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    « 97. Spring Fever Continued | Main | 99. Bottles of Beer on the Wall »

    Tuesday, April 08, 2008


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    Huh. That's too bad that your supermarkets don't offer reusable bags - here in Toronto, it's becoming a HUGE thing for grocery stores (and other stores) to sell bags by the cash registers for cheap. Loblaws (big chain) sells sturdy, canvas bags made from post-consumer recycled plastic (you can see it here) for something like $1 or $2. And the grocery stores give you a bag rebate (couple cents) for using your own bags.
    I'm really glad to see the whole reusable tote thing really coming into vogue - I see tons of people carrying these types of reusable bags just as their "stuff" bags. At the very least, the trend of pushing reusable bags gets people thinking about how many plastic bags they're consuming.


    Whole Foods has enormous bins where you are encouraged to recycle your plastic bags. (I have an ambivalent relationship with those because grocery bags make really good kitty litter bags, even though they're not biodegradeable and therefore wicked.)


    Isn't there a recycling centre that would take all those plastic bags?

    Our local Co-op store takes used plastic bags for reuse by people who have forgotten their bags, or prefer to reuse than buy new plastic bags.

    Most of our grocery stores are selling very cheap bags (.99 - 1.99). They are not indestructible but they last quite a while. I use them for groceries and library books. The libraries here are phasing out plastic bags as well.

    What I would like are some very light reusable bags for produce.


    I'm thirding that question regarding recycling plastic bags--there's got to be some place in VT that accepts them and sends them off to be turned into plastic lumber or somesuch. Anyway, I put my bags right behind the front door (or hang them off the front doorknob) after I've emptied them so I remember to toss them back into the car. Otherwise I also find myself at a store going, "Oh shit--I did it again!)

    Bethany--Go to They've got them. (Norma put a link in above.) They're a great company--were voted #1 by members of Co-Op America this year. I've ordered from them.

    Knitters--You can knit yourself up a string bag lickety split. I've whipped out several now (size 13 needles). My favorite pattern is the one by Oat Couture, but there are several free ones on the internet.


    $10-$20? Per BAG? That's crazy talk!

    I bought my bags from Safeway. They are sturdy, large, have straps long enough to go over your shoulder (or not), and made of recycled materials. Bonus: they are black, which is way cooler. They cost $1 per bag at the Safeway stores here.

    Do you have Safeway stores up in the frozen northeast? If not, let me know and I will mail you some. Serious.

    I find that "3" is the magic number. As in, take the number of bags you use per trip (you will use fewer of the reusable bags than the plastic bags, because they can fit more in the bag). Multiply that number by 3. That is the number of bags you need to purchase, in order to ensure that you always have enough in the car.

    toni in florida

    The grocery-store chain Publix has bins in front of every store for recycling plastic shopping bags. I don't know how far the chain reaches, perhaps not to your area, but surely there's another chain that doest the same thing near you. Good luck!

    Kathy in San Jose

    Look for the ChicoBags at the ReusableBags website. They're the ones I use because they're small enough to toss into my purse - even 2 or 3 of them sometimes. And you can fit a lot into just one bag! I even bought them as stocking stuffers for the adults in my family last Christmas. Heck, I think I have a couple extra if you want me to send you one!

    Kathy in San Jose

    Meant to add: bring in the bags from the car, unload them, stuff the ChicoBags into their attached pouch, throw them back in the purse. It didn't take long for the process to become a habit.

    Cindy, aka Maxfun

    Here in Oregon, you can take used plastic bags back to most every grocery store, where they have a bin for recycling them. I will admit to using them a kitty litter bags, though! Most stores still offer the option of paper or plastic, so choosing paper when I forget to bring in my assortment of reusable bags is the next best thing. Fred Meyer (aka, Kroegers), Safeway, Whole Foods, New Seasons, Albertsons, Trader Joes -- all offer reusable bags at $3.99 each or less (usually the higher priced ones are insulated for keeping cold things cold if you're not headed directly home).

    I agree, though, that the hardest part of the whole thing is remembering to take the darned things into the store! I try to remember to at least put them back in my car so that they're availble, but I still find myself halfway through my shopping before I realize that I forgot to bring them into the store with me. Doh!


