It’s in the Bag!

So, we’ve all seen the reusable shopping bags and hopefully own a few (at least) — though it took me a while to get into the habit of remembering to take them with me. I’d show up at the grocery store, frustrated that I would be leaving with another 6-7 paper or plastic bags because I’d left my reusables at home. Eventually, it occurred to me to put the bags back in the car immediately after they were unpacked.

But then there were the other shopping trips where I would just buy a few things, enough to fill a bag or two, sometimes not even that. My reusable bags were far too bulky, and frankly, it hadn’t occurred to me to take my reusable grocery bags into other kinds of stores. So now I carry a small, thin canvas bag in my purse or tote bag; it’s actually one that I decorated at the Earth Day celebration in Alexandria earlier this year. It packs up nice and small and is light weight. Whenever a clerk at a store reaches to put my goods in the plastic bag in a manner that’s so automatic it’s almost as a continuation of the scanning motion, I decline and use my own.

On occasions like this morning when I switched bags and forgot my tote, I carried the bagless bundle of office supplies from Staples to the car. A bit clumsy and awkward, but I was pleased that I had a few less plastic bags to contend with.

Think it doesn’t matter?

According to the Green Book, “U.S. Households dispose of nearly one hundred billion plastic bags annually, millions of which end up littering the environment and harming endangered marine animals. By reducing plastic consumption by just two bags per week, you’ll throw away at least one hundred fewer bags per year. If tied together handle to handle, these plastic bags would make a rope long enough to wrap around the earth more than 126 times.”

So, what can you do?

  1. Buy reusable bags and make it really easy for yourself to reuse them.
    Many companies are making bags that fold up into little pouches, reducing the bulk and making them easy to take anywhere. Check out
  2. Say no to plastic bags.
    Even if you forget your reusable bags, question whether you really need a bag at all. Cashiers bag out of habit. Let them know up front that you won’t need the bag, and you might inspire the customer behind you to do the same.
  3. Reuse and recycle the bags you do have.
    Check out this site for creative ideas on what to do with plastic bags.

Your Turn:

What do you do with your grocery bags, newspaper sleeves, and other shopping bags? What’s your trick for remembering to use them? What’s your favorite bag?

Filed Under: ConsumerismReduce-Reuse-RecycleShopping

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