More reasons to purge disposable plastic bags and try reusable bags

Whole Foods has announced it will stop using disposable plastic bags by Earth Day. This decision came on the heals of China banning production of these bags in an effort to curb litter for the 2008 Summer Olympics and to (allegedly) benefit the environment. Ikea made a switch away from disposable plastic bags in March of last year, and Costco has never used them.

The city of San Francisco also has banned the use of these bags, and, according to the Los Angeles Times, Bakersfield, Boston, and Phoenix are considering similar bans.

We’ve talked in the past about how plastic bags from grocery stores shouldn’t become clutter in your home in our post Reusable shopping bags. Now seems like an appropriate time to bring up the topic again since more stores and municipalities are requiring patrons to use their own bags.

We recommend bags that fold up into small totes so that you don’t create more clutter for yourself storing the reusable bags. Based on comments to our previous post and our internal research, here is an expanded list of suggestions:

67 Comments for “More reasons to purge disposable plastic bags and try reusable bags”

  1. posted by Michael on

    Here’s something I’m trying to come to grips with: I want to use reusable grocery bags, but in our home we use plastic grocery bags as our kitchen trash bags. We recycle a great deal, but everything that can’t be recycled goes into a small can lined by plastic grocery bag.

    If I have to start buying commercial trash bags, isn’t it a zero-sum-game in terms of the amount of plastic I’m using?

  2. posted by Paul on

    Michael, completely agree.

    I live in an apartment building with an incinerator chute. Plastic grocery bags fit perfectly not to mention the money saved. How about uncluttering by not having to buy additional garbage bags and not keeping garbage around longer in larger bags or even using smaller (ie under the sink) garbage cans?

  3. posted by Avlor on

    I’ve been starting to tinker with making my own. Here’s the pattern I’ve been using. (In the spirit of decluttering – I’ve been trying to find ways to use up my ridiculously large fabric stash.)

    I also share the same concern though as Michael, what can we do to line garbage cans, deal with pet droppings, etc? The store bags are free. (Free is often good in my book.)

  4. posted by Avlor on

    Argh. Didn’t get the pattern link in there. Pattern

    Posted a picture of one of the finished bags at my site.

  5. posted by James on

    If I cannot get free plastic bags from the grocery stores, I’m going to have to start purchasing them for putting the dirty cat litter into. They are also a lot more convenient in their holding power than paper when you have a lot of them and a small child to wrangle. The lack of plastic bags could, in some ways, dictate where we shop.

  6. Profile photo of Erin Doland

    posted by Erin Doland on

    If you reuse the bags from the grocery store, then I would figure out how many you use on a monthly basis, and only get that many from the store. Use a reusable bag the rest of the time.

  7. posted by Jen (SLC) on

    We use plastic shopping bags as our trash liners too, but I almost always use an Acme Workhorse for grocery shopping (keep it in my purse and it’s always ready to go). I find that I get enough plastic bags from other shopping trips to get by. I also sometimes ask friends or family to save their plastic bags for me. I dump my trash into my own trash can and a lot of times I can reuse the plastic bag a few times if my trash isn’t too messy. This means I really only need three or four plastic bags a month to deal with the trash we produce.

  8. posted by Sarah on

    I’ve started to rethink the other plastic bags in my life; bread bags, produce bags, etc. I can’t line a trash can with them, but I can get one more use from them before trashing them, like picking up pet poos.

  9. posted by robyn on

    target has started selling reusable bags in their dollar section by my house! they’ve got two varieties, but the one i’m a fan of is the one that zips up around itself so i can throw it into my purse and never be without a reusable bag. they’re only a buck, so even if you use it to help cut down on the little trips, the one-baggers, it’s a start.

  10. posted by Wesa on

    We don’t use a trash can liner. We put cat liter and meat scraps into the plastic bags that contain bread and/or other products (chip bags, etc). We recycle the majority of our waste including food scraps. There is no reason to use a trash bag.

