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Impact of plastic bag ban?

Hello left coast! Here in NYC we are considering not a ban of plastic bags, but a charge for them. My local Community Board (I’m a member) is weighing in, and I thought Chowhounds would be a good source of info from a place that’s gone even further. What’s been the experience/reaction from this broad group of thoughtful people who presumably buy a fair amount of food? Not looking for statistics (though that would be nice); more just the anecdotes. Is it a big deal? Have your attitudes and behaviors changed since the ban went in place? Sorry to the moderators if this is too tangential!

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  1. we have this in downtown seattle (bags are charged for). it's not a big deal. my behavior has changed in that i now almost always remember to bring my reusable bag with me. it's honestly not a big deal. the charge for a bag is, i believe, about 5-10 cents. my biggest complaint is that i have a cat, and i used to use grocery bags for cleaning the litter box. now, i just use produce bags (no charge for those).

    22 Replies
    1. re: chartreauxx

      Glad to see you mention the kitty litter as I wondered about that. I switched to canvas bags years ago...but still occasionally shop without them for exactly that reason. I need the plastic bags for pet waste (dog and cat). It rankles me to ~buy~ new, unused bags for that purpose.

      1. re: pedalfaster

        With you all the way about new bags for old poop! I'm in SF and periodically get a supply of plastic shopping bags from my corner store. By law, they are allowed to use bags purchased before the ban until their supply runs out, but the owners decided against it because of all the potential misunderstandings and buttinskys. Meanwhile, I get to feel slightly illicit (ooh- bag stash, man, cool!) and my litter boxes are empty of ick. Maybe a well-placed inquiry would do it for you.

        1. re: monfrancisco

          Yes, but not just kitty litter. At least you can improvise with that at home.

          Where I walk my dog in town, you HAVE to carry plastic bags to clean up after them. Signs all over " it's the law" every hundred yards. I am having a hard time finding plastic bags to reuse. I now have to buy them. My dog is like a play-doh machine on a walk :/

          1. re: sedimental

            I see people around here using newspaper bags (long, skinny, plastic) for play-doh (!) pick-up. The fact that it hasn't rained in about fifty years doesn't stop them putting the paper in a bag every day, but that's a different topic. As is the fact that only dinosaurs get the paper delivered...

              1. re: GH1618

                Sorry, let me clarify-- my paper is waiting for me out front every morning at 6:00!

                1. re: monfrancisco

                  Thanks for the clarification fellow dinosaur!
                  And yes we have noticed those bags and save them for pet-use as well. I actually get kind of grumpy when I find rips/holes in said bags.

                  1. re: monfrancisco

                    My paper(s) :-).
                    3 of them and I love them.

              2. re: sedimental

                A friend carries newspaper sheets, folded in quarters, and scoots the paper under her dog's butt as soon as he assumes the position. These get gathered up and put into a plastic produce or grocery bag which she knots and tosses into the garbage can when she gets home. This is a better clean-up than the bag-gloved hand, which can't do a thorough job if the deposit isn't completely formed.

                Of course, these days not too many people still subscribe to newspapers..... you could always save the supermarket flyers and other larger junk mail pieces.

                1. re: greygarious

                  My green neighbor buys the packaged wet wipes and actually cleans her dogs butts on the walk…
                  It's a sight to behold.

                  1. re: latindancer

                    oh, FFS. Seems the green is little faded, there....

                  2. re: monfrancisco

                    i have two dogs.
                    when i knew the bags were going to be banned, i enlisted three of my pet-less friends to save me all the plastic bags from their households in anticipation of the ban.

                    the sheer volume of plastic bags that were generated by our four households in the two month period prior to the ban was astounding. i have suitcases and cardboard boxes in the garage completely STUFFED with these things. up until seeing this with my own eyes, i had been pooh-poohing the ban. now, i see things very differently.

                    1. re: westsidegal

                      Except that you will find those bags DO degrade.

                      I have no idea why everyone says they will last forever; if they did, I could store everything in my garage and outdoors in those bags and not have to purchase plastic containers. Outside and in the car, they fall to pieces within two months; I've tried it with my 'earthquake kit'.

                      1. re: Cathy

                        This is why:

                        While the bags might fall apart and shred, the plastic the bags are made from doesn't magically vanish into thin air (first law of thermodynamics). I look forward to the day when all Americans realize that the planet belongs to all of us who live on it, and isn't only a resource to be exploited and dumped on to make a few zillionaires even richer.

                  3. re: pedalfaster

                    Many parks provide doggie waste bags. My apartment complex does as well. You can also go to the dollar store and buy a pack of 3 rolls of waste pick up bags. The rolls are about the size of a C battery. The bags are thin but hopefully your dogs aren't producing so much waste that it would be a problem.

                    1. re: ohmyyum

                      the bags at our dog park are a nice heavy weight -- but jiminy -- they're scented with a horrible scent that I can't stand to have in the house, so I can't keep any on hand.

                    2. re: pedalfaster

                      I just ran out of my stash of old plastic grocery bags, and had to buy brand-new small bin-liners for kitty litter for the first time in my life. It hurt me in all my penny-pinching places.

                    3. re: chartreauxx

                      I also now use produce bags for cat litter. We don't have a plastic bag ban here in all stores, but I try to remember to keep my reusable bags in the trunk. Plus, most of them have handles that make it so much easier to bring the groceries in with them thrown over my shoulders.

                      1. re: chartreauxx

                        I am not a dog or cat owner, and yes, this definitely is not about food, but you can buy diaper sacks, 100 for a buck or so, that would also serve this purpose.

                        To OP - Moved back to US from Europe a decade ago. At that point they were already using canvas bags and charging for plastic, so I was in the habit... but those first few years back in my Midwestern town I was the oddball at the store with my Tengelmann and Aldi bags. Cashiers didn't know what to do. Thank goodness times are changing. I think it's a great idea and should be de rigueur everywhere. I think the impact is only positive.

                      2. Not in SF but in Seattle, there have been no plastic bags for a while. (Well, except for the produce ones which IIRC are biodegradeable) There are paper bags only and if you get one, you're charged five cents. I think it's a great thing. It's not the nickel but the fact that it draws your attention to what you're doing. More than once, when we forgot our totes, we'd just carry the few items out. I wish they would do this where I live (Reno/Lake Tahoe).

                        Looking forward to hearing the SF CHs thoughts.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: c oliver

                          some stores have slightly more expensive, reusable plastic bags available in addition to paper. actually, most do. but they are 1) more expensive, and 2) must be reusable.

