The Joy of Reusable Shopping Bags
One of my favorite bags. A work of art!
Confessions of a bag lady
Yes, I admit it. I am a bag lady! Reusable bag lady that is.
I have so many reusable shopping bags that I cannot find places to store them anymore. The trunk of my car is filled with bags, the storage cabinets in my garage are breaking at the seams with bags, my kitchen pantry now has more bags than food. Bags, bags and bags everywhere. Bags given away at trade shows to market vendor's products. Bags given to me for participation in Walk-A-Thons for various charities. Bags bought at favorite markets. Bags, bags and more bags. I love reusable bags! I have no idea how I lived without them.
Reusable bags have been used in other countries for a long time. Other countries for a long time since having plastic or paper bags were not typically offered. I traveled through Ireland and England in the early 1990s none of the food stores offered plastic bags. Many people used their own two wheeled shopping cart and the Chemist or butcher wrapped those items in brown paper. Only recently has Europe gone to offering plastic bags at their stores.
My husband and I travel a lot. Everywhere we go, I find a new and different bag to buy. Why not? They serve as good places to bag all the maps, trinkets and souvenirs we have collected on our trip.
I have used the reusable shopping bags as gift bags too. One Christmas I gave my son and his girlfriend a reusable bag filled with beach items, like towels, sunscreen, books, sunglasses neatly attached to two sand chairs. And, they actually have used the bag many times!
I am no fan of the cheap plastic bags markets offer. Mainly because they do not hold a lot of items or items cannot be contained in them. Either the bag breaks while I am trying to unload or items spill out of plastic bags on the trip home. Then there is the free floating plastic bags that are ALWAYS on the Los Angeles freeways. These annoying owner-less bags seem to always find the undercarriage of my auto and wrap firmly around the axle. Do you know how hard it is to free a plastic bag from under your car? ANNOYING!
Do I think plastic bags should be banned? I am not a fan of banning anything as it reminds me of Germany circa 1940s....so no I do not think we should ban the plastic bag. I believe incentive works best when trying to instill change of habit in people. Markets who offer "free" reusable bags with coupons printed on the bags or 2-4% off your groceries when shopping with a reusable bag go much further to convince the public to use reusable bags than outright banning of plastic ones. No one likes to be forced into change.
One of my favorite bags is from a local Los Angeles market chain called "Trader Joes" in the last few years, I think TJ's (as us locals call it) has expanded outside of the Southern California area where it was conceived. It is a fabulous store with wonderful fresh fruit, vegetables, frozen products from all over the World and mostly--great wine selections. The bag has gotten me so many compliments. It is wonderful decorated on the outside with artwork and the TJs slogan "Sail the Culinary Seas" written within the artwork so magically. oh yeah...that's what I'm talking about. The baggers at TJs know this one of a kind bag can be filled to the brim. It holds lots and lots of goodies. When I take this particular bag with me to a competing market, I have to tell the bagger to "fill it up" this bag "can handle a heavy load".
I have used this bag for so many things, picnics to outdoor concerts, work files, goodies for office potlucks...great and beautiful bag. And, it looks much more expensive than it really is. My former boss thought the bag was very expensive. It seems his ex-wife at one time bought the same $1.99 bag from TJs as well but told him it was $100.00. When I told him "ah NO it is a $1.99 at the local Trader Joe's" he turned a bright red to purple shade and said in his very British voice "Bloody HELL!" Seems the ex had to explain a $100 deficit in their joint bank account and blamed it on the bag! He was very cheap and she had to hide money, so no doubt the marriage was on course for divorce.
The beauty of reusable bags are their capacity to hold lots of items as opposed to the cheap plastic kind. I tired of getting 20 plastic bags filled with 1 or 2 items and trying to carry them into my house pack mule-style. With the reusable bags, I can limit my shopping purchases to 2-3 bags and, the bags do not have a tendency to spill all the items like the plastic bags do. Wonderful!
Benefits to the environment by using a reusable bag cannot be overlooked either. Wouldn't it be nice to live in a World where you did not have to stumble over plastic bags? I am amazed to find myself hiking in the wilderness and come upon a stream only to find a plastic shopping bag from Walmart or Kmart lying there. Who? How? Where did this bag come from? Probably traveled miles and miles on the wind currents. That is the horrible awful truth about plastic bags. They liter our shorelines, mountain areas and deserts injuring or killing wildlife.
Let's look at the possibilities for use of the reusable shopping bag. I have already told you I use them for gift bags, but did you know they make great travel bags? If you are traveling by car, why not pack a reusable bag? The make great alternatives to hard suit cases.
My children have used reusable bags in place of back packs.
Reusable bags are perfect for beach trips as a carry-all or to pack some snacks for an outdoor concert.
I have used a reusable bag to carry books, files, supplies from work to home on those days I telecommute. A reusable bag carries more items than my computer bag.
What uses can you think of for the reusable bag?