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Priscilla

Toward a Reduction in Plastic Bag Blight:

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There have been a few discussions about shopping bags, reusable and not, including this current one about the use/overuse of plastic bags. Another, mostly about a gadabout Central Market paper bag also touches on the topic of reusable bags. And there was this earlier round-up. Smallworld, in her recent foodblog, showed us her efforts in this regard as a Canadian living n Japan.

Maybe it would be useful to have a place to posit strategies that have helped instill the reusable bag habit. What would make it easier? What would be an encouragement? Does the type of bag affect ease of use?

For all the years I've been shopping at them (something approaching 21) I have had no problem at all bringing my own bag or basket to the farmer's market. It is a part of the experience, has been from the beginning.

It has taken a LONG time to transfer this habit to regular grocery shopping. I don't worry about 100% success, but as a person who shops frequently for single-bag amounts it is an approachable improvement in Plastic Bag Blight in my immediate environment. A drop in the ocean of the total population of plastic bags, but at least doable.

What has finally worked for me was PUTTING THE BAG WITH MY PURSE IMMEDIATELY AFTER UNPACKING. This way it gets right back in the car when I go out. Also, and I am a fusspot about such things, having a bag that one likes is essential. I have a variety of vessels, but try to keep that number under control as well because too many reusable bags becomes its own problem. My collection includes a German nylon bag, surprisingly large, that folds into its own small pouch and fits in my purse, as well as the classic floppy canvas bags, an over-the-arm market basket, and Russian linen string bags that magically coil up into a palm-sized skein. All washable -- necessarily, seems to me.

Popular among us for a while now is Trader Joe's blue and green plastic-coated canvas one. It has very sturdy handles, a flat bottom (ooh er missus) and enough structure to stand up by itself, making it very easy to pack. Holds a ton. Even Ivan took to it right away, which has been, shall we say, not exactly the case with all the other bags in the world. The $25 raffle is small incentive since I never win, but the bag gets taken into all sorts of stores besides Trader Joe's, some of whom credit a nickel, so after a mere 500 visits to these other stores I'll earn that $25 myself! Take that, TJ. One lives in each car.

What are your thoughts, Hobson?


Priscilla

Writer, cook, & c. ● #TacoFriday observant ● Twitter Instagram

 

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i am really trying to institute a "byo" habit. i have found that if i put the bags in the back of my car, more than half the time, i forget them. now that i put them on the passenger floorboards, in my plain view, it's harder to forget them. my trader joe's (where i do a lot of my shopping) has a nice colorful sign over the shopping cart area, reminding me (and, i suppose, others...but i like to think it's there as my personal memory-jogger) to bring them. but the thing that has helped me most is this: if i forget them, and i remember while in line, i make myself get out of line (no "will you save my spot?") and go get 'em out of the car....this little self-imposed penance is paying off, because i'm getting much better at remembering them now.

one other trick is that i pick up one or two pretty ones when i travel...they are useful for wrapping stuff to take home, and as laundry bags during a trip, and then, once home, they remind me fondly of my travels...i have quite the eclectic assortment of bags, and hope to add a new orleans one soon, when i go to iacp.


"Laughter is brightest where food is best."

www.chezcherie.com

Author of The I Love Trader Joe's Cookbook ,The I Love Trader Joe's Party Cookbook and The I Love Trader Joe's Around the World Cookbook

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ChezCherie, yes, even the back seat was out of sight out of mind. I keep it behind the passenger seat and usually not forget, but it has taken a long time and I do recidivate occasionally.


Priscilla

Writer, cook, & c. ● #TacoFriday observant ● Twitter Instagram

 

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i like to think it's there as my personal memory-jogger) to bring them. but the thing that has helped me most is this: if i forget them, and i remember while in line, i make myself get out of line (no "will you save my spot?") and go get 'em out of the car....this little self-imposed penance is paying off, because i'm getting much better at remembering them now.

o\

Now, that's self-discipline, and I'm going to try it. (If I remember to!) Great idea.


Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."

Studs Terkel

1912-2008

A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites

margaretmcarthur.com

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Here's one idea I read about, last week. Great idea--if you have the time...and like to crochet.

OK, anyone who knows me could predict that I'm already cutting up plastic bags and making the "yarn." I'll post pictures when I'm finished.


Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."

Studs Terkel

1912-2008

A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites

margaretmcarthur.com

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I try to use my reuseable bags and usually remember to bring them with me...the problem is that the way the grocery store I go to is laid out, I usually exit where there are only self-serve kiosks. And since I only ever have a basket's worth of stuff, I like using them. But you can't use reuseable bags with them (well, not very easily because they don't fit on the carousel well) so unless the lines are huge I usually just go through the manned checkout :huh:


Kate

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As well as making suggestions about the practical steps we're using to reduce plastic bag blight, perhaps it would be fun to record the approximate numbers of plastic bags we haven't used today. Nothing like that sense of self-satisfaction about doing something really green and important, and perhaps a friendly spirit of competition, as well as hints from our peers here, can make a difference. It might be fun to check out the metrics after a year.

So: If you faithfully remembered to take your reuseable bags to the grocery store, you can estimate how many plastic bags you saved. If you got the bagger to combine three plastic bags into one, you've spared two bags. If you've asked the checker to pack fifty pounds worth of groceries and wine into a wine carton(or a laundry basket in your trunk) , go ahead and SWAG the numbers of bags you've saved or recycled.

I'll go first. I have recycled twenty plastic bags today, because of the crocheted bag post from Rehevot. In fact, it will be a work in progress because I'll have to beg extra bags from friends to finish the project! I refused one bag at Walgreen's and took the printer cartridges home in my purse.

So on the Plastic Bag Sanctity Index today: my score is 21.


Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."

Studs Terkel

1912-2008

A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites

margaretmcarthur.com

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Since I don't have a car, it's easy to remember my bags. After you walk home once with plastic bags tearing into your hands, you've got a lot of incentive to remember to bring a *good* bag. I use a backpack, since it makes walking with a grocery load more comfortable. And having plastic bags dangling from my bike handlebars is scary enough to make me walk. Panniers or baskets to keep them out of my wheels are *much* better.

Store staff *really* appreciate it if you're willing to load the bag yourself. It can be hard for them to figure out the ins and outs of all the bags that cross their path. A regular canvas bag is easy enough, but backpacks and panniers and duffels can have so many pockets and tricks for loading...

I started doing this in 2005, so I have *no* idea how many bags I've saved since then. By now it's habit. Eliminating all plastic packaging isn't realistic, but I am doing much better than in 2004.

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Where I have lived in Germany and Switzerland they don't provide bags, and they don't bag your groceries for you either. You can buy bags if need be, in case you stop in unprepared. But normally everyone brings their bags, carts, boxes, etc with them. And you can't complain about the baggers - you do it yourself and you better be fast.

I have a little 2-wheeled cart to haul my groceries - we call them kartoffelporsches, or potato Porsches. Most men, and most women under 60, wouldn't be caught dead with one. I drag mine around proudly!

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Here's another crafty bag idea that I've been dying to try: Turning plastic bags into sewable fabric

It uses up a lot of bags in one go and people have made some adorable and more durable bags out of the "fabric."

As for practical habits, I have a new car after my beloved Jetta was totaled and I've put my grocery store reuseable bags in the trunk grocery organizer. Not sure if it will work yet as it's not been a full week. We'll see!


"Vegetables aren't food. Vegetables are what food eats."

--

food.craft.life.

The Lunch Crunch - Our daily struggle to avoid boring lunches

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Not to hijack this into a craft topic, but I thought I'd report on my Plastic Bag Sanctity index: I recycled about twenty more bags into a much funkier version of the project upthread. What with being careful about taking my cloth bags to the grocery store, I'm officially out of raw materials. The swatch below is about 7x20. If we're very good, it might never get finished!

gallery_6375_3224_560926.jpeg


Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."

