Grabbing a reusable shopping bag as you head out to the store sounds like such a simple thing, but in reality it can be a very difficult habit to pick up. All too often I head out to the store to realize that my bags are still at home.
Reusable shopping bags do quite a bit for the environment if you can remember to use them. Plastic bags are hard on the environment not only in terms of their manufacture and distribution, but in that so few are recycled. They’re terrible for wildlife. They break down very, very slowly.
Paper bags are a problem as well, although they do generally come from wood from managed forests. But they are heavier than plastic and can actually have a higher environmental cost than plastic in terms of manufacture and distribution. On the plus side, they break down nicely.
Reusable bags can even save you money. Some stores charge customers for bags, while others give a small discount for bringing your own. Either way the cost difference is small, but it can add up over time.
There are many ways to get reusable bags. You can buy them at your local grocery store, often for about $1 a bag. They’ll have the store’s logo or something along those lines on them, but they’ll get the job done. On the other hand, you’re a walking advertisement for that company. They may also not be terribly durable.
You can sometimes find them free at events. One of mine came from a local fair. The city’s information booth was giving them out.
You can also shop online for them. This is the most expensive option, but if you want the most durable and attractive bags, this is probably the way to go. You may also spend less in the long run. Many of the store bags and free bags are poorly made and won’t last through that many uses if you load them too heavily.
The key to building up a good reusable bag habit is to find something that works for you. Here are some ideas:
1. Keep them in the car.
Reusable bags are light, and take up very little room when empty, so they’re a good choice to just toss in the trunk. Do so after each time you use them, and they’ll make it to the store with you every time you drive over.
2. Buy bags that fold up into your purse.
If you carry a purse, this can work well for you. Some varieties fold up very small, and you can just have them with you all the time. No more forgetting them even in the trunk!
3. Put it at the top of your shopping list.
Just be sure you go over your list right before you leave. This won’t help you much if you don’t look at your list until you’re actually at the store.
This drives me nuts actually. lol I love the cloth bags – you can pack a lot in and they are easier to carry without ripping. And I hate plastic bags that pile up and the recycling pickup doesn’t take.
So I unpack groceries, put all the bags back inside of one and take them immediately back out to the van. And there they stay as I head into the grocery store . I usually don’t remember until I’m checking out and don’t want to hold up the line so I can run out and grab them.
I’ve switched from putting them in the back to keeping them in the passenger foot area but still doesn’t always help. So maybe I’ll try writing it at the TOP of my list as you suggest.
We don’t have a vehicle but hang our bags on a hook right under the hook for the house keys. It also helps that free plastic bags are illegal in the country where I live, so I know I’ll have to pay if I don’t bring my own!
I have the bags in the back of my car and 90% of the time I grab a bunch on my around the car to get my daughter out. I love having the bags in the car. There is a pile in the chair in the kitchen of ones that need to go back out, under my purse, so I don’t forget to take them with me. My daughter has gotten good about reminding me to get them when we go shopping because now she has her own bags, their pink lol.
There has been a few times where the cashier has not used my bags and I’ve moved everything from the plastic ones to my bags and then handed them. Sure they look a little annoyed but I put my bags up there for a reason.
When the green shopping bags first came out I bought a couple so I didn’t have to use plastic bags, but then I forgot to take them with me next time I went shopping, so I bought some more, and then I forgot to take them next time I went shopping, so I bought some more, and so on. Now I have a whole pile of these green shopping bags which use much more carbon to produce than plastic bags, so I’ve actually done more harm than good. I kind of feel the green shopping bag symbolises what is wrong with our approach to saving the environment. Buying more stuff will not solve the problem. The only way to reduce environmental damage is by consuming less stuff.