carefully designed to take the shape of their contents, they work to reduce the strain of you load, yet resume their original shape when you're done.

By eliminating the "paper or plastic? question from the equation, its-laS-tik bags are a responsible choice for today's green-minded shopper, but as a New Orleans resident, Princiotto had the future of her hometown in mind when she launched her business in April '08. She says her company is committed to providing work to residents in New Orleans and putting money back into a struggling and deserving economy.

"(The bags) are manufactured and recycled in New Orleans, in a factory destroyed by Hurricane Katrina and rebuilt by survivors who persevered," she says. "Almost every aspect of the company is outsourced to New Orleans natives and five percent of the profits are donated to Hope House."

Hope House is a New Orleans non-profit organization that runs charity programs for emergency rent situations, food and shelter assistance, after-school youth groups, adult learning, prison ministry and workshops on poverty and justice.

"I've helped those in need my entire life," Princiotto says. "I love New Orleans and if I can help the environment while helping a city partially devastated by the environment, I feel like I've done some good for this world."

Its-laS-tik bags come in a wide variety of styles and patterns, some of which -- the flowery Big Easy, the shiny black Voodoo and the animal print Bourbon Street -- are named for New Orleans' notable icons and character.

"Let's face it; colorless, lifeless fabric isn't exactly fashionable," she says. A section of her line comes in vibrant, shimmery metallic finishes, with names like Skyline, Tinsel, Jazz Fest and Gunnmetal.

In addition to being a good-looking choice, her bags are washable and economical: the large (15 x 16 in.) is $24.99 or three for $69.99; the small (12 x 13 in.) is $14.99 or three for $39.99 and the zippered pouch is $11.99.

You can purchase from the its-laS-tik bag line via

Julie Lawrence Special to staff writer Julie Lawrence grew up in Wauwatosa and has lived her whole life in the Milwaukee area.

As any “word nerd” can attest, you never know when inspiration will strike, so from a very early age Julie has rarely been seen sans pen and little notebook. At the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee it seemed only natural that she major in journalism. When offered her an avenue to combine her writing and the city she knows and loves in late 2004, she knew it was meant to be. Around the office, she answers to a plethora of nicknames, including “Lar,” (short for “Larry,” which is short for “Lawrence”) as well as the mysteriously-sourced “Bill Murray.”