    I have about 20 reusable bags of varying shapes and sizes, and I mostly keep them in a sack in my car. When I bring groceries home in them, there's a spot on a shelf right by the door where the bags go when that they can be grabbed easily next time I'm headed out to the car.

    I still forget now and then, but at least I'm doing my best and don't beat myself up about it when I mess up.



    I bought the eco-friendly bags from Trader Joes and also from Whole Foods. I always forget them in the car when I shop, though. Someday soon the bigger plan will all come together.

    Knit. Plastic. Knit. Plastic. Knit. Plastic.

    Just think how much you'll scare the bejezuz out of your hubby when he comes home and finds you've knit up his plastic collection? That would be worth it. ; o


    Whole Foods has the greatest bags for a dollah! That's right! 100 cents! Do you have one of them there? Want me to send you some?

    Lee Ann

    The underside of my kitchen sink looks like that. And sometimes the kitchen floor looks like that too. But that's only if someone opens the door under the kitchen sink BEFORE hearing "WAIT!!!! Watch out for the bags!!!!"

    You're lucky. At least you know how to spell &uomhsa.


    I have not seen cheap bags for sale here in Oklahoma city, although most places seem to have something for sale near the checkout in the $8.00 range. The ChicoBag is looking good, though. I'm bookmarking it for Christmas gifts.


    I actually have 4 of those bags from Walmart. It seems rather counterproductive to buy something environmentally healthy from Walmart but there it is. I also have 2 more reusable bags from the local grocery store and they give us a .02 credit for every reusable bag we use when we shop. Dale is really good about remembering to bring them in when we shop together. When I go alone, though, I hardly ever remember.


    Like a previous commenter, I shop mainly at Loblaws (in Ottawa) and I've purchased many of their reusable bags. Problem is, I still forget to take them with me to the grocery store. I, too, am &uomhsa


    Delurking to second the comment on Whole Foods bags (although they're a bit small). I use an assortment of lightweight tote bags for my grocery shopping, most of which were trade show "gimmes." The plastic bags that make it in to my house are either used as trash bags or sent to a local daycare for diaper duty. Not an ecologically perfect solution, but it keeps both me and the daycare from buying plastic trash bags, dejunks my kitchen closet, and ensures that the bags won't be blowing around the landfill.

    Maybe one day US stores will adopt the philosophy that I saw in German grocery stores many years ago. You had to pay for each plastic bag you used, but if you brought your own bags, no charge. And yes, there were well-made, inexpensive (and cute) bags by each checkout register.


    You hit a sore spot with me. Price Chopper sells great bags, big nice long straps for .99 and they deduct .03 off your order for each bag you use. Now of course you have to remember to actually TAKE the bags which I do occasionally forget. Also if you look at the store I'll bet they have big bins to put plastic bags that you want to recycle. Good Luck!


    I want a T-shirt that says "&uomhsa & proud of it". Or hey, maybe it would be nice printed on reusable bags!

    Kate/Massachusetts gotta' take control of those bags! Do you have a recycling center in your area that you can call to find a place to recycle them? Or, make a few trips to Massachusetts --- many groceries recycle; I know Whole Foods has bins for plastic bags --- actually, now that I think of it, my local Whole Foods no longer offers plastic bags as a packaging alternative/it's cloth or paper only!


    Our store sells bags for .99 and to make sure I have them with me I leave them on the front seat of the car so I can see them. It's become a habit to use takes only a few trips before you ingrain your brain to pick them up and I no longer bring home the plastic. If I can do it so can you. I'm not spending my knitting time making bags...but they are cute.


    Our local grocery store sells sturdy, re-usable shopping bags for only $1 each. The trick is remembering to use them. I keep them stored in my car so I always have them.


    Most of the stores in Quebec offer bags for 99 cents , and if you take your own bag when you shop you get 5 cents bac k . cool eh


    My local grocery store has sold heavy-duty canvas bags ($3.99) for YEARS and give a 5-cent rebate per bag each time they're used. Over the years, I have used them for so much more than just groceries. Lately, they've offered a new 99-cent model (same rebate deal) that is like the Wal-mart one you linked to -- Target has 'em, too, and they're cuter. I made a few mesh bags last year and, while I like the idea of them, I prefer something sturdier and with more structure.


