Using cloth shopping bags should be easy, right? Well, not so fast. Using cloth shopping bags actually has to become a routine. When I made the commitment to use reusable shopping bags, I realized I better have a plan or I would never be able to make it the habit it needed to be.
Confession time. Before I started using cloth bags, I was a bit lazy about unloading groceries that didn’t need to be in the refrigerator. As a friend once told me, domestic goddess I am not. I did keep plastic bags and reuse them for trash, kitty litter and other things but they seemed to multiply.
Have you ever noticed that? The more you save them the more they seem to propagate. I would become overwhelmed with all the bags and with no way to use them all I would clean them out when they were overflowing and yep, you guessed right. Off to the landfill they would go. I shudder to think about it.
There are actually two levels to training yourself. Both levels are included here.
Here’s how I trained myself to use them in four simple steps.
- The minute I come home all the bags get emptied.
- I put all the bags into one of the bigger bags and hang it on the front door. If I don’t hang them on the front door, then I forget to put them in the car.
- When I first started, I would leave the bags on the front seat. Because if they weren’t front and center in my mind then I forgot to take them into the store with me. If you don’t carry them in with you then you think about them at the check-out counter and then it’s too late. So, put them some place visible until you become so accustomed to carrying them it becomes muscle memory.
- After it became a real habit I could put them in the trunk of the car, because caring them into the grocery store became such a habit that I can’t get 3 feet from the car without grabbing them. Woot!
The grocery store of course is the place we go the most. I have got that down, but especially during the holiday season we need to think beyond the grocery store. So, I am slowly but surely training myself to take them to the mall with me. Think about all the ridiculously over-sized bags you get in the mall from a harried clerk because they ran out of small or medium bags. It would be such a help to the clerk to hand over your bags. If you don’t have the bags with you, think about hand carrying it out or putting it in your purse or in a toddler bag if your kids are small. The idea being who needs one more thing to deal with during the holidays.
Other tips? Ask for paper over plastic. Paper bags can be recycled in numerous ways and are much less impact on the planet then plastic. Let’s get some muscle memory happening and start carrying those reusable shopping bags.
We downloaded this graphic. Please note: we trust the facts but do not endorse all the strategies given to solve the problem. Individual responsibility and practicing stewardship are key steps to answering God's call to care for creation. If the 70% of Americans who identify as Christians practiced using less disposable plastic bags what a witness and difference that could make.