Monday, February 9, 2009

Going Green: Reusable Bags

OK, so we’re going to start off simple. As I mentioned last week, when beginning your green transformation, it’s best to start with easy things. So let’s start with one of the easiest things to do – reusable bags! This was the first thing I did. If you are wondering why EVERYONE should have reusable bags, here are a few facts about plastic bags from

  • Each year, an estimated 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags are consumed worldwide. That comes out to over one million per minute. Billions end up as litter each year.
  • According to the EPA, over 380 billion plastic bags, sacks and wraps are consumed in the U.S. each year.
    Environmental Impact
  • Hundreds of thousands of sea turtles, whales and other marine mammals die every year from eating discarded plastic bags mistaken for food.
  • Plastic bags don't biodegrade, they photodegrade - breaking down into smaller and smaller toxic bits contaminating soil and waterways and entering the food web when animals accidentally ingest.
Alright, now we know WHY we need reusable bags, so where do you get them? The answer: anywhere! Most if not all supermarket chains have their own they sell, as do national retailers like Target and WalMart. What’s nice about these is they are usually only about 99¢! A small price to pay for keeping hundreds of plastic bags out of circulation! The bags I get the most use out of are the ones I got at Stop & Shop, where I do all of my grocery shopping. We are on a pretty tight budget and I got all 6 of my Stop & Shop bags for FREE. That’s right, FREE! As I mentioned, they are only 99¢ to begin with, so I would have paid that anyway. But during the week of Earth Day 2008, they were giving them away if you spent a certain amount of money. So I jumped on the chance for free bags and have been using them every week since. It’s been 10 months and they are still going strong! I also want to mention that Stop & Shop also pays you to bring in your own bags. Doesn’t matter what kind of bag, you can even bring in old plastic bags, and you will get 5 cents back for each. So that usually saves me about 25¢ off each shopping trip. If I had paid for them, I would have earned back the money spent in only 6 months. How can you beat that?

There are also probably hundreds of fashionable and trendy bags you can purchase online. Check out websites like (lots of brands, $4 to $45), ($5 to $10 each), ($6 to $12 each), ($8.95 each) or simply do a web search! All of these are super cute! Target even has some cool ones. The first bags I ever bought were Chico Bags. I lucked out and was able to get them discounted through a co-op run on my online mommy board: The MamaSphere. They come in a bunch of great colors and fold up into themselves for easy travel. These days I use them for diapers and snacks when I’m out and about with the kids. Regular diaper bags don’t fit in my double-stroller. Plus the blue bag matches perfectly with the blue stroller! When I remember to, I also bring these into WalMart and Target. Notice I said remember to. This is one of my Green Goals for 2009, to bring reusable bags everywhere!

These days everyone is on a tighter budget, so maybe you really don’t want to spend any money on bags right now. Well hey, that’s OK too! Just bring whatever plastic bags you have in your house to the store instead. Keep reusing them until they start to break and than throw them in your recycling bin (most are recyclable these days, but check with your recycling company). While you’re doing this, then maybe you can buy one 99¢ bag a month to slowly build up your stock. After a few months you will be all set!

Don't Forget
It is easy to forget your bags when you are running out the door, unfortunately I have done this quite a few times. So now after I empty them, I put them in the basement in front of the garage door so I walk by them every time I go shopping. I have not forgotten them since doing this. Even better would be to actually go and put them back in your car so they are always there. Now you just have to remember to bring them into a store!

Your Challenge
I want you to go to your grocery store to see if they do sell their own reusable bags and find out if they have any kind of incentive like money back. If you find a store that gives incentives, then come back and tell us about it!

I want to hear from you!
If you already have some reusable bags, tell us what kind you have and how many. Or if you don’t have any yet but are buying some soon, tell me what you plan to buy. And if you have any ideas for how to use your bags or reuse plastic ones, share them here!


  1. I've been meaning to start with reusable bags. I need to take the suggestion to buy one every time I go shopping until I have enough for a whole shopping trip.

  2. Add it your grocery list so you do not forget!

  3. I love the Target bags, they are bright red, the largest, and most durable so far!

  4. You have a great blog! Your SIL referred it from the nest, and I have enjoyed reading it.

    I am an Independent Watkins Associate, and Watkins just came out with a new reusable bag that is great! It holds 20 lbs worth of stuff, and it's a nice Martha Stewart-y celery green color.

    They have been such a huge hit that they are temporarily out of stock. Once they restock, I plan to feature them in a blog giveaway soon so maybe you or your readers could win one! My blog is I'll be sure to let you know when I start my giveaway.

    As of now they are available through associates only, but I'm hoping they open it up so that the public can purchase them soon, as well. They are $3 each, plus shipping. If anyone is interested I would be happy to help you out! :o)

  5. Thanks Beth! I can't wait to hear more about the bags, I'm following your blog! And I am off to learn more about Watkins.....

  6. Hi Marianne,
    I've been trying to use the reusable bags too but I'd constantly forget to take some every time I went out. Nowadays, I leave a bunch of bags in both the cars, so there's always some available at hand. I use a lot of other cloth bags besides the grocery store ones. I even use the blue IKEA bags to grocery shop.

  7. I have a Flip & Tumble in my bag, that I got from Stubby Pencil Studio. It is small, so I can just toss it in my bag. And since it is always with me, I never forget it during a quick stop! No more plastic for me!

  8. I just recently got some from Whole Foods. Awesome because they are made from 80% recycled material plus when I was there they had a promotion going that for every bag sold, they would plant a tree in the area! Cant beat that! Plus they were only 99 cents. Very cute as well, my favorite bags I own!


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