    Over a decade ago I bought some canvas bags and have used them to a fare thee well, but seriously, some of the looks I received in 'some' stores... then there was the young woman who tried to scan them and couldn't figure out wtf they were...sigh... I've also made some and should make more but... I've seen those bags at walmart, they do exist. now why oh why did they have to put their name on them...ok, I know that answer but still.... I wait until I have several plastic bags,(accumulation from when I'm &uomhsa and forget my cloth bags) then take them to the recycle bin. Good luck with the Plan, you can do it.


    Yup, we have them up here in Canada. You can get them at all the major grocery stores (Safeway, Superstore, Sobeys, etc.) for fairly cheap, between $1-3, and they're quite big. The ones from Superstore and Sobeys are even pretty! :) And they're all made from recycled plastic bags.

    Speaking of recycling though, do none of your grocery stores carry recycling containers for your bags? I'm not sure if Safeway still does up here, but it used to. You brought in your bags and stuffed them into the box, and they recycled them. We store the bags we have to get sometimes under out sink and use them as bathroom and kitchen trash bags. At least they're getting reused!


    I LOVE my Stop N' Shop reusable shopping bags: $0.99 a pieces and 2 years and 100s of grocery trips, they are doing well. Also, we love our Trader Joe bags too... we even have 2 freezer pack ones--- they keep tofutsies nice and cold for the ride home.

    (I can send you some if you like--- say the word!)


    I shop at the same chain as Laura. Some of their new stores don't provide ANY bags whatsoever, not even a sticker for a large item. You can buy their reuseable ones, as she mentioned or their bins (3 of which fit into their tiered grocery carts) You can get handles for them as well($1). I prefer the bins and have no problem remembering to put those in the car.
    The trick with the bags is to buy more than you need so some of them are always left in the car (As opposed to being left in the kitchen from your last shopping trip unload)
    Btw, I find those string bags rip.


    Trader Joe's has cheap reusable bags, too, but there aren't any of those near you. You could, however, have pledged to VPR in the last fund drive--they had a set of reusable bags as one of the gifts. Really, though, I second the recommendation for Chico bags if you're going to buy something that's not all canvas. I don't usually bother to stuff mine in its pocket, but it's nearly always in my bag. (I find it fits in the empty space that way, rather than being another firm object around which there are gaps.)


    wow.. I would definitely check to see if there are recycling bins for bags at any of your local stores..I keep two knit bat holders full of the plastic bags and I have to admit the rest I throw away..
    I should recycle them.
    Hey. you could always buy a futon, and a futon mattress cover and then stuff it with the bags!! cheaper than buying the mattress!


    Here, amongst the manicured acres of bucolic Dutchess County, NY, there are all manner of reusable bags available and some of them are actually quite attractively designed. When you next come to Rheinbeck you can see for yourself.


    Wegmans and Giant here in the Northern VA area have very nice reuseable bags for $.99. The Wegmans bag is especially roomy. You can also bring your plastic bags back to Wegmans or Giant. They have recycle bins out front. But, I am not sure what they do with them. I have a huge concern with those dry cleaning bags. I don't know what to do with them! Too bad we can't use them for throw pillow stuffing.

    Mary K. in Rockport

    Here (in Rockport, MA) the IGA has started selling bags for $.99 - they're green, too, and both roomier and sturdier than plastic or paper. Of course, I almost always forget to bring them with me to the market. We might actually encounter a plastic bag "shortage" around the house soon - hard to believe!


    That little counter on the bag-site is a bit scary...and they may not have even considered what's at your house!

    Elizabeth D

    I've been using my own shopping bags for years (with frequent time-outs for forgetfulness). As recently as last fall, checkers in certain supermarkets were still giving me dirty looks and muttering under their breath. Now, all of a sudden, it is The Thing to Do and you get chastised if you forget! Cracks me up. Norma, all of the major grocery chains around here (Philadelphia area) have drop boxes out front for your plastic bags, and they have been doing that for several years. And Pennsylvania is not exactly cutting-edge when it comes to environmental issues. Surely Hannaford's does the same? My favorite canvas bags were bought in Maine, about 15 years ago, from Shop & Save, which I think (may be wrong) is now a Hannaford company.


    The problem with the Costco bags is that they are so big. You can load more into them than you can lift.

