Monday, September 25, 2017

Make It Better Monday: Reusable Shopping Bags

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

Many cities and states have passed laws or are are working to ban plastic grocery bags.  This may be considered an environmental win, but for some it may be an economic loss.  Personally, I used my plastic grocery bags to dispose of dirty disposable diapers and I currently use them to line my bathroom garbage can.  Having said that, I limit the number of plastic bags I get at the store because I only need so many bags on hand and with 8 people in our family, the bags add up quickly.  So, whether you live in an area that has banned plastic bags and you need to find a replacement or you want to help reduce the number of plastic bags that are out there, reusable shopping bags can help.

There are a few downsides to reusable shopping bags, so here are some tips for making them work for you.  After all, if you are spending the money on the bags, you want to make sure you are actually using them.

Problem: Always forgetting your bags

It took me a long time to remember to put my bags in the van before going shopping.  I started out with some of the ones like the strawberry bags posted at the top. These are easy to keep in your bag and take up little space so even if you forget your bags, you have at least have something with you.  It is important to note that these types of bags tend to be a bit smaller so keep that in mind.  Another alternative is to keep your bags in your vehicle.  We keep a stash of bags in the trunk of our van.  It took a couple of trips before we were remembering to put the bags back in the trunk, but it was an easy habit to develop and it works great for us now.  We bring the bags in, empty them and put them right back outside (unless they need washing, see below.)  If you find you forget to bring them in the store, you can always go back out and grab them, bring your groceries our unbagged and bag them in the parking lot, or choose reusable bags that you can clip to your keychain, like the ones shown above.

Problem: You use your plastic bags for garbage, diapers, dog waste, etc.

This is where I am at.  As I said above, we would receive a LOT of plastic grocery bags when we go shopping if everything was bagged in plastic.  When I am just picking up a few things, I will have those items bagged in plastic bags so that we have a small supply of bin liners on hand.  Other options are to only use bin liners in the bins that receive "wet"  or sticky trash, or to use cereal bags, old chip bags, potato bags, etc to pick up and/or hold waste.  By reducing our dependence on plastic bags, we will be able to make the switch easier if and when the time comes that we need to.

Problem: They carry germs

There is no doubt that carrying items like raw meat, will contaminate your reusable bags.  They WILL need to be washed regularly.  Keep this in mind when shopping for them and be sure to buy some that are easy to wash.  Use the ones that are not so easy to wash for canned and boxed items.  We use a few different styles, one for packaged items, one for fresh fruits and veggies, one for raw meats, and an insulated style for cold and frozen items.  If I do not have one with me that is easy to wash, I do go ahead and get plastic to wrap around any raw meat I may be buying or I simply have them bag it for me in a plastic bag.  Many reusable bags can be washed with your regular laundry.  For those that cannot be washed in the laundry, you can wipe them down with a good cloth and disinfect as needed.

I am not perfect about using reusable grocery bags, but it is something I am working on.  I hope this will give you some ideas of how you can reduce your dependence on plastic bags, so that you will be prepared if the day comes that you are forced to give them up.  If you have other concerns regarding reusable bags, please leave a comment and I will try to address it.

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