                          1. re: c oliver

                            I agree with this. It makes you think about what you are doing. There's no plastic bag ban where I live but my family and the company my husband works for are in Oregon where there is one so between the two of us someone is up there 8-10 times per year. I literally heard the aha moment from the husband. He was on the phone with me grousing about the bag ban and saying he had just carried his item out, then there was a pause and he said "but, but I guess maybe I didn't need a bag for one printer cartridge, did I?"

                            1. re: ErnieD

                              At stores such as Walgreen's, OfficeMax and other places where my purchases are usually few, I always refuse the proffered plastic bag.

                          2. You get in the habit of bringing reusable bags. It can be annoying when you forget.

                            10 Replies
                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                              i amassed quite a collection of those cloth bags as i was getting in the habit of remembering! i forgot all the time at the beginning. still have about a million cloth bags in my closet... :-)

                              1. re: chartreauxx

                                I'm ever so slightly peeved by the over-production and over-distribution of these re-usable bags. Kind of defeats the sustainability rationale for them if they are given away free and we all end up with an over supply! I recently gave half my collection to a friend who somehow was in need of them.

                                1. re: BernalKC

                                  i use them for a lot of things: picnics, camping, overnight stays at my parents', that kind of thing.

                                  1. re: chartreauxx

                                    no kidding -- somehow more of mine are in use hauling other stuff than they are hauling groceries.

                                  2. re: BernalKC

                                    so they still didn't go to waste, and saved your friend buying, and thus duplicating, the supply....

                                    1. re: BernalKC

                                      The real problem is ocean pollution. We are ruining ecosystems with our thoughtless consumption.

                                          1. re: The Professor

                                            Not only. Lots of countries are contributing to the continent of plastic.

                                          2. re: Josh

                                            Maybe we are just to lazy to dispose of trash properly, like let's re-cycle.

                                    2. I like the reusable bags much better than the brown grocery bags or the plastic ones. They are much stronger and you don't have to worry about the bag ripping open or those paper handles giving way spilling all of your groceries.

                                      1. lived in Europe for a few years -- you'll be amazed at how fast it becomes no big deal.

                                        Yeah, you forget bags once in a while -- disposable bags are dirt-cheap and can be reused if you have dogs, cats, or kids -- and you need a crap ton of reusable ones because they tend to walk away being used for picnics, trips to the park, hauling stuff to school, etc., etc., etc.

                                        Right now I switch back and forth -- we have two dogs, so we recycle the disposable ones, but when we get a good stockpile I switch back to the reusable ones.

                                        I try to always keep one or two reusable in the car, and carry one of the small cloth ones in my handbag for quick trips.

                                        1. They aren't banned here but I stopped using disposable bags years ago. My mom always used her own bags, she started when she moved to Italy in the 80's and kept doing back in the states. As other posters noted it easily becomes a habit.

                                          I sprung for a couple of the more expensive insulated bags from WF. They keeps foods cold but even better is WF replaces all their bags free of charge if they rip, break, etc.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: foodieX2

                                            having those insulated bags in the trunk of my car has meant that i can get many more errands done in one trip because i don't need to dash home to put the refrigerated/frozen food away.
                                            it had resulted in tremendous gas savings for me. i leave the house with those reusable sealed frozen packs in the insulated bag and can go for hours with all the refrigerated purchases in good condition when i finally get home.

                                            1. re: westsidegal

                                              you are a very smart shopper. that is exactly what we do, but we use rectangular insulated bags (kind of like the size and shape of a fishing creel). Our 'go with us everywhere' cloth bags are the largest canvas bags sold by LLBean. Dark color so they don't show the dirt, and dark colored straps for same reason.
                                              (you can mix and match body/strap color, so that's fun!)They are $40 but last forever. we use them when we travel as well.

                                          2. It's a bit of a nuisance, but not a big deal. I liked the plastic bags at checkout to use for my kitchen waste. Now, I buy boxes of larger, heavier plastic bags for the same purpose. For small plastic bags for wrapping certain things, I save the ones used in the produce section, which are still legal.

                                            I have several cloth bags for shopping, and only occasionally buy a paper bag. I prefer the cloth bags, actually.

                                            Whether the restriction has reduced the problem of bags being let loose in the environment, I can't say. It isn't clear which system is more friendly to the environment. It's political, I think.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: GH1618

                                              while Europe certainly has no shortage of litter and graffiti-- it is noticeable that none of it is plastic bags. No tattered bags waving from tree branches or fluttering from power lines.

                                              It's a small step, but it's one less class of trash that careless folks can strew around.

                                            2. In San Francisco, there is a ban on plastic bags and a mandatory 10-cent charge for paper ones. I don't mind paying 10 cents for a handle bag, but 10 cents for the tiniest brown paper bag is annoying.

                                              I much prefer how things work in some countries in Europe: High quality plastic bags that are charged accordingly. And by high quality, I mean much thicker plastic than the flimsy ones that Walgreens used to give you for free. The combination of higher quality and price means that they tend to get reused. And plastic bags can be useful for all kinds of purposes so every time I go to Europe, I will stock up.

                                              6 Replies
                                              1. re: nocharge

                                                YES -- European stores have three different types -- the thin type currently used in most US stores --

                                                -- a heavier plastic with rigid handles

                                                -- and the mack daddy -- a big tote bag with fabric handles that will carry 4-5 US grocery bags worth of stuff, and will continue to do so for a year or more. I brought home a big box of these, and LOVE them. (think a smaller version of the Ikea blue bags, with nicer designs)

                                                1. re: sunshine842

                                                  I despise the blue Ikea bags. They are shaped like a canoe.

                                                  1. re: John E.

                                                    That they are -- the European grocery bags are made of that same tarp-like material was my comparison, but the grocery bags are straight-sided and usually printed with nifty graphics - I have one with figs, one with strawberries, a couple with pop-art florals.

                                                    1. re: John E.

                                                      My thoughts exactly. I like corners. For that reason, my favorite reusable bag is Trader Joe's 99 cent bags. The cloth ones are too floppy.

                                                      1. re: ohmyyum

                                                        I have cloth ones with nice corners. One thing I need is fairly long straps as I live almost a km from Jean-Talon Market and often do a little trek there and to other shopping destinations. I'm much more comfy carrying weights on my shoulders (or back) than in my hands,. If Google Maps are accurate, my usual trek when I have time to do it is about 3,6km, though of course I also do longer ones.

                                                        1. re: lagatta

                                                          for long treks like that, I had a two-wheeled grocery trolley. Saved my back, especially since I lived uphill from the grocery.

                                                2. No ban on plastic bags here in Georgia, but we usually bring our green cloth Publix reusables when we shop. The plastic ones that do make it home go back to Publix and dropped into their recycle bins put there for that purpose.