    Until you find a recycling place, put your hubby to work. Make him lay a plastic bag flat, smooth out all the air, and roll it up tightly from the bottom. Overlap the last four inches with a second bag and continue rolling tightly untill the whole fluffy pile has been transformed into a tidy little log. It surprising how little space they actually take up when neatly rolled. I wonder if this is what they make acrylic yarn from?


    Our local grocery store chain (bless them) has reusable and very sturdy bags for $1 ($1.50 for insulated, zip closed ones) right at the front of their stores in a nice, bright green (I love green). They're strong and hold about 2.5 grocery bags worth of food. If you ever see a "Mr. Z's" or "Weis" grocery store (should you be in the North East PA area for some reason) I highly recommend them. Heck, I'll mail you some if you'll pay for postage! ;)


    I've been using the Acme Earth Totes for about 18 months. They ROCK. So sturdy and they hold so much stuff.


    So you can't remember to take the boxes or reusable bags with you? There's just too much other stuff rattlin' around in that brain of yours! uhhhh... I don't get it. What does &uomhsa mean?


    I love the Trader Joe's bags too. I got a really cool Target reusable bag with a magzine yesterday, which rolls up really tiny and fits in my handbag. I think soon most supermarkets (the chains, at least) will switch over to reusable bags. The pressure on them to do so is too great to ignore.

    Cardboard in the garden? I must try that.


    I love my Wegmans bags. I bought 5 at 99 cents each and rarely ever need more than that. You can pack a ton of food in each and they're very sturdy. We leave ours in the car and try to take them in wherever we shop, even if it's Target or WalMart.

    I have seen people online that have cut their plastic bags into strips and knit them into reusable bags. I just never had that much ambition - especially when the bags I bought for $4.95 have been doing just fine for over a year now.


    My local grocery stores have a big bin right by the entrance for people to return used shopping bags. My locals Shaws also sells a reusable bag for about a dollar to reduce the number of plastic bags.

    Christine B. in Quebec

    Being from Europe (but living in Quebec now) I was used already to bringing my own grocery bags to the store even when it was bothering the checkers (I know what you mean, Elizabeth D!). I also used to start putting my groceries into the bag as we don't have the service of checkers in Switzerland.
    Now I'm hunting down the nicest sturdy reused plastic bag which becomes a pleasure all by itself (you know, discreetly following people with nice bag to see where they come from, finding that special store, becoming a member in a library because they have those beautiful bags).
    But anyway, just wanted to tell you (especially Mary K. in Rockport) that one fine weekend we hit the plastic bag shortage in my house, just when I had to had one for the cat litter. Then I started using those 1-gallon bags the milk comes in or the bags from toaster bread, sometimes also those really thin bags you use for putting your vegetables in at the market (though they can only hold very little poop and almost no sand as I found out unpleasantly).
    I love it that people now are so aware of that plastic litter and do their part.


    Have you seen the new Noni pattern for felted grocery bags which self insulate? (Green Earth Grocery Bag no. 407). Stylish and practical.


    Have you heard about the ironing layers of plastic bags together? On craftster ( I think) they have a tutorial on it. You get a sturdy "fabric". Some people are making reusable bags out of them and selling them. You could payback the hubby and sew him a vest out of them. :D


    Our grocery store has a bin that recycles used plastic bags. However I'm not really sure what happens to them once they are carted away. Maybe taken to the landfill for all I know. But at least I'm trying. I NEVER remember to bring canvas bags with me (and I have a lot of them, but they are mostly filled with projects) because they never seem big enough for the amt of groceries I buy.

    What ever happened to the paper bag??


    Your husband may be my long lost soul mate.


    I'm not a huge "go green" person but I bought a few of the bags ($.99 at Price Chopper!) because I get so sick of the @*#^ baggers putting 1-2 items in each plastic bag. Oddly, when presented one of the reuseable bags they eagerly pack as much as possible into it like its some sort of puzzle.

    Marcia Cooke

    It won't be long before your local supermarket will have a drop-off box for the plastic bags, so that will solve that problem! You could make tote bags with your sewing machine, ya know, if you don't feel like knitting, but I must say, those knitted bags are surprisingly sturdy. My favorite reusable bag is one we got on vacation in Utah: it says "Real Dirt Bag" on the front and is dyed with the red dirt of Moab!


    When Whole Paycheck stopped offering plastic bags, I got off my ass and (mostly) remember to bring my reusable bags. They are cheap down here. Come down and play, and we'll hook you up.

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