Author Topic: Reusable grocery bag help!  (Read 2741 times)

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Sebastienne

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Reusable grocery bag help!
« on: March 11, 2013, 03:00:19 AM »
This may come off as a ridculous topic, but I'd love any hints and advice.

Our city recently banned plastic grocery bags. I understand and support the rationale behind the ban, but I also come from a household where we tend to reuse shopping bags, whether for small household trash cans, cat litter disposal, or bringing lunch to work. This means that we don't have many spare grocery bags, but also haven't really stocked up on reusable bags.

We've been out of town for a few weeks, so I just did my first major shopping trip post-bag-ban. I ended up buying 6 disposable bags for $150 worth of groceries, and I'm still working out how to juggle the no-bags-in-the-store situation.  So for those of you who have encountered this already:

* I'm assuming you keep a stack of reusable bags in the car. How do you know how many to take into the store with you? Do you just put them back in the car, or do you wash them intermittently?

* What do you do about the alternate uses of grocery bags, now that they're no longer free--particularly re: lining small trashcans?

I'm hung up, too, on how annoying it's going to be to go into a store to buy one or two things, and then I remember a few more things to buy...and I don't have a bag with me (my normal purse won't fit a full shopping bag), and I have to pay another dollar just so I can bring my stuff out of the store with me.

Advice would be helpful!

StarFaerie

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Re: Reusable grocery bag help!
« Reply #1 on: March 11, 2013, 03:28:32 AM »


* I'm assuming you keep a stack of reusable bags in the car. How do you know how many to take into the store with you? Do you just put them back in the car, or do you wash them intermittently?
I take them all in packed into 1 bag. I wash them if they get really mucky but they lose their stiffness when washed so I try to avoid it. They don't really get very dirty, except the cold stuff bag, which I wipe out every time. Often they break before they get yucky anyway.


* What do you do about the alternate uses of grocery bags, now that they're no longer free--particularly re: lining small trashcans?
I bought a really big trashcan for the kitchen and buy proper garbage bags. For other stuff, the local shop has biodegradeable shopping bags that I can buy for 10c each when I shop there (for milk and so on) and I use those. 

I'm hung up, too, on how annoying it's going to be to go into a store to buy one or two things, and then I remember a few more things to buy...and I don't have a bag with me (my normal purse won't fit a full shopping bag), and I have to pay another dollar just so I can bring my stuff out of the store with me.

Can I suggest getting a small foldable bag to take in with you? I was surprised how small some can fold up.

Advice would be helpful!

The big issue for me is leaving the bags in the car and then remembering when I get to the register and having to buy more. My car is getting full of the bags because although it's been a few years I still forget regularly.

The thing I love is the feeling when I am shopping in another state, realise I don't have my bags and they just start bagging. And then I remember that they don't have the ban. I get a little thrill every time as though I'm being bad.
« Last Edit: March 11, 2013, 03:30:25 AM by StarFaerie »

Craftyone

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Re: Reusable grocery bag help!
« Reply #2 on: March 11, 2013, 04:07:01 AM »
I moved from Western Australia where some stores were moving that way (but not many) to Canberra where it's the situation like yours.

I bought a fold up bag like this
Foldaway Shopping Bag
from a $2 type shop and keep it in my shoulder bag for incidental shopping.

While I was googling the above for a picture I came across this tutorial to make your own
Make your own foldaway shopping bag

For the main grocery shopping we keep some recyclable bags folded up in a cooler/insulated bag and take that into the shop.  We keep it in the kitchen as we don't take one particular car if we're going shopping (depends who wants to drive, what car has more fuel etc etc) and have just got in the habit of grabbing it when we go shopping.


Bijou

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Re: Reusable grocery bag help!
« Reply #3 on: March 11, 2013, 04:12:08 AM »
We keep them in the car and if you shop with a list you will know more or less how many you need to bring in with you.  We have all the bags stored in one of them so just can bring the whole thing into the store and you will have what you need.  As for small stuff, the stores here will give a small paper bag to you for free, but otherwise it is 10 cents to buy a regular sized paper grocery bag.  And if you bring your own in they give you a ten cent discount for each bag you provide.
I also miss the plastic bags for various uses around the house.  Also, any extras we had of those were recycled at the bin in the store.
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camlan

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Re: Reusable grocery bag help!
« Reply #4 on: March 11, 2013, 08:06:03 AM »
I use these bags: http://www.reuseit.com/store/reuseit-workhorse-original-bluesign-fabric-p-2391.html?slave_id=2393. A bit more expensive than the ones you buy in stores, but they are very sturdy and don't have any company logos on them. They are designed to fit the racks where the disposable bags go.