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: grampart

                                                    I hate those -- they don't hold up for diddly!

                                                    Not picking on Publix -- I cannot imagine why the US groceries think that offering such a fragile (and small!) reusable bag is a good idea.

                                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                                      They may be a tad undersized, but ours have held up with nary a problem. Since Publix has bag boys/girls to take them to your car, the number of bags doesn't bother us at all. We live just a mile from the store and are in there 2 or 3 times a week so usually a couple bags do the trick.

                                                  2. In Alameda county there's a plastic bag ban and I believe the two alternative options are paper bags or heavy reusable plastic bags for .10¢ (which seems to be the store's choice).

                                                    At first it was a hassle but once you gather enough re-usable bags and stash them everywhere it's no biggie. Took about 2-3 months to get use to it. As others have mentioned, it's kind of a d'oh! moment when you forget one, or buy something when not specifically on a shopping run.

                                                    p.s. the next step in the process is likely a state-wide plastic bag regulation, to make it easier on everyone; merchants and consumers. As I understand it, this is something the grocery lobby asked for and it seems reasonable, and inevitable.

                                                    Legislation moving forward: http://www.mercurynews.com/business/c...

                                                    1. I concur with the general sentiment that its no big deal and you get used to it quickly. I was already in the habit of using cloth bags for most of my grocery trips. In fact, I now realize I was using re-usable bags about as much as I could beforehand. Now I find that I frequently choose to go without a bag and pay for 2-4 bags because I need them for recycling, clean-up, whatever. Still, I think its a laudable trend for shoppers to pay for what they consume. We waste too much and throw too much out. This is a painless way of making us slightly more mindful.

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: BernalKC

                                                        Not getting those large brown paper bags for daily use is the only downside to the ban. Those things are handy for so many uses. Makes a perfect recycling container for newspaper because it's recyclable itself. Somehow I can't pay .10¢ for a paper bag.

                                                        1. re: ML8000

                                                          <<Somehow I can't pay .10¢ for a paper bag.>>

                                                          that's the point

                                                      2. Not a big deal. Not a ban here in BC. But many have chosen to sell paper for 5 cents for reusable for 99c. I hate seeing the stacks of plastic bags at the end of tills destined for a landfill as most store don't offer a bag recycling depot even tho the bag says recyclable and the city dosnt take them in there recycling program. Shocked to see paper bags in walmart outside of seatlle. Very impressed I didn't know there was a ban in seattle but I thought walmart would have got out of it somehow.

                                                        1. In San Luis Obispo County, CA there's a ban on plastic bags and stores charge 10 cents for paper bags. I live just over the border in Santa Barbara County where there is no ban, but it's just a matter of time so I'm hoarding plastic bags to use for the litter box. I have a few cloth bags that I try to remember to bring into stores but I read something in passing that bacteria, mold and yeast gets built up in reusable bags and they need to be washed or tossed out periodically. I tried machine washing a Trader Joe's bag and it fell apart.

                                                          9 Replies
                                                          1. re: MysticYoYo

                                                            Bummer about your TJ bag.
                                                            I toss my freebies (suppose I am something of a hoarder) from Kroger, Target et al in the washer on a somewhat regular basis.

                                                            Good idea to wash the suckers. Good luck in the future.

                                                            1. re: MysticYoYo

                                                              I use paper bags for my litter. No need for plastic. I felt the same way but started using paper and found no issue.

                                                              1. re: daislander

                                                                The issue is the difference between litter and garbage. If I have trimmings from raw chicken, for example, they go in a plastic bag and I seal it by tying a knot in it. That way, they can sit around for a little while without smelling the place up. Some here may have only a few steps from the kitchen to a garbage can outside. I have to take the elevator down to a room with the compactor/dumpster, so it's not convenient to go there at the time the garbage is produced.

                                                                1. re: GH1618

                                                                  I remember those days of apadtment living, although I only lived in one apartment where I could take an elevator to the basement garage Dumpster. I lived in two towns where I had to take the trash to an out door dumpster, in Green Bay and Duluth, Minnesota. Thankfully, our large trash bin is now in our attached garage 10 feet from the kitchen sink.

                                                                  1. re: GH1618

                                                                    Same here I need those bags for meat scraps or the freezer fills up with them and I often forget to toss them.

                                                                    1. re: GH1618

                                                                      you prob have alrdy thought of this, but putting bags of stinky stuff into your freezer until you make one trip- is a good trick.

                                                                  2. re: MysticYoYo

                                                                    I take exception to the germaphobes who worry about washing reusable bags. Unless you don't use the produce department bags for your fresh fruit/veg, no food comes into direct contact with the reusable bag, so it's immaterial if the latter are brand new or old and soiled. I use a plastic reusable, from TJ's, for meat/seafood department items and deli counter bags, because I can clean inside the bag with a disinfectant wipe if something leaks. Other than that, I don't care what surfaces my reusable bags have touched.

                                                                    1. re: greygarious

                                                                      I suppose you could use that "germaphobe" epithet as a rationalization to avoid washing anything, ever. Ugh.

                                                                      The fact is that cloth grocery bags can harbor bacteria, some of which are dangerous. Washing the bags periodically is not indicative of a "phobia," it's just good hygiene.

                                                                      1. re: greygarious

                                                                        The good thing about the resuable bags is that they CAN be washed! If they get dirty, just toss them in the washing machine with your next load and out they come squeaky clean.

                                                                    2. but now if we could just re-train the baggers in the stores to stop putting one item per bag....

                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                                                        Can we also stop whole foods from putting a rubber and around everything.

                                                                        1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                          I just tell them I don't need one and they're happy to oblige. They said it's because they used to have customers complain about spills but I don't see how a single rubber band would help. Two, in an X would work much better but I digress...

                                                                      2. I have made an interesting observation where Iive in Minnesota. We have two major grocery store chains in the Twin Cities, not including Walmart and Target. They are 'bag your own' stores meaning the customer bags their own groceries. Both paper and plastic bags are available. I don't know what the breakdown is between paper and plastic.

                                                                        I have spent a bit of time in Arizona and noticed that most grocery stores have clerks bagging the purchases into plastic bags. The clerks use way more bags than I would if I were bagging it myself. I also see many more plastic bags as litter in Arizona than I do in Minnesota.

                                                                        We still get a few plastic bags for the litterbox but switched to mostly using reusable bags several years ago. We also are able to recycle plastic bags in our home recycling container. After emptying the groceries, the bags frequently have holes, so they get recycled (maybe they were overfilled?). The stores also have bins for recycling plastic bags.

