Monday, July 14, 2008

The Cat is (MMMRRRRROOWWWWW!) Outta The Bag

You know, one year ago when I started carrying my own reusable grocery bags everywhere, I felt like Supreme Eco Dork. But now? It's totally vogue.

Did I start this super trend? Of course I did. not. But it is cool to see so many people with their own set of reusable bags trotting around Kroger.

I imagine most of you who are reading this blog have your own set of bags too. If you don't - that's your challenge. Pick up a few bags - you can usually find them right at your grocery store for under a buck. Target has some really large ones that fold up flat and fit in your purse. You can always make your own as well, or just re-use some sturdy bags you have laying around at home.

If you already use bags for groceries, step it up a notch. Make sure you carry your own produce and/or deli bags. And don't forget to take your bags with you when you shop at the hardware store, the bookstore, the mall. Basically, vow not to take another plastic bag from anyone ever again.

And if you're already doing all that, then practice a random act of kindness to the planet. The next time you're at the grocery store, give one of your bags (you know you've collected way more than you need!) to the person behind you. I promise they will appreciate it and, who knows, you may just convince someone else the value of going green.

**That photo is offered courtesy of fellow eco-blogger, Organic Needle, who happens to sew produce bags and other organic cotton items and sells them on Etsy. And yeah, this is as close to an "ad" as it gets on my page. And no, she doesn't send me any money. In fact, she doesn't send me anything. Not even cookies. But she has promised me a reusable iced tea bag sometime soon. And boy am I thirsty. ;-)


Heather @ SGF said...

Oooh. Good idea. I get so many bags for free I should give some to people at the store (or pick up a few extra).

Another thing to watch out for - Around Earth Day, stores give bags away for free. Watch those ads!

Anonymous said...

I use my cloth produce bags at the farmers' market every week and love them. No more moldy veg in the refrigerator, if it gets pushed to back. (Around the market, I'm known as the lady who does not take plastic bags.)

In a case of reuse, I use two old plastic salad clamshell packages to prevent my tomatoes, peaches, etc. from being crushed in my big market bag.


Vera said...

I like taking my paper bags to Kroger because they give the 5 cent discount per bag...I have to ask if they do it for other non paper bags, because I have my super cute basket.

Chile said...

Best wedding present we got, almost 2 decades ago, was a set of handmade denim grocery bags. They're the same size as a paper grocery bag and even have a little pocket at the top for delicate items like avocados or tomatoes that you'd rather not smash under the bag of bulk wheat berries.

I have gotten so many nickles back for using these too, although the stores are quietly beginning to drop that program.

I did pick up free bags last Earth Day and even won a drawing for a free bag filled with stuff from the store!

Bobbi said...

My hubby and I have been using reusable bags for over 2 years now. Every week after we unload groceries, the bags go back in the car so they'll be there for the next shopping trip.

In our small town of Harrodsburg, KY, we are part of a small minority of shoppers who carry their own bags. I write a monthly column for our local newspaper and I'm always mentioning the use of reusable bags, but the idea still isn't catching on.

Wendy said...

I was going to comment on what an uber eco-geek I am at carrying my cloth bags to the Farmer's Market, and someone beat me to it ;).

I'll have to think about your "share-the-love" challenge. It's going to be tough to give up even one of my cloth bags. Maybe the girls and I can get to work making some more so that we always have one or two to share ... maybe we can even come up with some keen logo/slogan ... maybe we can even get free fabric from Freecycle or use repurposed old clothes.

Ooh! Got those wheels a whirling ....

ib mommy said...

I have canvas bags coming out of my butt and I always forget to grab them before I walk out of the house. The kids and I had a furoshiki day and sewed a stack of them from fabric we had left over from a sale a few years back. We can leave the fabric squares in the car and fold one into a bag in a few seconds.

We also started using them as gift bags since every other weekend someone gets invited to a birthday party. It's a good way to share our bag love!

I will post a link to the furoshiki on the Yahoo! Group in case anyone is interested in making them. If nothing else, they are quite the conversation piece:)

Jennifer said...

I take my bags everywhere, and use them even for produce (then the cashier takes them out of the bag to weigh them, then I get the evil eye). I give them as gifts to everyone I know. I hardly see anyone in my store using them here in So Cal. My husband drives me nuts when he brings plastic bags in the house, but he's "too embarrassed" to use re-usable bags. People take notice at what I'm doing when I don't take a plastic bag. Great post!

Chile said...

IB Mommy, "I have canvas bags coming out of my butt" gives a whole new meaning to cloth wipes! ;-)

Green Bean said...