  11. posted by Stacy on

    So, I used to shop at Costco and they gave customers reused boxes to hold smaller items together. I am thinking of something along those lines for my normal groceries, that would sit in my cart, i could put my items in it while shopping and then checkout and put them right back in. It would be nice if they were slightly easier to carry than a box.

    Does anyone know if these:

    http://www.containerstore.com/.....ODID=72110

    would be sturdy enough to hold heavy groceries?

  12. posted by Deb on

    I too have to echo the sentiments about cat litter. If plastic bags are banned, then what are we supposed to do with the cat doo? I use two bags a day as I have three cats and we are required to double bag our pet droppings. I know it throws a lot of plastic into the landfill, but I have no idea what else to do. If someone came up with a solution, they could be a millionaire! ha ha

  13. posted by Carrie on

    These would probaby work better:

    http://containerstore.com/brow.....D=10018832

    They make another style without a lid that would be suitable for taller items.

    I have been purchasing cloth bags from my local grocery store, plus I carry another zip up bag with me for other purchases. Any plastic bags I do get, are saved for another family member that uses them to pick up after the dog. I find that I prefer the cloth bags, and would like to find some string type bags for produce so I can eliminate another source of plastic into the home.

  14. posted by plaastique bague on

    another use for that stash of plastic bags!
    check it out:
    http://www.plaastiquebague.com

  15. posted by phil on

    I’m able to recycle plastic bags at selected grocery stores in my area. Minneapolis also requests various items be separated into paper bags when recycling. So I frequently request paper bags at the grocery store. Pet waste doesn’t factor in for our household but it’s an issue for lots of my friends. No SIMPLE/UNIVERSAL answers for any questions I’m afraid.

  16. posted by Jen_Milo on

    I am fond of the style of bags that are being sold by Whole Foods and the regional store I frequent most, Meijer. They have a rectangular, flat bottom and stand up easily. Most cashiers seem happy to use them and I think that is an important factor in the widespread adoption of reusable bags. They aren’t as pretty or compact as others, but I can fold all 8 or so of mine and put them into one.

    I find that I still have no problem collecting more plastic bags than I need for lining garbage cans. I don’t have a cat, but I did have 2 kids in disposable diapers and never experienced a shortage.

  17. posted by Merlyn on

    I’m switching over to fabric bags, but how do I solve the produce bag issue? What can I use to purchase my types of produce that will not affect the tare when it is weighed at the checkout?

  18. posted by Jen (SLC) on

    On the pet poop issue, I buy biodegradable bags for that at my local pet store. I just hate the idea of something so biodegradable sitting around in a plastic bag for a 1000 years. Plus the bag I buy have never had holes in them, unlike plastic shopping bags.

  19. posted by Michele on

    Merlyn:

    The checkout person can reset the tare with your empty fabric bag (or empty plastic container, for instance if you bring in your own container for tofu, freshly ground peanut butter, etc) on the scale. Then they can set it back to zero, with nothing on the scale, for the next item or customer.

  20. posted by Michele on

    If all my local grocery store discontinue plastic bags, I’ll be sad. Most of the time I try to use canvas shopping bags (I spent most of the 1990s as a hippie), but I like to keep plastic grocery sacks on hand for kitchen trash and cat litter changes.

  21. posted by Chris on

    I think I’m going to make the switch myself. Stop and shop sells fabric ones for 99 cents each and they seem bigger than typical plastic bags. Bigger bags means fewer trips carrying food into the house! I can’t see eliminating every instance of plastic bag use being very practical. We are on the right track as long as people are willing to do SOMETHING to change their ways.

    For awhile now, I’ve been refusing bags when I’m only buying a few items. (like at staples or whatever) I keep a box in my trunk to put stuff in so its not rolling all over the place.

  22. posted by Christina on

    I’ve lived in Denmark and all stores charge an extra dollar or so to give you a plastic bag. Suffice it to say, most people bring their own bags. Do you think if stores in the U.S. started charging for their bags, the use of reuseable bags would go up?

