Thursday, March 18, 2010

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love My Reusable Bag (With kitties)

My cat Sherman may make a good case for disposable bags, but I have to speak to the contrary. Even though paper bags ARE slightly better, (at least they were in the past) b/c they're more reusable (hamster cages)/recyclable than plastic (though now if you take your bags to the grocery store they will supposedly "recycle" them for you. There will be a whole other rant about this later...).

But what's even better than paper bags? Canvas bags! These bags can be reused time after time after time. The ones you buy from stores are usually fairly large and sturdy and most have a plastic bottom(though, you can really get any type of cloth bag which means that they can be any size you desire). Also, they are cheap - usually $0.99 or less. I got a really cute one on sale at Pier 1 for $0.69! SO they can also be stylish (for those of you who are concerned with such stuff) and look MUCH better than those white, gray and brown crinkly plastic ones. The bag on the bottom right, in particular, was apparently designed for Whole Foods by Sheryl Crow: pop-singer extraordinaire. Or whatever. They also fold up relatively small. Whole Foods sells an amazing one - the bag w/in a bag. I got one of these recently and LOVE IT! It was slightly more expensive at about $3.99 but has miraculously lessened my no-bag-carrying woes! It has really paid for itself and more in lack of stress. Mine is similar to the bottom left bag, but has one crucial improvement: It's made of more tent-like material rather than canvas and its little carry sack is attached right to it so that it just folds into itself when you're done using it. It also has a draw-string on the carry sack and a mini caribener so you can clip it onto your belt loop if you want to look *really* cool. Canvas bags in general are also just plain useful for schlepping stuff to and fro. GO CANVAS!

EDIT: Also, some stores give you a discount like $0.10 total or per bag on your purchase if you use canvas. At Whole Foods I think you can also donated that bag credit to their charity du jour. (Thanks Kirin).

Ok, now you're probably thinking "OK, I got the bags - now how the HECK do I remember to use them?" Well, it's going to take some practice but I know you can do it! What I do is keep them all in the trunk of my car at all times and when I take them home w/ groceries, I make sure to put them someplace really obnoxious (like right in the walk way) to help me bring them back out when I make my next trip to my car. Then you'll always have them when you decide to do that spur-of-the-moment shopping trip after work. Also, if you have lots, it'll even the odds of having one in your car EVEN IF you've left some at home.

"Well that's all well and good" you say, "But what if I go in only planning to buy 1 thing but end up with 5 or 10?" If you're a woman or a man who has a man-purse affinity (or if you carry a backpack, satchel, baby backpack, briefcase whatever), you can make the tiny Whole Foods bag a permanent fixture in your bag b/c it's really light and very squishable. I have come to depend on my squishy little bag. Like today, for example, I pulled out ALL the contents of my purse at the checkout count in Whole Foods to find my bag for my items. And as it turned out, I had forgotten it and had to use a paper bag anyway. D'OH! OH well, nobody's perfect!

"But you're assuming that everyone is so together that they always remember their bags." No, I'm not assuming that at all. Actually, I'm assuming that since you're reading this blog, you are dedicated enough to give this a try. There has been many a time when I've grabbed a cart-full of groceries and then realized: "CRAP! My bags are in the car!" So what did I do? I told the lady that I was going to park my cart by her aisle to run out and get my bags. I've done this in the rain, snow, sleet, 10pm, etc. You just have to have enough discipline to do it. There have also been times where I just plain forgot a bag and had to hand carry out the stuff I bought.This is why big purses are GREAT!

I've also been that obnoxious customer who's told the cashier AFTER they've bagged my stuff "OH, I brought my own". As long as you apologize sincerely they shouldn't be jerks to you. And if they are, well, that's their deal I guess. (ok, only 1 or 2 bags. If I forget and get 10 bags worth of groceries I'll take the hurt not the nice cashier). The key to all of this is that you really just have to do it. Spend the extra $1-$4 and recognize the guilt you get when you forget them. And you WILL forget. Lots. Especially at first (I still do). But just keep at it and eventually it'll become (almost) second nature. And if you don't use reusable bags? Then you're a bad person...ok, not really. But if you make yourself feel bad for not doing it, then don't not do it!.... And if you don't feel bad then...why are you still reading?

And as for Shermie, well, these bags don't make as satisfying of a crackling sound, but they are still big and dark and fun to crawl into. We all win.

This Video is from Lucrezia and it's brilliant:


  1. How to remember: play this in your car, non-stop.


  2.'s got no pop.