                                                                        1. My parents live in Berkeley, and it's really not a big deal for them. They are now more likely to bring their own bags, but they don't mind too much if they have to pay the 10 cents at the store.

                                                                            1. It's not banned here yet, but such a ban wouldn't bother me, so long as there were bags for (reasonable) purchase. I try to remember to keep a reusable one in my purse or work bag but as someone who grocery shops without a car, I don't always have one (or more to the point, more than one) on me. I do use them exclusively for planned grocery shopping.

                                                                              So basically....I'd get used to this, with some hiccups. I don't think it's a bad idea.

                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                              1. re: LeoLioness

                                                                                Lioness, when I shopped without a car, I found that a larger handbag (mine was actually a big hobo bag that I could wear crossbody) was the answer. Small items like prescriptions could just go in the handbag, AND it had plenty of room for a couple of the small, collapsible nylon shopping bags for quick trips.

                                                                                1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                  I like those too, but I'm often also toting my laptop bag,so on those days I prefer a handbag I can carry to sort of balance me out.

                                                                              2. I'm in Ontario, and it's 5 cents a bag here. But oddly, only grocery stores. They still give out free bags at Walmart, Target, and other places.
                                                                                When I'm doing a regular grocery shop I remember my re-usables and I don't mind. When I pop in on the fly to pick up one thing and end up buying 2 or 3 plastic bags because there were such great sales, it irritates me but honestly it's a buck or two over the course of the year and whatever it was I got on sale usually more than pays for the bags. We do need the plastic bags for dog pickup so I find I'll go out of my way to get more than my share at Walmart or at places that have free bags and self checkout. A friend of mine always asks the places with free bags to 'double bag' it!

                                                                                So the logistics of bringing my own bags or paying when I don't have them is not an issue. What they really didn't think through when this was decided is how much time it would add to the lines in grocery stores. Previously, the cashier would have his/her stock of plastic bags in those metal holders and would scan and bag simultaneously. Now, my bags are often under all of my groceries so I have to unload everything before I can get at my bags. Or, the cashiers pile everything up at the end of checkout and only when they've finished scanning everything do they ask if you would like help bagging. But some of them don't even ask or help at all! It is as if once you bring your own bags, there is no responsibility for the cashier to bag your groceries. If you are bagging at the end of the aisle, you then have to go back around your cart to the centre of the aisle to pay at the debit/credit card machine. I would say the whole thing makes a grocery shop take twice as long as before which frustrates me to no end.

                                                                                8 Replies
                                                                                1. re: 16crab

                                                                                  It is typical in Twin Cities grocery stores for the checkouts to have two moving belts on the 'after scanned' part of the checkout parallel to each other. The cashier alternates which side the groceries are sent to. That way, one customer is bagging while a new customer is being checked out.

                                                                                  1. re: John E.

                                                                                    We have this as well - but with the cashiers not bagging at all, the first customer is often not finished bagging before the second is ready to begin and a third is now checking out. There is barely enough room for one shopping cart at the end of the aisle, let alone two.

                                                                                    1. re: 16crab

                                                                                      I might not have been clear. There are TWO conveyer belts that take customer's goods to TWO separate bagging spots. Two customers would have to be still bagging for things to back up. That can happen if there consecutive customers with completely filled up carts, but I have not seen that too often. People with a full cart tend to find a line where the person in front of them have the fewest items.

                                                                                      1. re: John E.

                                                                                        And at the Rainbow closest to us, the cashier will usually start bagging if someone is really behind and things are slowing down.

                                                                                        I prefer to bag my own stuff. That way I can sort by where it goes in the house, fridge, pantry, deep freeze, etc. I use mostly paper because we have to sort all of our recycling, so it's handy for that.

                                                                                        1. re: John E.

                                                                                          Yes, there are two conveyor belts but they are parallel and lead to the end of the aisle which is only wide enough for one shopping cart. Although I do my best to mid-week shop where it's less of an issue, any time on the weekend you tend to run into this. I think just condensed population leads to more crowded stores. Though this is in Alberta and it is kind of hard to see, this photo is pretty indicative of my grocery shopping experience on the weekend - although the full carts are generally lined up about 4 deep. You would be hard pressed to find someone in front of you that doesn't have a full cart - otherwise they would be in express or self-serve lanes.

                                                                                    2. re: 16crab

                                                                                      I'm in Ontario too, and agree it's no big deal. I bring reusables 95% of the time, even to places where bags are free. 16crab, I could not agree more about the issue with cashiers not helping bag! Why do they think it's perfectly acceptable to only help people who are buying plastic bags?!! It drives me bonkers. I've even tried 'casually' placing my empties on top of the groceries as they're going down the conveyor belt as a hint, but even that doesn't always work!

                                                                                      1. re: tinybites

                                                                                        That's very odd. Here in Montréal, the cashiers and baggers are eager to help with my cotton bags.

                                                                                        1. re: tinybites

                                                                                          I had to chuckle...this exact gripe was a topic in a letter to the editor in my little hometown newspaper. When I read it, it seemed to be responding to an earlier letter or editorial that I had not seen, but I couldn't find any earlier letter or editorial. Someone else responded to use a different grocery store, but in our little town there's 2 more upscale groceries, where the cashiers will only offer to bag every now and then, and 2 discount groceries, where they never offer to bag. At the beginning of checking out, they'll ask you if you need bags. If you've not brought any and are willing to pay the five cents, they hand you the empty bags and that's it!

                                                                                      2. I'm in California. I've always brought my bags back so not a big impact on grocery shopping. The odd thing is that now the *other* stores can charge for bags and are all too happy to do so.

                                                                                        This fact became clear the day I hit the Macy's sales and picked up a few new bras......

                                                                                        1. I'm in NYC. I recycle everything ... including HDPE shopping bags. I started recycling the bags because they add up so quickly! After only one shopping trip, I'm staring at almost 20 bags (ten bags doubled).

                                                                                          My district in NYC was assigned the task of composting in NYC. The program started out great, but it's now fading fast because residents have learned it is *voluntary*.

                                                                                          I shop at Aldi's, so I have to remember to bring shopping bags with me or be charged for them at the time of check-out. Aldi's 10-cent plastic bags are reusable and they are very durable. Ten cents is well spent for them. Considering how many plastic bags get WASTED in NYC, I am all for the *proposed* nickel a bag charge.

                                                                                          1. The largest grocery store in town has a sign with a fee for plastic bags yet they bag everything in plastic, not even sure if they have paper bags.

                                                                                            1. Back in the 1980s New Haven made the use of plastic grocery bags illegal (not produce bags). It was a bust and after a few years they were allowed again.