  23. posted by green your apartment on

    Fabulous!

    I just did a post on this not too long ago… it’s wonderful that we’re finally moving forward on getting this one-use disposable stuff out of our lives!

  24. posted by Scarlett on

    Our household has reusable bags. Some the grocery store model which I like best because they fold flat and have a high capacity much like a paper bag, others are just canvas totes.
    Sometimes when we make an impromptu run or are in the other car (not the one we keep the bags in), we get plastic bags and those are all we need for other uses.
    I also use plastic bags for kitty litter and small garbage cans.
    I find that some plastic bags from clothing stores, etc works for the garbage pails as well.
    I think if all the stores stopped having plastic bags, we would just buy small liners for the bins and kitty litter. Maybe someone will make a good paper bag for it.

  25. posted by FekketCantenel on

    Reasons I don’t like the whole canvas bag idea:

    1) Expense: $0 for plastic bags that I can then reuse for trash lining and clothes storage VERSUS $7 a pop (and we need twelve at a time – that’s $80) for canvas.

    2) I would be going out of my way to save Walmart money. That doesn’t sit right with me somehow.

    3) I’m naturally suspicious of anything labelled ‘better for the environment’ that costs eighty times the ‘bad for the environment’ option (see #1).

    4) San Francisco and China are advocating the switch. (If you don’t understand this item, just skip it.)

    5) Why would I want an entire set of bags that I only use once a week? Doesn’t that sound a lot like clutter?

    My family gladly used paper bags (which also have a very high level of reusability, my favorite of the three Rs) up until Walmart stopped providing them, presumably because higher biodegradability isn’t good enough for the environment.

    If the plastic ones are banned, we’re going to have to see if we can find some of those nifty cardboard banana boxes (which probably have the highest reusability of anything I could name).

    As for this canvas nonsense, you can keep it.

  26. posted by Tracy on

    Our local grocery store offers EarthWise bags (http://www.earthwisebags.com/) for $1.00 each. These bags are fantastic. They hold so much more than plastic bags, never tear, they stand up on their own, and weigh next to nothing. The only thing they DON’T do is remind me to take them into the grocery store with me…!

  27. posted by Christine on

    Some Whole Foods and other retailers sell BioBags – biodegradeable plastic bags that are made from corn and other vegetable products.

    For those of you concerned about what to do with pet droppings, pet stores often sell biodegradeable plastic bags (as someone mentioned above). Or, you can switch to a natural cat litter (safer for your cat and you – no more harmful silica dust) that you can simply flush down the toilet.

    For shopping, canvas bags are great – they hold WAY more than any plastic bag and last infinitely longer. You think you’re spending a lot of money verses plastic? Think again – they pay for themselves. PLUS, if you have extra fabric lying around, want to stand out a little more, or are dying to get crafty – make your own!

    Anyone who says that they’ll shop elsewhere if plastic bags are banned: seriously, see the benefit to yourself, your children and your planet. It’s your home, too, so take care of it.

    /steps off soapbox

  28. posted by Leslie on

    I’ve been using the Acme Bags Earth Tote for the last couple of years (available from reusablebags.com) and they’re great. They are the same size and shape as a paper grocery bag and hold LOTS of groceries. I keep mine in the car so they’re always available for shopping trips.

  29. posted by Ryan Young on

    For all of those who are seeking an alternative to plastics bags for lining their trash cans, litter boxes, etc., check out BioBags, available at Whole Foods and lots of other places. These are corn-based “plastic” bags that biodegrade over time and are actually compostable as well.

    Before you click on the link, a few answers. Yes, they cost money and in fact more money than regular plastic garbage bags. Yes, they are NOT as strong as regular plastic, but almost.

    In the end, you can’t get something for nothing. In order to reduce your clutter and help the earth and your grandchildren, you are going to have to make a sacrifice. Those plastic shopping bags from the grocery store may be “free” to you, but not to the future generations who will have to deal with them because you didn’t want to pay a few cents to use a bag that degrades in something faster than 500-1000 years. Shifting your clutter from you to a future generation is not the solution.