They fold up very small. I keep one in my purse all the time, for small random purchases. Then I have an LL Bean canvas tote which holds the rest. The tote stays in the car most of the time. I take it into the store with me, with all the reusable bags inside. The heavier food and drink goes into the tote because it is easier to carry. Then the other reusable bags get filled. If there are extra bags, they just get tossed back into the tote.

Once I'm home, I unpack the groceries, fold up all the bags, put them back in the tote and hang the tote on the doorknob of the front door, to remind me to take it back out to the car the next time I go. When I lived in a state that had returnable bottles, I kept the tote on a hook in the kitchen and put the empty bottles in it. Then I could grab the bottles and the shopping bags in one fell swoop.

As for plastic bags for the little things around the house, you can buy them. Or you can find a good friend who lives outside the city who has a huge stash of them because they aren't picked up with curbside recycling and she can never remember which stores recycle them. Such a friend might be willing to let you take many of her plastic bags home on a regular basis.
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Dazi

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Re: Reusable grocery bag help!
« Reply #5 on: March 11, 2013, 08:22:20 AM »
I have one really good insulated one and several regular ones.

I find it easiest to just take them all in with me.  Once I unload my groceries at home, I just fold them all back up, put them into the insulated bag, and pop them right back into my trunk.  I try to line one with a small trash can liner, so meats don't leak all over the place.  That saves me from having to wash them as frequently.  You can usually purchase small trash can liners (4 gallon or so) in a roll of 100+ for around a $1.00.

My DH is one who likes to take his lunch in a grocery bag, I much prefer my super insulated lunch box (I like that I can keep it at my desk. Much less risk of food thievery).  As it is, I can still get a couple plastic bags at no charge if I run out of space in my reusable ones since there isn't a ban here.
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Winterlight

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Re: Reusable grocery bag help!
« Reply #6 on: March 11, 2013, 08:27:05 AM »
For grocery shopping I normally carry 2 bags plus my pack. If I'm buying more than will fit in those two bags, I've got too much. Those kind don't need washed. I have a few cloth ones in different sizes that do get washed when needed for things like bookstores and clothing shops, and I usually just toss one in my pack when I'm going out for the day.
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veryfluffy

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Re: Reusable grocery bag help!
« Reply #7 on: March 11, 2013, 08:33:18 AM »

* I'm assuming you keep a stack of reusable bags in the car. How do you know how many to take into the store with you? Do you just put them back in the car, or do you wash them intermittently?

I have a whole collection of resusable bags, including plastic ones and fabric ones. I keep a bagful of bags in the car, and just grab the whole thing. Maybe I am a slattern, but I have never even though of washing the bags.

* What do you do about the alternate uses of grocery bags, now that they're no longer free--particularly re: lining small trashcans?
I buy rolls of smaller plastic bin liners. The "value" brands cost about 1p each. Since the disposable plastic shopping bags have little holes in them, these work a lot better anyway.

I'm hung up, too, on how annoying it's going to be to go into a store to buy one or two things, and then I remember a few more things to buy...and I don't have a bag with me (my normal purse won't fit a full shopping bag), and I have to pay another dollar just so I can bring my stuff out of the store with me.
It's just something you get used to. You can get a small string bag or lightweight foldable nylon one that takes barely any room.

I should add that where I live there is no ban or tax on plastic bags, but there is a strong cultural push to get people to use fewer. You just decide you are going to do it, and it doesn't take long to change your own behaviour and remember to carry a shopping bag with you.

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Luci

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Re: Reusable grocery bag help!
« Reply #8 on: March 11, 2013, 10:32:34 AM »
We don't have the ban yet, but I do try to take the reusable bags with me unless I am running out of wastebasket liners. I'm pretty anal, so when we have a big dinner, I use purchased plastic to line wastebaskets because it just looks better, so I do know they are available and cheap. I'm weird.

I store all of my reusable bags in another reusable on the shelf in the coat closet next to my purse, and I just take them all in with me and use what I need. We have 2 cars, and I don't like to run out to the car after unpacking the bags. Enough trips, already!

I line the bags on the checkout counter in front of what I want to go in that bag. Fresh produce go in washable bags, and fresh and processed meat go in washable, and the bags get washed when they look dirty or are smelly. I wipe out the other bags with a Clorox wipe every few weeks just because. I always wipe the cooler bag down because it gets smelly right away for some reason.