                                                                                              Some low price grocery chains, such as Price-Rite, a division of Shop-Rite charge for bags. I never pay for a bag. If I do go into to Price-Rite to buy OJ or Milk or produce, I go to the salad dressing aisle and consolidate a few boxes and use a now empty box for my groceries. Or, I take a few bags with me that originated in another supermarket. I don't use the reusable bags sold by stores. Instead I reuse the plastic bags for lining garbage cans, disposing of diapers, etc.

                                                                                              The nearby town of Westport, CT made use of plastioc bags by merchants illegal a couple of years ago. My reaction: If a branch of the store I want is also located in another nearby town, I don't shop in Westport. The law may be good for the environment, but not for the fiscal health of local merchants. There's another Walgreen's less than a 3 minute drive outside Westport Town limits heading east or west.

                                                                                              1. We use heavy duty canvas "boat bags" from LLBean. As a kid they were called "coal bags or ice bags" depending on the season.
                                                                                                We have yet to wash them yet, but I think they will hold up ok if they are air dried.
                                                                                                We pack them directly from the cart at the car, along with a cooler.

                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: Raffles

                                                                                                  We washed them last night and they came out better.

                                                                                                  1. re: Raffles

                                                                                                    we do exactly the same thing- the $40 largest sized ones. use them for everything. we also put a plastic rectangular 'fish bin' in the bottom of each bag (just the right size, a tight fit) to keep the canvas bag sides standing up.

                                                                                                    when you washed yours, did they get slumpy? we've never washed ours because we didn't want to remove the sizing from the canvas.

                                                                                                  2. I live in NYC and I would really hate to see a ban of plastic bags. I would pay the 5 or 10 cents to buy the bags if necessary but I think it's one of those things that may not have such a big impact on the environment but instead will make some people feel good about themselves. I don't see myself using the reusable cloth bags, for a variety of reasons. I've read studies that show that they breed bacteria and require frequent washing (how environmentally sound is that?) and I just don't want to have to deal with that. Also, my shopping tends to fall into two categories. I'm on foot, often coming after work or other errands and don't want to carry reusable bags around with me all day. My other shopping is done by car and then I'm buying in much greater quantities. I would need many reusable bags and I'm just not going to keep 10 or 12 clean reusable bags on hand.

                                                                                                    I reuse plastic bags for lots of things - as trash can liners in bedrooms and bathrooms, for quick garbage deposits when I'm cooking, for wet swimsuits in the summer, for picking up after my dog, for packing shoes when I travel, etc. I reuse paper bags to hold recyclables. A ban would not change my consumption habits, it would just force me buy plastic bags from Amazon (or the store). Because I would still need plastic bags for all the above-mentioned uses.

                                                                                                    8 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: angelhair

                                                                                                      The reports I see about bacteria in reusable bags on the web all trace back to a single study funded by a group called American Chemistry Council who were/are opposing the California efforts to limit plastic bags. I would be skeptical about this concern.

                                                                                                      As others have noted above, grocery stores use dozens of flimsy bags where 2-3 sturdy cloth bags will do. So its not a problem keeping a few tote bags in the car. As for casual shopping while walking around, you always have the option to buy a bag - $0.10 is not going to break the bank. There are also a lot of very stylish tote bags, Baggu for instance, that I see women wearing that totally solve the shopping while walking home problem.

                                                                                                      Also, there is no ban on plastic produce bags. So my supply of dog litter cleanup bags is unchanged. You'll have no problem with your wet bathing suits, etc.

                                                                                                      1. re: BernalKC

                                                                                                        That study was performed by university researchers in public health. Source of funding for the study is no reason to discredit the results. Much university research is sponsored by private parties who may have an interest in the outcome. That doesn't mean that the results will be jiggered to satisfy the client. To assume they have been in this case is to charge the researchers with professional misconduct, a serious matter.


                                                                                                        1. re: GH1618

                                                                                                          We have never washed our reusable bags and I don't worry about it. Whenever we buy a package of meat, it always goes into a plastic bag (the meat department has bags for this).

                                                                                                          1. re: GH1618

                                                                                                            Who funds the study is no reason to discredit the result, but highly relevant in reviewing the intent and relevance of the results.

                                                                                                            In this case a partisan lobbying group commissions a small study to show that reusable bags are dirty. Duh. Most people don't wash them. They also don't wash their pockets, their TV remotes, their wallets, nor their belly buttons. And each are infested with, *gasp*, bacteria.

                                                                                                            In the real world, I try to keep my bags clean. I try to avoid placing improperly wrapped meat in them, or other loose, messy groceries that I want to keep clean. The bags probably pick up some filth from resting on the counter, or on the floor. And yeah, I probably should wash them from time to time. But this is a non-issue, brought to you by people who stand to loose business.

                                                                                                            1. re: BernalKC

                                                                                                              you forgot to mention cell phones.
                                                                                                              read a hospital study once that showed that the cell phones/pagers carried around by hospital personnel were a major source of cross contamination.

                                                                                                            2. re: BernalKC

                                                                                                              Reusable bags are washable. I always immediately throw the bag that I transport meat in in the washer. Other bags get washed frequently.

                                                                                                              1. re: hala

                                                                                                                I got some very sturdy reusable bags ages ago, washed them regularly, but they started fraying/ripping at the seams. Since they seemed much thicker than the currently sold ones, I decided to sew 'em: used dental floss (the kind the dentist gives away, that I don't like) as the "thread" with a wide-eye needle. They've been holding up for years now.

                                                                                                          2. I was pissed when they instituted the ban in CA. I thought it was typical liberal BS and I wanted to use my damn bags. But now, a year or so in, I have to say I was entirely wrong. I don't even think about it anymore, and when I do, its more to reflect that wow, I never really needed to use all those plastic bags... Nowadays, I keep a resuable bag or two in my car and then whenver I do buy raw meats, I will ask for a paper bag. A true change for the better, imo.

                                                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: FattyDumplin

                                                                                                              Just imagine how much other "liberal BS" you're likely wrong about.

                                                                                                              1. re: Josh

                                                                                                                Haha, touche Josh. However, I am pretty rational and open to good ideas, so after much consideration, I've concluded most of the liberal BS is just that ;)

                                                                                                              2. re: FattyDumplin

                                                                                                                The ban is not in all of CA, at least, not yet. Still voluntary in most of San Diego county.

                                                                                                              3. I live near a city that has a ban on plastic bags. I have carried reusable bags for years because I thought it was the sensible thing to do, not because it was required. I like the heavier bags, I like not having a lot of plastic bags around (though I do need some plastic bags for the uses mentioned throughout this thread) and I like doing my small bit towards the environment.