  30. posted by jb on

    I absolutely love Chico bags (www.chicobag.com) for groceries. They come in lots of colors and are very strong. They’re also much roomier than they appear and fold up to be quite small.

    For trash, I buy BioBags, which are biodegradable and compostable. You can read about them at http://www.biobagusa.com. You can order them at http://www.drugstore.com, among other sites (see the BioBag website). I use them in my kitchen garbage can; they don’t hold up as well as I like, so I often double-bag, but they get the job done. They make doggie bag sizes, as well as 3, 13, & 33 gal. bags.

  31. posted by Christine on

    For those of you unable to give up plastic bags, why not try Bio Bags (http://www.biobagusa.com/)? For cat litter, try switching to a natural cat litter (like Swheat Scoop – 100% natural and no silica dust or other harmful toxins) and then you can flush the clumps.

    As for grocery bags – I go canvas all the way. They hold up brilliantly, hold more items and, if you make your own, look fabulous. Plus, they all fold down into one another and store neatly – just keep them in your car trunk or in the closet next to your coat for when you go out.

    Seriously, though – refusing to curb the plastic bag consumption only does harm. Have a little respect for your planet!

  32. posted by Cori on

    I’m all for using canvas bags, but when I buy raw meat at the grocery store, I prefer to put it in plastic. I don’t want salmonella dripping all over my other groceries and the canvas bag.

  33. posted by Ryan Young on

    “Each year, Americans throw away some 100 billion polyethylene plastic bags. (Only 0.6 percent of plastic bags are recycled.)” – Worldwatch Institute

    I second the post by Christine on biobags. They are great. Completely biodegradable and compostable. Available at Whole Foods and elsewhere. They even have cat litter liners. A few things: Yes, they do cost money, more than even regular plastic garbage bags. And Yes, they aren’t as strong as regular plastic bags, but they are very close.

    If you want to make a difference in the environment and for future generations, you are going to have to make some sacrifices. Nothing is “free”…even plastic bags from grocery stores! Future generations will have to bear the cost/burden of dealing with all of those bags that take 500-1000 years to decompose. It doesn’t do much to shift the cost from you to them by continuing to use plastic bags from grocery stores because they are “free”.

    ALSO – PLEASE DON’T FLUSH CAT LITTER. Even if it says “Flushable”. Cat litter from flushing gets into the oceans more quickly than throwing it out with the garbage, and has been linked to killing sea otters.

    http://cats.about.com/cs/paras.....ters_2.htm

  34. posted by mona on

    Like many others here, I think it’s a bad idea to ban plastic bags. I use a reusable cloth bag for many of my trips to the store, but for those trips where cloth bags are not practical, I am fine using the grocery store bags. Why? Because I re-use these bags for everything from trash can liners to using them to hold my homemade bread. If I did not have the option of getting free grocery store bags, not only would my life be inconvenienced, I would have to go out and buy similar bags for use around the house, which would mean more cost to me and just as much waste.

  35. posted by 14k on

    hello, what about reuable backpack? Can anyone recommand any?

  36. posted by Jenny on

    I have one of these http://www.activeforever.com/p.....-cart.aspx which allows me to carry almost a whole weeks worth of groceries the mile + from the grocery store to my apartment. My wheelie bag is great for taking stuff on public transit. It allowed me an easy way to carry stuff which is great since I sold my car. (Which really cuts down on the clutter :)

  37. posted by Jason on

    I have to laugh at this. 20 years ago I worked in a grocery store paying my way through college. One day the manager brought a bunch of us to the back room and we each carried out those God-forsaken plastic bag holders and a box of bags.

    We were told paper was on the way out and these plastic bags would save the environment because they were biodegradable.

    Now here we are discussing how to recycle them, get rid of them, use them for different things. Why? Because they clutter up our landfills and our lives.

