Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Reusable Shopping Bags

I started writing a response to Dirty Diaper Laundry's rant post about attitudes towards reusable shopping bags, but I had enough to say to do an entire post...plus I wanted to share my experiences with my readers as well.

We started using reusable bags for grocery shopping back when it wasn't quite so posh.  We're easily going on 3 years of reusable grocery bags.  We've only thrown out one of our reusable bags when it mysteriously got a cut straight down the side (looked like from scissors or something).  They say each reusable bag=4 plastic bags per visit.  We usually use 4-5 reusable bags for a full shopping trip, each week.  So let's do some math... 4 plastic bags per reusable *4 reusable bags per trip *52 trips a year *3 years = 2496 bags!!  Throw in a few extra for trips that required 5 bags and smaller runs...we've saved over 2,500 plastic bags!!  *pats self on back* lol  I didn't realize how many we'd skipped bringing home over time.

Our local grocery stores have been really good about using our reusable shopping bags without batting an eye.  They often have designs on their bags to promote buying them.  My favorite is from a couple of springs ago...a pretty blue with a couple of green vines and not-too-girly flowers.  Here's our method of using them:

  • unload groceries
  • stuff all bags into one (always pick the prettiest bag as the one that gets stuffed)
  • place pretty, stuffed bag on door handle...the one I have to touch to go out to the car
  • take bags to car the next time I go out
  • bags chill in car until next shopping trip
  • grab bags at store (handy "don't forget me" signs at our store helped at first)
  • put bags at the front of the cart
  • *TRY* not to bury bags while grocery shopping
  • place bags on conveyor belt first...before unloading any groceries (this step has eliminated them asking "paper or plastic" and/or creates a laugh/smile when they ask out of habit while holding the reusable bags)
  • take bags home and unload.....
So far most places have been very receptive to using the bags.  Our grocery store, Publix, really encourages the use and we've heard rumors that they're going to start charging for plastic bags.  Target offers $0.05 for each reusable bag you use :)  Most cashier's are liberal with that, too.  We bought a plastic bin (for storage) and just had the cashier load it up instead of using bags and she scanned the reusable bag coupon a bunch of times.  I won an Envirosax from Sacred Bee and took it to Target.  The cashier and I laughed as she stuffed it with $90 worth of stuff (I only paid $60...YAY coupons!).  She took a few bags worth off for us, too.

The one negative experience we've had came at Wal-mart a couple of years ago.  One disgruntled employee went on a rant about how the reusable bag thing would never catch on and it was stupid and just like some movement in the 70s that never took off and...seriously??  Just bag our stuff and shut up!  You don't get paid to insult your customers!!  But that was one ridiculous bad experience in 3 years.

I'm trying to be better about taking bags to the mall or other shopping places (aside from Target and Publix).  I'd say it's getting closer to 75% success rate of taking bags to other stores.  I keep them all in the car...various sizes and shapes.  I usually state I have a bag when they're ringing me up, or say I don't need a bag if I'm going to toss it in the diaper bag or stroller or whatever.  If they look at me like I have 3 heads I make a joke.  I usually make fun of myself, "yeah, I'm trying to be green" and kind of roll my eyes at myself.  That usually gets them to laugh and turns the conversation to a positive light even if they weren't positive about it before.

So that's my story...  Apparently we're in a forward area that is more accepting of reusable bags.  What's your story?  Don't forget to head over to Dirty Diaper Laundry and give Kim some love :)


Mama Mandolin said...

Here in So Cal, it's pretty much a norm to have reusable bags. We get so many cents off at our grocery store for having them and when I'm out with the boys in the stroller I don't usually use a bag and just put stuff in the stroller. I've never gotten any looks or anybody even thinking twice. Actually sometimes they ask me if I even need a bag.

A couple cities here have actually banned the use of plastic bags and I'm not sure but they either had a vote recently or will vote to ban them all over the state.

Doesn't bother me!

Karen said...

Some places around here will give you a discount if you use reusable bags.

What I love about my reusable bags: Less trips to the car to unload! It's easy to throw a reusable bag over my shoulders, and then pick up Little Guy in one hand and another bag in the other.

BugginWord said...

Now on to the next hurdle! I have a hell of a time convincing fast food restaurants and coffee shops to put my beverage in my handy dandy glass water bottle instead of their plastic disposable glasses. So far Starbucks is game, but the others won't go for it.