eusable shopping bags are a great idea in theory. You buy a bag, and bring it back every time you go shopping, no more need for paper or plastic bags.
The only problem is that many people don’t do it like that. They keep getting new reusable bags because they forget the old. The rate of reuse is so low that some grocery stores no longer offer a small discount for bringing your own bags because too few people do it.
I’ll admit the discounts are a nice thing when you can get them, but they shouldn’t be your only reason for bringing your own bags.
It’s easy to forget to bring your reusable bags to the store, if they aren’t right there when you head out. Most of us need it to be really convenient to remember the bags or it’s just not going to happen. Some people keep them by the door, others in the car, still others buy reusable bags that can be folded up small enough to fit into a purse.
Reusable bag quality matters too. You can get cheap ones many places, but some of those only last a few uses. They really aren’t as beneficial as better quality reusable bags that last far longer. My canvas bag, for example, puts up with quite a bit of abuse. I also have some old jeans that need to be made into shopping bags – far better than buying more reusable bags. Now I just need to make the time to get the job done.
If you’re developing a stack of reusable bags because you keep buying new ones when you forget, you need to build a new habit. Too many reusable bags are not good for the environment. Excess bags are a waste, especially if they’re just some sort of thicker plastic rather than fabric.
If you find yourself with a lot of extra reusable bags, a good start is to find people to give them to. Family members and friends who might use them are a pretty good place to start. They can make a nice sort of gift wrap, depending on style. Not quite as nice if they have store logos on them, but if you know people who won’t mind, not a bad gift either.
The main thing to remember is that any activity you do with the intent of being environmentally friendly only has a chance of actually being so if you do it correctly. Do it wrong and it becomes a feel good gesture that doesn’t actually accomplish anything and may even have more of negative effect than what you were trying to avoid.