    We knew 20 years ago these things wouldn’t save the environment. It took at least twice as many of the plastic to bag someone’s groceries than it did the paper.

    I just can’t help but laugh at how ridiculous it is.

  38. posted by Brian Wong on

    Hi, I am living in Hong Kong. BYOB is really a problem here. Many stores offer me lots of “environmental friendly” shopping bags. Although they can be reused , durable and can be used during shopping, they create a new source of clutter in my home -_-

  39. posted by Poobail on

    Hi, I’m glad to see this topic, too. I was in Australia in Nov on business and was encouraged to see that they advocate using cloth bags. Many of the stores sell their own, but unlike the grocery store canvas ones I’ve bought here over the years, they are cheap, bigger and more durable. I bought 2 at Woolworths for .99 each and they are GREAT. They are lightweight, have a box bottom and long enough handles to put on my shoulder to carry. I keep them in my car and thus, when I’m going to the store, they are ready to grab. Also, I have been refusing bags for a year now, it throws the clerk for a loop sometimes, but they get over it. So many times I am buying small quantities of things so who needs yet another bag at home?!

  40. posted by Poobail on

    I’m new to posting, I apologize for the double post. I found a story that explains what Australia is doing and shows one of their bags. http://www.planetark.com/campa...../story.htm

  41. posted by cgallaty on

    The local Lund chain here has *thee* best design for reusable bags. They are the size of a stock paper bag and *square* so they stand by themselves, plus they fold up and snap. To boot, they sell them as impulse for $1.50 a pop! We own like 10 of them and I take them into *every* other store I go to. (Especially Whole Foods >;^) but Target and the like as well.

    The biggest trick is to have A) a lot of bags, as you are going to forget to bring them out to the car after use and B) keep them in a place that you *see* them, as if you don’t have them in hand on the way in, you are not likely to run out and get them later. The one thing that I’ve noted is that they beat the hell out of paper and plastic on strength, but then I’m big on making *one* trip in the house and carrying two full bags per hand.

    We actually had to get two sets as my wife keeps stealing them to use to pack things for trips with my son. (swimming, etc)

  42. posted by Lori on

    I *love* my Envirosax bags. I’ve been using them for about a year, and they hold so much more than the plastic grocery store bags. And if they get dirty, just throw them in the wash.

    If you’re interested in something with a bit more personality, check these out:
    http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?u.....id=5238278

    As for cat litter, we have a small plastic bin (~6 x 10 x 5 in.) with a tight-fitting lid. We line it with a plastic bag and fill it with the scoopings, then trash the bag when it’s full. This way, we use only two plastic bags a week for this purpose.

    Whoever asked about produce: I don’t bother bagging produce unless it is wet or I have a large number of a single item. Since I’m usually buying only three apples or two potatoes, it’s not a problem — I just group like items together on the belt. The few bags that I do take find other uses around the house.

  43. posted by tracy on

    I just made the switch! I love my minusbags reusable bags! (www.minusbags.com) They hold twice as much as a plastic grocery bag and come in great colorful designs. They’re machine washable too. I also like the fact that they’re made in the US of 100% cotton.

  44. posted by cgallaty on

    FYI I asked Lunds where they sourced their bags from. Here’s a link with pics:

    http://www.europackaging.co.uk/buy-core3.html

    Looks like you’d have to buy in bulk. But again, fabulous bags.

  45. posted by Christine on

    Merlyn—I’ve seen net/tulle bags on etsy for reusable produce bags. They’d be super easy to make, too.

    http://www.etsy.com/view_listi.....id=9343706

  46. posted by Christine on

    Wegmans grocery stores sell durable, reusable bags for .99. I’ve switched to those, and I still get the occasional plastic bag to wrap meat, or items that might spill. I use the plastic bags for litterbox and garbage cans, too. Since I switched to reusable bags, I find that I still get enough plastic ones to meet my needs without building up those giant wads of plastic bags that had to be taken back to the store for recycling. There are just two people in my household. Five reusable Wegmans’ bags are almost always enough to carry a week’s work of groceries. I love them.