Great idea - of giving a bag to someone in line behind me. I have collected way too many. Some stores give them out for free. Sometimes I can't pass up that cute one at the thrift center or I buy some from the 4H because my friend organized their reusable bag sale and is trying to educate people on the problems of plastic. Or sometimes a friend gives me some because they know I'm "green." Yup. I have tooooo many. Next time I'm in line with an extra bag and the person behind me is not, they're gonna get a little green gift.

leslie said...

I bring my canvas totes filled with plastic grocery bags, and I am having difficulty getting the "baggers" to use them.

I explain at the outset that I would like them to use the bags I brought with, and unless I watch them like a hawk, I end up with new plastic bags, and empty canvas bags, and then they ask if I want to recycle the old plastic.

Has anyone else had trouble indoctrinating the checkers/baggers to the concept of "use the bags I brought"?

(Why do I get the feeling Burbanmom is thinking something along the lines of "dance with the bag that brung ya"? )

Burbanmom said...


Maybe you could politely tell him that he needs to treat old bags with a little respect.

And also ask him to reuse the bags you brought.


Luv ya, but I couldn't resist!

- 'Burbs

Heather @ SGF said...

As far as checkout people, yeah, some of them just don't understand why you wouldn't want the bag. Others, I think, are just so used to bagging with plastic that although your canvas is right there, they are running on auto pilot and forget.

I normally use the self check out (I only get a couple item at a time) so normally I don't have to deal with this, but it's happened from time to time. Also, we bought jeans for my hubby at Pennys this weekend and when we told the lady we didn't want a bag, that we'd just carry them out, she looked at us funny and then asked twice if we were sure. No, really, I"m sure!

Lori in webster groves said...

Our local grocery store chain started selling reusable bags about six months ago, and I promptly bought about six of them. I keep half in my car, and my husband drives the other half around. Shortly thereafter I found, where I bought their ACME workhorse bag - fits even in my tiny little purse - and a few of their produce bags. Last week, our CSA box included two reusable bags with the CSA's name and logo custom printed on the side.

With all those bags around, you'd think we'd never come home with a plastic bag. Well, you'd be wrong - but we are getting much, much better about it. I'd say we bring home one or two a week, compared to the ten or twelve we brough home before. We hope to cut it down to zero by the end of the summer...

arduous said...

Heh, I am not an eco-geek for bringing my own bags to the farmers' market. EVERYONE brings their own bags here. It's pretty cool actually. And even at the regular grocery stores, you see more and more people with their own reusable bags.

I AM an eco-geek because I always bring my own bags for produce. I do not have fancy Organic Needle bags, much as I lust after them. So I just use my bread bags, since I don't make my own bread. They actually work really well as produce bags because they're plastic, and the produce stays fresh. I recommend it to those of you who don't make your own bread!

heather t said...

Leslie - this is half the reason I use the U-Scan lanes. I hate them, but I have complete control over what bags get used, at least for my stuff.

And passing out reusable bags to other shoppers is a way to get some control over what bags get used for *their* stuff.

PS - totally plugging my Make A Bag blog - click my name to check it out! Thanks, Burban!

Christy B. said...

If you don't already have reusable produce bags you don't need to buy any - you don't even need to use them!

The produce will make it home fine.

For grocery bags if you are looking to find something, I would suggest market baskets. I got mine at a local organic farm. Here's One. One like this holds A LOT!

Stephanie said...

I have a question about using only reusable bags. We use plastic grocery bags for trash bags, and especially for scooping cat litter into. Is there any substitute for this use of plastic bags so I can stop using them? Otherwise, we're going keep using plastic bags when we need them and bring in reusable bags when we don't.

Joan said...

I ended up buying them at the grocery store. The reusable ones hold more which is nice. At first I felt like a dork too but now so many people are using them especially Saturdays at the farmer's market.

Christy B. said...

Stephanie - do you "need" a trash bag? I started just dumping the trash into the trash can and taking the entire can to the trash. I hose out the container if it gets too smelly, add a little baking soda when you are cleaning and when it's dry a little sprinkling in the bottom helps keep it fresh too!

You can also scoop litter into a bio-plastic bag. I your home is anything like mine, you do end up with plastic bags from other packaging that you could save and use. Anything that was destined for the trash anyway - chip bags, cookie bags, take out food containers that all could be used.

organicneedle said...

The produce bags, mine or any others, can also be used for bulk foods, which I am sure will eventually make it onto Burban's green steps at some point, like pasta, rice, cereal, etc.

Tammi said...

I take my cloth bags everywhere with me. I keep one in my purse for those "I might just buy something" trips. :)

I think I embarrass my husband just a little bit though...

Anonymous said...

Reading FPF inspired me to make a set of cloth produce bags this spring. They have been more than worth the time spent hand-sewing in front of the tv/radio (I'll learn to use a sewing machine someday...)

