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Bring Your Own Shopping Bags

Paper or Plastic? The answer to that perplexing question you hear every time you hit the grocery store...Neither. Both are roughly equal in pros and cons. So the next time you see me in Barney’s schlepping all my gifts in canvas Whole Foods bags you’ll know why. I have been using cloth bags at the grocery store for a couple of years now but when I learned that polar ice caps are melting at alarming rates I decided that it was not enough and now they go everywhere with me. I cannot tell you how much less waste is coming into my house. Okay, so I get some weird looks but more and more people ask me why and they tell me they may start doing the same thing.

Some of the perks of bringing your own bags besides helping save trees and lesson the burden of plastic in landfills include:

  • Cash incentives. Some grocery stores offer a nickel for every bag you bring and use. Okay, not huge amounts but it's a start. (In Europe they actually charge the customer 17 cents per bag that they use). I wish they would start doing that here. Trader Joe’s will enter you into a for a $25 gift card at most store locations!
  • Packing up the bags with more items saves space in your trunk.
  • Being a great example to others and inspiring others.
  • A good conscience.
  • Reusing bags that may have been headed for the garbage (even Target has “10 things to do with your Target bag” printed on their plastic bags) makes less waste.

Here’s how you start:

Keep 5-10 bags in the trunk of your car. At first you might forget but over time you will begin to bring them everywhere with you.

Other ways to help:

  • Use and reuse zip lock bags. I wash mine.
  • Buy lunch boxes or re-usable lunch bags from www.reusablebags.com instead of paper bags. (They also have a great selection of shopping bag starter sets). And they come in a variety of cute shapes and styles.
  • Start becoming aware about the trash that is coming in and out of your home. How can you start to minimize it? Have fun and get creative.