A 16th-century manuscript depicts the construction of the city of Tenochtitlán, with Aztecs strengthening the land using the chinampas method. DEA / G. DAGLI ORTI / Getty Images
Adelina walked briskly everywhere — and never more so than on her daily errands to the open-air mercado near my aunt’s house in Mexico City. My 8-year-old self would try to keep up, braids flying, as I watched our housekeeper’s shopping bags swing on her sturdy shoulders in a kaleidoscope of bright hues. Earlier this year, when a plastic bag ban took effect in Mexico City, news outlets noted a comeback of the traditional reusable bags Adelina once carried, which are made of plastic fiber or ixtle fiber from the maguey plant.