Studs Terkel

1912-2008

A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites

margaretmcarthur.com

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Very interesting, this and the plastic bag sewable fabric.

We already recycle plastic bags as garbage bags (our under-sink area is tall enough only for a large wastebasket, so the plastic bags from supermarkets work perfectly) and to pick up after the dog. On another message board, one mom reminded me of another use, to line snowboots (or serve as improvised ones) on wintery days. We've also used tome to protect casts & bandages during showers, but hope that won't become a regular use! :raz:

Spurred on by this thread and the other, however, I picked up some of those humongous reusable shopping bags at Costco the other day. A threepack for a little over $3, and they're big enough and sturdy enough (Costco claims they'll hold 70 pounds, which I'll never get to find out as I can't carry 70 pounds) to hold club-sized packages. I also used mine the other day to transport a 13 x 9" baking pan to a potluck. For easy transport, they have both hand-handles and shoulder straps made of sturdy webbing, and I highly recommend them. It took me a couple of trips to remember, but they're now living in the trunk of the car.


SuzySushi

"She sells shiso by the seashore."

My eGullet Foodblog: A Tropical Christmas in the Suburbs

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I keep them neatly folded into one bag in the car. When I get a bag emptied of the days goodies, I hang it on the door handle, that way it is hard for me to forget to take it back to the car the next time I go out.


It is good to be a BBQ Judge.  And now it is even gooder to be a Steak Cookoff Association Judge.  Life just got even better.  Woo Hoo!!!

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I just gathered and washed all my canvas bags ..some are over 15 years old I realized as I was looking at them!

they are visable in the car now

thank you much for starting this a nudge back on track is good!

:smile:


why am I always at the bottom and why is everything so high? 

why must there be so little me and so much sky?

Piglet 

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Well bless my stars, Lookie what I just found on the Wal=Mart web site.

1 Million Reusable Bag Give Away

As part of Earth Month 2008, Wal-Mart will be giving away a million custom-made reusable shopping bags on Saturday, April 19 at 8AM Local Time.*

Plastic bags can take as long as 1,000 years to degrade. Wal-Mart sells reusable shopping bags made from recycled materials you can use instead, for just $1.

*While supplies last.

I just might drop on by, oh wait, I will be in San Angelo, TX for the National Ceramics Competition at the museum there. Surely there is a Wal-mart in San Angelo that I can go by. Now to find a place for a nice dinner that weekend.

It is good to be a BBQ Judge.  And now it is even gooder to be a Steak Cookoff Association Judge.  Life just got even better.  Woo Hoo!!!

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Maggie, nice crochet.

I avoided a plastic bag the other day buying a chunk of fresh ginger -- weighed it at self-checkout, paid a few coins into the machine, and had just it and my receipt to carry.

Yes, and on the self-packing subject, if it's not already being done by someone else I do that all the time. Just can't see standing there doing nothing when I can move things along and complete the transaction.


Priscilla

Writer, cook, & c. ● #TacoFriday observant ● Twitter Instagram

 

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It's been about a year since the City of San Francisco passed it's law banning the large supermarket and drug chains from using plastic bags.

NPR article about the bag ban

I live outside of the city, so I don't grocery shop in SF often. It would be interesting to hear from people who do shop there all the time.

I am also a big fan of the large blue/green crazy printed Trader Joe's bags, and I also keep them in my car. I take them to other stores and the checkers sometimes comment on them. "What a nice bag! Oh it's from Trader Joe's".

Never won the $25 raffle either, but I keep putting in my ticket.

On a somewhat related topic, there is also a move here in SF to use the biodegradable utensils at the nicer take out places and to use paper/cardboard take out boxes instead of plastic/styrofoam.