It doesn't take more than maybe 10 extra minutes a week to do all this, and unpacking the already sorted groceries is very easy and faster, and because I pack my cart in sections, it is easy to line up the checkout counter.

Sedorna

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Re: Reusable grocery bag help!
« Reply #9 on: March 11, 2013, 10:36:06 AM »
Another thing you might want to try are wine bags, which are bags divided into sections in order to hold bottles of wine. They are really good for things like spaghetti sauce and other things in glass jars that you might not want banging against each other.

jaxsue

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Re: Reusable grocery bag help!
« Reply #10 on: March 11, 2013, 11:02:52 AM »
I'm wondering if we'll have to guard our reusable grocery bags while we shop. They might become the "new" thing to steal!

Coralreef

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Re: Reusable grocery bag help!
« Reply #11 on: March 11, 2013, 11:34:56 AM »
I keep mine in the car.  I even have different sizes, depending on where I'm shopping.  You can get larger nylon bags that scrunch up really small, about the size of a smallish orange, into a little bag.  Those can easily be carried in a purse.  Or if you fold carefully to get it flat, into a back pocket. 

I'm wondering if we'll have to guard our reusable grocery bags while we shop. They might become the "new" thing to steal!

At one point, everyone has the same bags, so no, I don't watch over them and I've never had one stolen.

 
Another thing you might want to try are wine bags, which are bags divided into sections in order to hold bottles of wine. They are really good for things like spaghetti sauce and other things in glass jars that you might not want banging against each other.

I have several of those, they are indeed great for glass items.  Since they are smaller than my regular grocery bags, even with four items inside, they are not overly heavy.

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2littlemonkeys

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Re: Reusable grocery bag help!
« Reply #12 on: March 11, 2013, 12:13:01 PM »
We don't have the ban yet but we do shop Aldi a lot, which doesn't automatically give out bags.  You bring your own or purchase one from them.  They also let you use the stock boxes for large items and times when you weren't planning to stop but did.

When we go to the store, we just remember to grab the bags and take them with us.  We store them in the same spot, all nested in the largest bag.   And I have a couple of nylon bags that fold up really small that I keep in my purse for the on-the-fly grocery trips.

For the other uses of plastic bags, I know you can buy a pack of small bags for that.  I see them a lot in the baby and pet sections of stores (for diapers and pet waste).  But I use the store ones for so much stuff, it would be a huge adjustment to not have them readily available.

Cz. Burrito

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Re: Reusable grocery bag help!
« Reply #13 on: March 11, 2013, 12:15:32 PM »
I have these bags: http://www.reuseit.com/store/reuseit-workhorse-original-bluesign-fabric-p-2391.html?slave_id=2393

A set of four. I've had them for about 6 years and I love them.  They fold up into the little attached pouch and hardly take up any room at all in your purse so you can always have them with you.  They're light, but very strong.  They're the same dimensions as grocery store plastic bags, but hold at least three times as much weight, so I can fit more stuff in fewer bags.

[edit] I see these were already recommended above.  But really.  They deserve another recommendation.   ;D
« Last Edit: March 11, 2013, 12:19:02 PM by Cz. Burrito »

Outdoor Girl

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Re: Reusable grocery bag help!
« Reply #14 on: March 11, 2013, 12:21:25 PM »
I've carried my own bags for years.  Some stores that didn't charge for their plastic bags would give you a 5 cent rebate if you used your own.  Now, they all charge.

I prefer cloth ones for groceries - they are more easily washable - and I wash them everytime I buy meat or if they are getting visibly dirty.  For stores other than grocery stores, I'll use the plasticised ones that need to be wiped out.  I'm not as concerned about contamination with those, and the stuff that goes in them, as I am with my grocery ones.

I keep a bunch of bags in the car.  If I forget them in the car, I'll take my groceries out loose in the cart and pack them into the bags at the car.  I also have a little fold up one that I keep in my purse all the time.  It's about the size of a maxipad, all folded up, so it doesn't take much room.

I like the idea of using a wine bag for glass items.  I have one of those so I'll have to remember to take it the next time I might be buying bottles of stuff.

I'm an absolute pack rat so I still have bags kicking around for my kitchen garbage.  Once I don't, I'll use 'kitchen catcher' sized bags for garbage.  I only use one bag a week, at most, so I don't worry about it too much.
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