What better item to apply the 3 R's (reduce/re-use/recycle) to than shopping bags?
I have received my purchases in cheap, flimsy plastic bags that can only hold 2 things before they break, yet at other stores, I have gotten nice, large strong bags that can hold many items easily. However, it is beyond my powers (except to write to the stores and request they switch bags) to make a store use "good" bags, so how can I reduce the number of bags I use?
-Get some re-usable shopping bags and use them. These can be purchased for about $1-$2 at most retailers. They also seem to be the new advertising item, like pens or magnets. I have attended two events this summer (the NY state fair and an open house put on by our landfill) where I received MANY of these bags for free, enough to always have some in the car and the ones in the house that I forgot to put back in the car from the last shoppng trip. (They also make great re-usable gift bags)
-Forgo putting your produce into the plastic bags in the produce department.
-Do not have larger items put into bags.
-Have the cashier/bagger put as many items as possible (without it breaking or needing to be double-bagged) in each bag.
-Use the plastic bags for disposing of dirty diapers. Tied up tight, they keep the smell in for quite some time, especially helpful in the summer heat when you have them sitting in your trash can.
-Use them to line small garbage cans. We actually use these in place of all regular garbage bags. They usually fill up quickly enough that they don't stink, unlike some bigger garbage bags that can take a while to fill.
-Use paper bags to cover schoolbooks. I remember loving going back to school just because it gave me a "clean slate" to decorate every year.
-Paper bags can also be used to wrap packages for shipping, just be sure to put the side with the store name on the inside.
-Paper bags can also be decorated and used as gift wrap.
-You can make "plarn" out of plastic bags and use it to knit or crochet all sorts of fun things with. I have seen rugs, Barbie-type clothes (she really doesn't care if it is a little scrathcy), water bottle holders, and even re-usable shopping bags. There are a whole bunch of ideas and instructions here.
-Check with your local recycling center to see if you can put these out with your other recyclables. Usually, paper bags can go with your paper/cardboard items, but not all places take plastic bags.
-Check your local grocery store to see if they recycle the shopping bags.
I would love to hear how you re-use your shopping bags. Please share in a comment.