  47. posted by Kris on

    Garden ridge sells cloth bags with supported bottoms and longish handles for $1 each. I bought two dozen. I keep several in my car for groceries. Then going on an overnight trip, each boy gets a bag for their toys. If it doesn’t fit in the bag, it doesn’t go. Each bag is roughly 26 inches long, 5 inches deep and at least 12 inches tall. It holds alot. And you can wash it over and over and OVER and OVER again. They also come in all sorts of crazy colors. They also have a waterproof/zippered type that’s great for ice cream or things that may leak during your trip home from the grocery store; or for wet clothes from the beach; or for smelly shoes, etc.

  48. posted by Nicki on

    FekketCantenel – you still shop at Wal-Mart?! No wonder you think plastic bags are ok.

    Do you really only use plastic bags once a week? I doubt your family makes only one [large] purchase a week. Most people make several through out the week, which is why bringing your own bag makes sense.

    If bringing one reuseable bag with you can eliminate 300-700 plastic bags a year, then why not give it a shot? With so many being available for as little as a dollar a piece, I don’t think the argument of them being too expensive can be used.

    Instead of finding reasons why NOT to do it, why not figure out a way to do something positive.

    Many people here have mentioned all of the other options people have for pet waste [bread bags, etc.] if you just open your eyes and think about it for a minute.

  49. posted by dock on

    things to consider – plastic bags are not evil – they can be recycled, made into new bags and reused over and over again. try that with a wet paper bag. they take up much far less space than a paper bag in a landfill. paper bags buried in modern landfills take decades to decompose. have you ever seen what a paper pulp plant does to the environment. have you considered how much more fuel it takes to transport the same number of paper bags as plastic bags. american consumers have been spoiled and come to expect free bags at all stores not just grocery stores. if your want to do your part in reduction of plastic get your resuable bags and take when shopping but not just groceries but shoes and all other stores. and if you forget your resuable bags, pick plastic when available because they are a better choice for the environment than paper.

  50. posted by supersocco on

    another cool reusable bag design company
    http://www.redflagdesign.ca/
    they have a hatred for plastic bags too.

  51. posted by supersocco on

    “pick plastic when available because they are a better choice for the environment than paper.”

    Do you not have paper recycling in your city?

  52. posted by Sarah on

    I’ve lived in Europe for 2 years now, and it just makes me laugh to see the US up in arms about something that has been going on over here forever. We have to purchase bags from the supermarket if we want to use them. I truly truly wish the USA would do that too. I’d say better than 75% of people bring their own bags or baskets, and many stores have promotions where they give away doo-dads that fit over the carts that you put your groceries straight into. We knew about this before we moved, and bought the largest canvas bags that Trader Joe’s sells (I think $20?), and they have been amazing. We use them week in and week out and haven’t had an issue with the quality of construction. (Plus, if you use them at Trader Joe’s in the US, you get a discount on your groceries). I definitely think they have made up for their cost in the amount we use them!

    Anyway, we have a cat and we use doggie poop bags that the city provides to clean up his poop. Yep, free plastic bags from a little dispenser in the park. They do this in the US too. I suppose we would buy them at the pet store if they weren’t available. I certainly wouldn’t complain about having to buy poop bags if I had to — nobody made me own a cat, so it’s my job to figure out how to responsibly take care of its waste.

    We recycle about 85% of what we take in (and I’m phasing out companies that don’t make recyclable products), and the stores are required to accept packing from the products they sell (ie – styrofoam, cardboard, etc – for example Ikea takes back everything including batteries and lightbulbs) It makes for a bit more work on my end, including more legwork to take things to the recycling drop-off points, but to complain is just about LAZINESS. We have to be responsible consumers, so if I’m not willing to be responsible then I shouldn’t consume.

    Buy bags, stash them everywhere, and use them. Not really all that difficult.