I love those biodegradable spoons and forks, I wash them and save them to use when cooking in a nonstick pan.


Edited by PamelaF (log)

Pamela Fanstill aka "PamelaF"

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Not to hijack this into a craft topic, but I thought I'd report on my Plastic Bag Sanctity index: I recycled about twenty more bags into a much funkier version of the project upthread. What with being careful about taking my cloth bags to the grocery store, I'm officially out of raw materials. The swatch below is about 7x20. If we're very good, it might never get finished!

gallery_6375_3224_560926.jpeg

sooo how is the bag coming along?


why am I always at the bottom and why is everything so high? 

why must there be so little me and so much sky?

Piglet 

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I bought a couple of sturdy bags at the drugstore with a zipper pocket on one side and an open pocket on the other - handy for coupons, sunglasses, paperback book, etc., and I just fit one down inside the other. I shop daily (getting in a nice walk with a purpose) so I rarely need more than these two bags. I find the 99 cent bags the stores sell to be too flimsy (the seams rip right out) and too large. The store clerks do indeed appreciate it if I bag my groceries myself, and that's fine with me.

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I try to keep a few of the Trader Joe's bags in each of our vehicles.

These are great bags by the way - easily hold thrice the weight that paper bags would and probably 3-4 times the volume that those evil plastic jobbies do.


Jon

--formerly known as 6ppc--

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So I finally made the jump and bought some BioBags for our pet's waste (drugstore.com is running a buy one, get one at 50% off deal right now). I always justified my use of plastic grocery bags because we needed something to dispose of the daily kitty litter scoopings.

Now I need a replacement for my plastic grocery bags. I'm contemplating a basket - anyone use one? They are so cute, just not sure if they are more/less practical than a reusable bag (there are just two of us so we don't have huge grocery trips).

Reisenthal Basket

Metro Basket

Anyone have any experience with these?

I'm also looking at ecobags.com for mesh produce bags.

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Not to hijack this into a craft topic, but I thought I'd report on my Plastic Bag Sanctity index: I recycled about twenty more bags into a much funkier version of the project upthread. What with being careful about taking my cloth bags to the grocery store, I'm officially out of raw materials. The swatch below is about 7x20. If we're very good, it might never get finished!

gallery_6375_3224_560926.jpeg

sooo how is the bag coming along?

It's about a foot long now, and is the final resting place of too many bags to count. It's amazingly tough -- when the Big One happens, all that will be left on earth are cockroaches and this strip of crochet.

(I got new "yarn" today. Someone, not I, forgot to put the fabric bags in his car.)

gallery_6375_3224_281269.jpeg


Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."

Studs Terkel

1912-2008

A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites

margaretmcarthur.com

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Now I need a replacement for my plastic grocery bags. I'm contemplating a basket - anyone use one? They are so cute, just not sure if they are more/less practical than a reusable bag (there are just two of us so we don't have huge grocery trips).

Reisenthal Basket

Metro Basket

I carry a lot of items in seagrass tote baskets with two handles. like these They are quite easy to carry when full; look for shapes which allow for stacking when empty.

The Metro Picnic Basket seems to be insulated, and so would make a good choice for warm weather shopping.


Karen Dar Woon

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I try to keep a few of  the Trader Joe's bags in each of our vehicles.

These are great bags by the way - easily hold thrice the weight that paper bags would and probably 3-4 times the volume that those evil plastic jobbies do.

Really, if I had considered this simple fact I would have switched to reusable bags eons ago. I just picked up two a couple weeks ago at the Wegmans, and they really do hold vastly more than the plastic bags, and the handles are more comfortable to boot. I went from needing maybe 10 plastic bags on an average trip to filling just the two re-usable bags. Now I just need to come up with a solution for produce. At Wegmans you weigh stuff and print out labels yourself, so it needs to be something I can stick a label on, and then peel off easily later. What do you all do?


Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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