It still surprises me how many positive comments I get about them from people in general, almost every time I use the bags. It would be nice if there was a way to find out if any of the people who ask about them follow up and start reusing bags.


Anonymous said...

Hello Everyone ~ I love it when I find people talking about "re-using". I have my own set as well. I did try the grocers bags - but there were quite thin and didn't hold their shape at all. I have a great set of greensak bags - we did a fundraiser for our school with them - and they are great. I love supporting the fundraisers or local non-profits that are selling the bags. They are a bit more expensive, but the profits clean up our trash or lakes etc..

Stay green!

Sarah in Indiana said...

I've been bringing my own bags to the grocery store consistently for a long time now, but I'm still struggling to remember to bring them when I do other shopping. I think it's harder to remember because I do other shopping so rarely. I've gotten good about refusing to take the bags and just carry the item with me, though.

Produce bags I just skip, too. Now I'm getting most of my produce from the CSA, anyway.

I get a mix of reactions with the bags. At my neighborhood grocery store, they seem to find it odd. Lately when I refuse the bags at other stores they have taken it well, and when I ran in to a friend at Trader Joe's one day she was impressed, and said she never remembered to bring her bags. (I told her I try to keep them in my car)

Burbanmom said...

OK, Leslie... after thinking about it ALL AFTERNOON (good Lord, will someone find me a life, PLEASE), I've come up with a good attention-grabber for the bag boy. The next time he attempts to toss out your gently used plastic bags just say:

"Hey buddy, just because a sac's a little wrinkly, doesn't mean it can't be useful. ::wink:: Am I right?!?!"

And yes, I'll continue to ponder this one all night until I come up with something better.

Burbanmom said...

OK, Leslie... after thinking about it ALL AFTERNOON (good Lord, will someone find me a life, PLEASE), I've come up with a good attention-grabber for the bag boy. The next time he attempts to toss out your gently used plastic bags just say:

"Hey buddy, just because a sac's a little wrinkly, doesn't mean it can't be useful. ::wink:: Am I right?!?!"

And yes, I'll continue to ponder this one all night until I come up with something better.

Heather @ SGF said...

Ooh! I like the fundraiser idea. I would totally buy reusable bags if some kids started selling them for school!

Robj98168 said...

Did I start this super trend? Of course I did. not

I thought I started the trend! At least I thought I started the trend of manly men carrying their canvas bags into stores around here!
LOL I have to give credit to Trader Joes around here for making it chic to use your own bag- If you forget you feel likr you will be shunned. (They don't- they happily give you a paper bag)
But it is the aura of bagdom. Hasn't caught on too much in safe(use our plastic)way. The funniest place I take them to is the farmers market of all things! The strawberry lady looks almost sick when I tell her I don't need a plastic bag, i brought my own. She actually argues with me."The bag is dirty and unsanitary" she says."I can deal with it!"I say. "The berries might stain the bag!",she protests. I just look at her and tell her I can wash the bag. But, she carries on, "What will I do with all these nice pristine unstained plastic bags?" After I mutter a few suggestions as to what she can do with her plastic bags, she agrees to use my stained dirty unsanitary canvass one.

Burbanmom said...


Wow, of all the places to get hassled, the Farmer's Market is the LAST place I would expect!

I do love the old biddies that argue with you about it though.

Her: "Are you SURE you don't want a bag?"
Me: "yes, I'm sure"
Her: "It's no trouble you know"
Me: "no thanks, I don't need it"
Her: "well here, I'll just tuck it inside your bag, in case you change your mind"
Me: "Um...thank you, old biddy"

WTF? Jesus, Old Biddy, Haven't you ever heard of "No Means No!"!?!?!?

Anonymous said...

I have canvas bags from 20 years ago - there was a paperbag shortage here in Michigan (does anyone else remember that?) Lost track of them for awhile, but started using them again 3-4 years ago. I love them, but often the cashiers get annoyed because they don't fit on the bagging carousels the grocery store installed a few years back

The Purloined Letter said...

Thanks! So many people take reusable bags to the grocery store now that clerks usually know the drill--but anywhere else, it still seems to be unusual. Great post.

leslie said...

Somebody...please...find Burbanmom a life, or I am going to get punched by a bag boy!

Srsly, the last two times they have been bag 'girls', and I am at a loss... what shall Burbanmom come up with for me to say to them?

(And if you keep insulting me by calling me an old bag, Erin, I may never come back here :))

Lisa Sharp said...

I love reusable shopping bags, I have a bit of a problem because I can't seem to stop wanting to buy them lol. I won a super cute bag (you can see it on my blog) and a produce bag. It was my first produce bag and I loved it so I got two more. They are awesome.