                                                                                                                That said, the plastic bag ban pissed me off enough to where my passive-aggressive response is that I probably forget my bags on purpose a lot more often than I did before the ban.

                                                                                                                Not a mature response on my part, for sure. It is just my reaction to being legislated to do what I had already doing on my own for years.

                                                                                                                1. Plastic bags are not yet banned where I live, but there is talk about it and I bet that they will be soon.

                                                                                                                  I happen to like them, so when that happens, I will probably buy bulk plastic bags online and take my own plastic bags to the store.

                                                                                                                  Not a big fan of the reusable bags - I read something once that no one ever washes or cleans them so they are full of all kinds of bacteria, etc. Just my own feelings about it...

                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: Michelle

                                                                                                                    you have total control over your own reusable bags - if you feel the need to wash them, do so.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Michelle

                                                                                                                      I wash the cloth bags all the time :) When choosing a cloth bag, washability is one of the key criteria. As for the free bags, if it falls apart when washed, then at least I used it a few times first.

                                                                                                                    2. Plastic bags have never been banned in the cities/towns I have lived in. I like grocery plastic bags. Yes, I said it. I use them for garbage bags all the time. I have not used designed garbage bags for over 15 years now.

                                                                                                                      1. In San Francisco, no plastic and 10c for paper, and this is a pedestrian/public transportation city, not like I am putting stuff in the trunk of a car. I resent it every single time. I will buy only as much as I can carry or put in my pockets, so it is definitely reducing business for Safeway.

                                                                                                                        1. In this regard, Japan is confusing.

                                                                                                                          On one hand, you have neighbors who will display (real) ire if you are found to be placing rubbish/recyclables in the improper bin.

                                                                                                                          On the other, every little thing is individually wrapped, and then there's a bag for that, and then perhaps another. Is one of the issues here to maintain good hygiene? A better word for it is "excessive."

                                                                                                                          I noticed on a recent trip to Indonesia that food and non-food items are placed in separate bags. Yep, because I'm worried that my carton-sealed toothpaste is going to affect my tempeh. Ironically, it's more likely that placing certain fruit next to each other is the worse combination.


                                                                                                                          1. I've always preferred to use my own bags... they switched over in Australia about 20 years ago so it's what I'm used to. Plus, the reusable bags have much better carry handles (You can sling them on your shoulder instead of having to hang them over your arm and cut off your circulation.) and they hold more so you don't need to carry so many bags and they don't break and drop your purchases on the floor.
                                                                                                                            When I get too many or they start getting a little raggedy I donate them to the homeless so they can get maximum use.

                                                                                                                            1. I've switched to reusable. Litter was holding me back but I bought a litter genie (bought a new house and the trash bin is in the detached garage...not making 3 trips/day to empty litter) and am perfectly happy with the reusables. My favorite is an LL Bean tote that holds it's shape and carries about 3 grocery bag's worth.

                                                                                                                              1. We refuse plastic bags when possible and ask for paper. We use the paper bags for our recyclables. I do have some fabric shopping bags but I really find them awkward and clumsy.

                                                                                                                                1. I live in LA and they were banned many months ago.
                                                                                                                                  I puchased cloth bags, use them and keep them clean, and if I forget them in the car (which I do sometimes) I simply purchase paper ones for 10 cents.
                                                                                                                                  No big deal. I don't miss the plastic ones at all.

                                                                                                                                  1. I've been using cloth bags for decades. I always carry at least one around with me; some of them will fit in my shoulder bag. Why would one need a specific bag for cat litter? Doesn't it go in the rubbish bag like all other trash?

                                                                                                                                    If I set out to the market, I always have at least three cloth bags: two good sized ones and the "wine bag" with compartments for bottles. Not just for wine or fizzy water: good for anything jarred or otherwise fragile.

                                                                                                                                    Here in Montréal, most supermarkets charge for bags; I don't believe it is a law yet. We are not allowed to put our trash out in grocery bags: often people would put many of them out, which slows down the santitation workers, moreover they are flimsier and more likely to spill open and dirty the streets and pavements.

                                                                                                                                    In my borough, the recycling goes in a hinge-lidded bin; in some others, it has to be put in a transparent plastic bag: that is recycled as well, but does mean using a bit more plastic. It is easier to carry downstairs though.

                                                                                                                                    12 Replies
                                                                                                                                    1. re: lagatta

                                                                                                                                      Lagatta, where did you get the wine bag with the compartments? I would love to have one of those. I am in Ontario so perhaps we share some of the same stores.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: 16crab

                                                                                                                                        I bought it at the SAQ (Société des alcools du Québec) - our equivalent of the LCBO. Perhaps the LCBO sells them too?

                                                                                                                                        I've seen larger ones (with at least 6, or perhaps even 8 compartments) for sale at wine and spirits shops in Europe - never think to bring one back as I'm more interested in buying bicycle bags when I'm over there. They can be very useful for things other than glass bottles.

                                                                                                                                        We share many stores, but I haven't seen them at supermarkets such as Loblaws or Metro.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: lagatta

                                                                                                                                          Thanks - I will check LCBO next time I am there. It is quite possible they have them - I just never knew such a thing existed so never thought to look!

                                                                                                                                          1. re: 16crab

                                                                                                                                            I got mine from the LCBO. I also have several of their regular green-coloured shopping bags. All of their bags are really heavy duty and well made.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: 16crab

                                                                                                                                              Did find them at the LCBO - compartments for 6 bottles of wine, plus an empty space in the middle - big enough for a few bottles or cans of beer or a box or two of crackers. $1.49!

                                                                                                                                          2. re: 16crab

                                                                                                                                            Yikes. Is there a way to send you some?
                                                                                                                                            They seem to pile up here (Midwest US). We pick up those divided (sometime lightly padded) bags at grocery stores (Kroger, Marsh), drugstores, and liquor stores (local).
                                                                                                                                            As another poster mentioned they are great to reuse for just about anything packaged in glass (olive oil, salsa, jam/jelly).
                                                                                                                                            Also a good way to keep water-bottles cool for a picnic.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: pedalfaster

                                                                                                                                              I'm in the Northeastern US, and I don't ever recall seeing those "compartment" type bags anywhere. Perhaps in a mail order catalog (?), but never at the supermarkets, liquor stores, or otherwise. They're a great idea.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: Cheese Boy

                                                                                                                                                Here is CA I'm pretty sure I've seen them at BevMo, or maybe TJ's? They are for sale: http://www.customgrocerybags.com/cust...

                                                                                                                                                1. re: BernalKC

                                                                                                                                                  that's cool. i've never seen any here in New England. TrJ or anywhere. but then they prob sell them 5 minutes from here!

