12 April 2008

The many uses of the reusable grocery bag

Jamie shares why she loves reusable grocery bags:

Our local grocery store is selling Earthwise simple reusable grocery bags for .99 cents. It took about a week to get used to remembering to bring it in to the grocery store but now I love it for 2 reasons: we save .05 cents for each one we use, each time (we have 3 now- 1 for each car and an extra) and we don't have tons of plastic bags hanging around or in the garbage.

I have also found it nice to use when I need to return and pick out new library books - it's easier to carry him when I don't have my hands full of picture books.

There are SO many uses for these bags (not to mention their environmental virtues). Beach and pool totes, general catch-alls for the car, handy storage for hats, mittens, goggles, etc., when hung over a hook in the closet. How else do you use your reusable shopping bags?

Related: Reusable shopping bags make "green" gift bags (great ideas in the comments of that post, too.)

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I'm using mine to carry supplies to a baby shower I'm co-hosting today! I love my Trader Joe's bags - they are sturdy and colorful and have a round bottom, so they stand up in the car and hold LOTS of groceries.

I use mine CONSTANTLY. We use them to get groceries, make drugstore runs, go to the library etc.

I even take a couple of my "pretty bags" in with me when I go department store or mall shopping. They fold and fit inside my purse/diaper bag very easily.

I try to keep my coupons in with my stash of bags. That way, I won't forget to take the bags in the store with me!

I give a bag to each child for toy-roundup time to return all the lego creations, books, nerf shooters and whatnot back to their rightful places. (The problem is that the bags then usually sit full in the playroom for a few days. )
These also fare pretty well as swim/soccer/sports bags to keep your kids weekly stuff in, as long as you remember to unpack them and repack them right away. (Nothing like needing to go for a swim and finding a full bag of wet towel and swimsuit. )

Swimming bags! They hold a ton of stuff and it has a little "breathe" to the bag so everything doesn't mildew right away!

I'll second the vote for Trader Joe's canvas bags! We use 'em for grocery shopping, of course (even tho we don't have a TJ anywhere near us) but we also use them as lunch sacks, toy totes, and just about anything else.

I like the idea of using reusable grocery bags at the library. Too often I have a baby on my hip and a too-TALL stack of books in my hands when I walk out of the library - it's a precarious situation...and this sounds like a much better alternative.

We gave one to each of the kids (4&3) and let them pack their own toys and books for our last weekend road trip. I told them they could put in anything they wanted, but everything had to fit inside the bag.

I like to use them when my kids tire of carrying the things they had to bring along and were SURE they would carry themselves.

I actually have a library bag separate from my shopping bags-- I try to get the books back in the bag as they are read, so I have less to track down when they're due.

I grab one out of the back of the car when I go to pick up my kids from preschool. Their papers, blankets, art projects, etc. go in the bag, which goes over my shoulder so I have my hands free to hold theirs.

I find that if you put all of your reusable bags in one bag, hook a carabeener to it, and hang it on the back of the head rest you will remember to take them in with you. I also use the carabeener to attach it to the outside of the grocery cart. That way I don't loose any room and the bagger finds it easily.

I use mine to make grocery shopping easier. I have a 2 year old, 1 year old, and am 6 months pregnant. So when I shop, the little one goes in the cart seat, the two year old (and a toy) go in the "cart" along with the bags. I fill them as I shop and put them on the underneath part of the cart. This has two benefits: 1. When I get to checkout, I just put the full bags up on the belt, so it makes unloading/kid watching a bit easier (and less tiring!) and 2. By giving the cashier one extra bag, they can "reload" the bags as they go. When I get home, I know what's in each bag so I know what can sit on the counter and what needs to go in the fridge/freezer right away. With small children, putting all the groceries away at once is not always possible!

Besides many of the uses listed here (but particularly for library use!), we also use our bags for carrying things to the playground and carrying food and drink when we're going to be out of the house for a while.

Costco is now selling huge (Costco-sized!) 3 packs of bags for less than $4. This things are massive - two of them fill up a Costco cart, and they have long handles. So much better to use those than all of the empty boxes they usually put your stuff in!

I have nine(!) that I use for shopping each week, and they also get used for clearing out the car on Fridays. When we get home from work/daycare/aftercare, each child takes a bag, gathering each of their belongings that have accumulated during the week. When they get in the house, they do a quick run-through to gather anything else that is out of place in the house, and head straight to their rooms to empty the bags. This gets the house and car ready for our busy weekend. There was some grumbling from the kids when we started this, but now it's routine, and they all appreciate waking up to a tidy house and car on Saturday.

I've purchased a couple of reusable Big Blue Bags from Ikea (59 cents each). They are HUGE and perfect for Costco trips.

The (temporary) downside of this that we're dealing with right now - finding new (or old) ways to do things we often use those bags for!

I used to put newspapers into paper bags for recycling, and now I'll have to go back to tying them into bundles.

My brother-in-law and his dog are living with us, and that means 'poop bags'. We keep the plastic bags newspapers come in and the plastic produce bags, but I have a feeling we're going to run out from time to time!

Just got back from a plane trip with a toddler, and the tiny zip up Target bag I had in my purse came in handy to put our shoes in when we went through security. It didn't count as a carryon but went through security with shoes in it just fine. I can't tell you what a relief it was to be able to grab the bag with my husband and my shoes in there so that one of us had a free hand for our very independent 18mo.

Oops, apparently I should proofread! My husbands' *shoes* were in the bag, not my husband!:)

We have about 5 of the Whole Foods bags made by ChicoBag (nylon) - they are palm-sized and have a carabiner, so I keep one in my purse, one in the baby carrier (ergobaby), and most of the rest in the diaper bag. Most places we go to give us 5 cents for each, and the bags cost $3 (I'm sure they've already paid for themselves). In a pinch I've used them for library books and even just walking to the mailbox since our 8 month old LOVES to grab and chew on paper. My husband sometimes uses them to take food to work. Right now we're on a roadtrip and we filled them with extra diapers, wipes, snacks (separate bag), souvenirs, etc.

My very favorite re-usable bags are Envirosax. They roll up (snaps hold them in place) so there is no stuff sack to lose; they're small so its very easy to put on in your purse, backpack etc and always have one with you. And they're pretty! I gave them out as holiday presents and everyone has raved about them.
http://www.envirosax.com/

My local library takes the grocery bags. When they start to pile up, I drop them off there when we go to the library. Also, local farmer's markets' vendors will gladly take them.

Oops, apparently I should proofread!

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