  53. posted by lee on

    am all for reusable bags, have a couple of envirosax and more of the local grocers’ bags. i know there must be an option out there for small trash liners – but i haven’t gotten around to seeking them out and converting. So every once in a while i take the free bags from the grocery. but we’re pretty good at keeping them at bay – i even sometimes run out.

  54. posted by The Chatty Housewife on

    Ikea still uses plastic bags in WA, they just charge you 5 cents and donate it to a forest saving charity if you choose to use them. I am sure it helps. They also sell various types and sizes of reusable bags.

  55. posted by Christine on

    I bring canvas bags (that I got free from various promotional things throughout my life…) mainly because they’re easier for me to carry. What fits into one canvas bag takes, oh, anywhere from 3-5 plastic ones, and that’s my small canvas bag. So, essentially I can carry one over each arm and up into my apartment. I’m not perfect by any means, but anyone who thinks that using plastic is somehow better is lying to themself. I understand the pet poo concerns…that’s something that we’ve got to come up with a better idea about (like the bags made from corn or whatever…)

  56. posted by Andreas - in Denmark on

    Here the shops, as stated above, do charge for simple polyeth. bags, but the thing is that they’re THICK – really thick, often with good handles, and they’re really good for reuse. In fact, most of mine (I have a stash in the cupboard) have had dozens of trips the the supermarket.

    with regard to the above statements about reusing the plastic bags for garbage disposal, well, here a regular garbage bag is really thin, you know, since it’s disposable, and hence the environmental footprint of sending one of those off to the garbage burner isn’t nearly as high as chucking out a big hefty shopping bag.

    For larger stuff, like carrying my laundry to the ‘mat, I use the fabbo blue IKEA shopping bags. We have at least ten here, and they’re in frequent use. Also good for taking my newspapers to the recycling pod.

    As for above posters claiming that paper and cardboard is “more recyclable” than canvas bags or plastic, well… nah, don’t even want to go there ;)

  57. posted by Boston Charlie on

    Kind of like Ikea not listing max wattage on lamp info tags, but suggesting some low wattage fluorescent replacement as “suitable for use”. Or like Ikea actually still supplying plastic bags public despite claims to the contrary.

    So – I say “Sweet! Yet another reason to skip the whole Whole Foods guilt trip shopping experience.” Trader Joe’s for me. Paper bags without a side of Guilt. But only for a few goodies at TJ. Give me my plastic at Kroger’s!

  58. posted by Reuse This Bag on

    Wow, excellent suggestions in the comments about finding biodegradable bags at the pet store — I was wondering about that myself in regards to my poor cat. That’s really about the only thing plastic bags have going for them, so it’s great to know there are other options even there…

  59. posted by Bucky M on

    1. Whether bioplastic or paper, biodegradable bags are still disposable and are contaminants in the recycling of regular shopping bags. Biodegradable bags are a feel-good knee-jerk response, but they are NOT a real solution.
    2. San Francisco’s much-touted bag plastic bag ban is a public relations sham. It only applies to grocery stores and pharmacies, and only ones of a certain minimum size, and then only if the bag has a logo printed on it. The vast majority of retailers are not affected.

  60. posted by Bucky M on

    … and let’s not forget that life cycle studies have shown that manufacturing a disposable paper or biodegradable plastic bag takes more energy and generates more air and water pollution than manufacturing a regular plastic bag.

  61. posted by Peregrin on

    I don’t know if anyone will see this comment, but here’s what we do.

    1. Use canvas bags for hauling groceries.
    2. Use mesh lingerie bags for bagging produce.
    3. Put cat waste into a diaper pail lined with a plastic trash bag (keeps the odor contained, plus you don’t have to empty it as often).

    Now, if I could only remember to take the canvas bags into the store with me when I shop….

  62. posted by ailaG on

    I have a big backpack in my car, and when shopping I use 1-2 bags – for things that might open under pressure. The rest goes straight back to the cart after check out – which saves some time on bagging it, too. (we usually have to do the bagging ourselves and I’m slow at that)

    This is both environmental and more comfortable than carrying bags or scheduling delivery.