                                                                                                                                                2. re: Cheese Boy

                                                                                                                                                  Trader joes has them at the wine shop- they're about $1 and divided to hold six bottles of wine

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Ttrockwood

                                                                                                                                                    Ha. I'm always at TJ's Wines on 14th NYC, and I've never noticed those bags ever. I usually buy six bottles at a time ... so I'm kinda surprised a cashier hasn't steered me towards them.
                                                                                                                                                    I guess I need to be a little bit more observant next time and look beyond just the wine. : )

                                                                                                                                                  2. re: Cheese Boy

                                                                                                                                                    In LA Ralphs & Vons give them away for free

                                                                                                                                            2. There are plastic bag bans where I work (SF) and live (SF Peninsula area). If you don't bring your own bag, and want one, you have to pay $.10 per paper bag (they all have handles). I had been reusing old paper bags for years (I had 1 grocery bag that was about 10 years old!) and finally accumulated enough canvas and cloth bags to use for major grocery hauls. I still need plastic bags for small trashcans in the house, and reuse the ones I get from the farmer's market. Sometimes I will purchase a paper bag as I use those for recycling paper, tho I can commingle paper and cans/bottles in my recycle bin; the bag just makes it easier to collect all the paper that accumulates over time. Oh, and the large paper bags are good for hauling stuff to Goodwill.

                                                                                                                                              1. I have enough plastic bags from super markets etc to last me the rest of my life, I'm all set! They make good trash bags.

                                                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                1. re: treb

                                                                                                                                                  Right before the ban here in LA there were people reported taking those big rolls of plastic bags from the checkout counter and running off with them. Stealing them.
                                                                                                                                                  Nobody could figure out what they were doing with them. Ebay? Black market?

                                                                                                                                                2. I live in nyc and always have reusable bags with me.
                                                                                                                                                  The grocery cashiers are often pissed off at the fact i can't load groceries and pay simultaneosly and the few times i let them use my bags they weren't packed well and i ended up with mashed fruit.
                                                                                                                                                  The city needs a BAN, and to educate vendors how to use fewer bags! Everyone double bags the plastic bags since they are such crap so the number of bags used is astronomical.

                                                                                                                                                  All of that said i think nyc has to prioritize recycling first. There are minimal public recycling cans, or even in starbucks or the bagel shops. I walk by thousands of empty plastic and glass containers that are simply thrown in the garbage. I would vote for more recycling containers in public spaces and enforcement of fines for not recycling.

                                                                                                                                                  1. As a few of my fellow San Francisco based CHers have mentioned- we haven't had plastic bags here for a few years, with paper bags costing a dime apiece.

                                                                                                                                                    At first I thought it was going to be a PITA, but then it ended up working out to my advantage. I have a good quality burlap reusable (and washable) bag from Whole Foods that cost like...$7. Full, it fits 2 weeks of groceries for me (single dude).

                                                                                                                                                    The paper bags come in handy though- I use them as a garbage/recycle bag. I live in a large apartment building that has a garbage chute- and even when the paper bags are full they won't get stuck before reaching the ground floor. I haven't had to buy garbage bags ever since. I've actually thought about going to the grocery store, giving them 2 bucks and just asking for 20 bags. I feel like that might be tacky, though.

                                                                                                                                                    16 Replies
                                                                                                                                                    1. re: plaidbowtie

                                                                                                                                                      <I haven't had to buy garbage bags ever since>

                                                                                                                                                      That's nice but the sole purpose of me purchasing/using those big garbage bags is to be able to tie them up so nothing leaks out of them.
                                                                                                                                                      I put them in the big city bin knowing there's not garbage spilling out of them.
                                                                                                                                                      What do you do? Just let the garbage fly all over the place? That's gross.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                                                                        Generally, trash chutes are centered over an enclosed dumpster. The bags just go straight down into the dumpster so no mess.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                                                                          Fly? It doesn't have wings. It drops into the garbage can, where all the rest of the garbage is. I fail to see how that's gross at all.

                                                                                                                                                          Gross is having to un-stick someone else's giant bag at my floor.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: plaidbowtie

                                                                                                                                                            I was visiting a friend, who lives in an upscale high-rise, recently.
                                                                                                                                                            The parking garage was situated at the same level where the dumpster (that caught all the garbage from the upper floors) was situated.
                                                                                                                                                            The dumpster was in an enclosed area. I remember getting out of her car and the two of us gagged from the smell coming out of that dumpster.
                                                                                                                                                            Apparently, the problem stems from people who don't/won't enclose their garbage bags, in tied garbage bags, and so therefore all the garbage sits openly and rots. It was disgusting. The bins I dump my bags into are out in an open area and STILL if people don't dispose of their garbage properly, as I'm suggesting, there's an odor. The city in which I live requests that, even though the garbage goes into a communal bin, everyone please dispose of their own, properly enclosed. Otherwise it attracts coyotes, rats, mice, etc., AND it smells bad.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                                                                              I don't particularly feel the need to argue my waste disposal habits, because I've been doing this for years, along with many other residents in my building, to no ill effect.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: plaidbowtie

                                                                                                                                                                Strange. I've lived in several apartments with communal dumpsters and never had an issue with smells. They got emptied regularly. If there's a stench, that's just poor management by the office.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Hobbert

                                                                                                                                                                  Of course they get emptied regularly…trust me, this isn't a place where the management is poor or inattentive.

                                                                                                                                                                  This particular problem was stemming from a couple of residents who refused to enclose their garbage bags.
                                                                                                                                                                  The management, apparently, knew who they were and eventually they were forced to enclose their garbage.
                                                                                                                                                                  The problem went away.

                                                                                                                                                              2. re: latindancer

                                                                                                                                                                I have a neighbor who does the same exact thing. How difficult is it to close the top of your garbage bag? Close the bag !! You can't possibly be that lazy, right?

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Cheese Boy

                                                                                                                                                                  I think there's more to it than simple laziness…

                                                                                                                                                                  Entitlement? Thinking that once the garbage is out of sight it's someone else's problem?
                                                                                                                                                                  Who knows.

                                                                                                                                                                2. re: latindancer

                                                                                                                                                                  The problem is largely due to animals kept by residents.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: GH1618

                                                                                                                                                                    <the problem is largely due to animals kept by residents?

                                                                                                                                                                    Perhaps where you live but there's a very strict leash law where I live and nobody would allow their dogs to be out roaming around in the trash bins.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                                                                                      No, no. It's the cat ladies dumping their litter box contents in the trash.