    (and in my case, lets me get all the groceries up the 74 stairs in one trip)

  63. posted by Katie on

    I love my reusable shopping bags because I can use them as luggage when I take the bus across the city to see my parents and join in with their laundry. I couldn’t do the same thing with plastic bags for fear of looking like a tramp, but the good canvas ones are getting really fashionable around the university campus!! Also I only really shop at Tesco and Lidl. Tesco have a loyalty card and you get 1 point (worth 1 penny) for every bag you reuse. My flat mates don’t get the reusing of bags so we have bales of them cluttering up the kitchen, hanging of the door handle.
    I <3 my reusable bags

  64. posted by catmom on

    Just like Christine, I too have gotten free totes over the years. Glad that I can put them to use for grocery shopping! They definitely hold more than the plastic bags.

    For you plastic bag lovers, I’m not against them, matter of fact I use mine as litter bags for my car. I keep half a dozen on hand, the rest I take to the grocery store for recycling.

  65. posted by FekketCantenel on

    More than a year later, I finally make it back to this page to rejoin the conversation.

    “FekketCantenel – you still shop at Wal-Mart?! No wonder you think plastic bags are ok.”

    I haven’t been confronted with such stuck-up superiority since someone called me a “poor, white trash b****” a few weeks ago (the ‘white trash’ part isn’t true). I work for near minimum wage to support two adults; I shop at Walmart and I like it. (Aldi’s is another option, but that place gives me the creeps.)

    “Do you really only use plastic bags once a week? I doubt your family makes only one [large] purchase a week.”

    Believe it. My parents (and I, when I was living with them) lived thirty miles from the nearest grocery store, and would therefore make one big trip a week.

    After reading quite a bit of literature about how frequent grocery trips can cause you to overspend, I’ve taken a page from my parents’ book and only go grocery shopping on Saturday nights (when the store isn’t crowded). I buy much less than my parents (my family is two, now, not four), but still relish the simplicity of it.

    “With so many being available for as little as a dollar each, I don’t think the argument of them being too expensive can be used.”

    To clarify, I made my input after research on Amazon, which yielded bags as cheap as $7. This was before Walmart started selling canvas bags of comparable quality for 50¢. When they did, I bought four, which can hold my entire weekly grocery trip. I’ve since forgotten them _every time we’ve gone grocery-shopping_, because they’re unessential unitaskers. What a waste of two dollars!

    “Instead of finding reasons why NOT to do it, why not figure out a way to do something positive.”

    Here’s the thing: I wouldn’t give a nickel for the environment. I’ve got cheaper and more urgent things to worry about. Reusing items is fun and can save money, and so I do that. But I can’t afford to go along for the ride with you Planeteers. Good for you guys, dedicating your valuable time and abundant budgets to what you consider a worthy cause, but understand that not everyone _can_ or _cares_.

  66. posted by Elaine on

    Over the last 2-3 years I’ve acquired the nickname of “The Crazy Bag Lady” at my neighborhood grocery. I own nearly a dozen cloth shopping bags and have been very diligent about using them. Because plastic bags aren’t accepted at our recycling center (though you can return them at the store, but whoever remembers to do that?), they annoy me.

    We had gotten ourselves pared down to just a few bags per week, which we used in our wastebaskets. And then guess what came into our lives? A kitty! An indoor kitty, whose box needs to be scooped out daily. Soon, we discovered that it was necessary to leave the cloth bags in the car and hope for plastic. Plastic bags are the only thing that works for feline sanitation. So (sigh) we’re back to plastic while we attempt to train Precious to use the toilet. Just kidding…

  67. posted by Alice on

    I’m not sure if it works for cat poop, but for those of you with dogs, google “dog poop digester”.

    We don’t throw dog poop in the trash anymore- our can smells much better, and the digester works great.

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