                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: GH1618

                                                                                                                                                                      Litter? That would account for the stench. The last apartment I had enforced a pet fee but it was extremely cheap so tons of residents had pets.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Hobbert


                                                                                                                                                                        I see what GH1618 is referring to…

                                                                                                                                                                        Residents who keep pets and then dispose of their waste?
                                                                                                                                                                        That's another added problem altogether. Other than cats/litter which is its own mess and should absolutely be enclosed in a garbage bag, I've watched people who walk their dogs pick up the dog's waste with a paper towel and throw it in the closest outdoor bin.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                                                                                          I will note that I agree with this 100%. Kitty's waste is always sealed in a biodegradable plastic poop bag.

                                                                                                                                                              3. The county where my parents live (on the East coast, by the way) has banned plastic bags, in grocery and all other stores. Others mention subsequent charges for paper bags, but in my visits there I have automatically been given paper bags, at no additional charge. My parents have taken to using reuseable bags for their grocery shopping, always immediately returning the bags to the car after unlaoding at home, so that they will be there for the next trip.
                                                                                                                                                                I think the reusable bags are a great idea, but so far I have not found any reliable way to remind myself to take them with me when heading to a store. I'm kind of a forgetful guy. I will say, though, that when I go someplace like Aldi, I will refuse to pay for their bags, choosing instead to let my purchases wander around the back of the truck on my ride home. Perhaps charging for bags would be a good way to reduce consumption; it certainly would work for me.

                                                                                                                                                                Also, it really bothers me when, seemingly everywhere I go, it is automatic for the store employee at the register to put my purchase in a bag, no matter how many items (like ONE!), or their size. Just the other day, I bought a new pair of shoes, and that was my only item. They already come in a cardboard box, and the woman was going to put them in a plastic bag! I declined the bag. I do so often, and am then often asked "are you sure?". My replay is "yes - save a plastic tree".

                                                                                                                                                                13 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Cheez62

                                                                                                                                                                  I grew up in the retail business in an age when clothing was put in boxes with tissue, boxes and paper bags of small items were then placed in sturdy paper shopping bags with the business name/logo on them.

                                                                                                                                                                  But my father (the owner of 15 stores) would have a hemorage if an employee ever put a shoe or boot box in a bag. He'd point to the cone of string under the wrap desk and remind the employee that boxes merely get tied. In fact we had tubular cardboard handles that hooked onto the string or shopping bag handles for easy carrying.

                                                                                                                                                                  I still use string to tie things instead og bagging, saves time and money.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: bagelman01

                                                                                                                                                                    That's very interesting. I remember the same thing.

                                                                                                                                                                    The same goes for a hat box…
                                                                                                                                                                    I'd be very upset if anyone suggested putting mine in a bag.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Cheez62

                                                                                                                                                                      The way to be sure you have reusable bags when shopping is to NOT have a place to store them in the house. You need to store them in the car (or on the bike, I guess). Once you start storing the bags where you will need them, the problem disappears. Bonus is that you have some sturdy bags with handles for taking into the mall, or the Walmart/Target/Penny's.

                                                                                                                                                                      I don't know what you city people who walk or take the bus would do. Maybe storing them right by the door would remind you to grab them when heading out shopping I might try some of the nylon bags that fold up teeny tiny and keep them in my purse. .

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: DebinIndiana

                                                                                                                                                                        I've never owned or driven a car, and have long used my reusable bags. I'm simply in the habit of taking them. I might keep a bag in my bicycle bags, but it isn't really practical to store them on a bicycle, even with Dutch bags on it. Just store them right by the door, and I never leave the house without at least one. It is simply a habit. I've also lived in Europe, so I've been accustomed to that for decades.

                                                                                                                                                                        I use my nylon bag for non-food shopping, such as clothing, books or stationery/small computer accessories.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: DebinIndiana

                                                                                                                                                                          Oh, I agree, keeping them in your car or whatever is definitely the best way. Unfortunately for me, I am more likely to end up stopping at the store in one of about 10 work trucks than I am in my own. That makes it tough for me to establish those good habits. But I'll work on it!

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: DebinIndiana

                                                                                                                                                                            The critical step is that you have to remember to put them back in the car.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                                                                              I presume you mean after taking them home, not after shopping!

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: lagatta

                                                                                                                                                                                Yea although I have been known to forget a bag at the store and go crazy looking for it.

                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                                                                                just hang them on the doorknob when you're done with them -- then they're literally right there under your hand when you go to open the door to head out.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                                  I tried that -- my family hated it (maybe because the back door requires "technique" to make sure it latches anyway). It's only a few steps back to the car, store in the trunk, and good to go. IMMEDIATELY after unloading the bags, before they find a place to hide in the pantry.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: DebinIndiana

                                                                                                                                                                                    there are those who have to park in a garage downstairs, or down the street, or who don't even *have* a car...and there are folks who don't have to mutter incantations to get the door to latch (I used to live in a house with an evil door....)

                                                                                                                                                                                    A hook near where you keep your keys works, too...

                                                                                                                                                                                    the point being that there are ways to make it easy to make sure you don't forget your bags.

                                                                                                                                                                              3. re: DebinIndiana

                                                                                                                                                                                I have a variety of reusable bags, but definitely a few of those lightweight, but strong, nylon foldable bags. The bag is approx. 2.5 x 3 x 0.5" when folded. I can keep two in my medium-sized purse. With the larger bags, I find that folding carefully, then bundling with a rubber band, will help to reduce storage space needs. There is a bag o' bags near the door of the apartment.

                                                                                                                                                                            2. I walk to the grocery store, usually on the way back from home and before picking up the kids from school and daycare. Having to carry bags to transport groceries means I never have enough bags even though I always have one or two in my backpack, so I have to buy some. The 5 cents does not annoy me, but the fact that I never seem to have enough bags does. I can't really start carrying 5-6 bags since they take too much space in my bag and the small foldable ones are not sturdy enough for me, so I don't like them.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. Surprisingly (to me) it actually has changed people's behavior just to save 10 cents. A couple of issues though: some places double bag. I have never bothered to check if they are charging me for one bag or for two in that instance. Also, perhaps the greatest plastic bag problem over and above the bags at the checkout stand --based on zero formal "research" on my part-- is that people use dozens of plastic bags for each individual type of fruit or veggies --you know, the rolls of bags places around the produce section. In some cases it makes sense, e.g. so berries do not spill all over. But if I'm buying 3 oranges and 3 apples, why do I need to put them each in any separate plasitc bag at all? Perhaps those could be offerred in a vending machine of sorts - a quarter gives you five of those little bags.

                                                                                                                                                                                7 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: MagicMarkR

                                                                                                                                                                                  I put three or four apples in a plastic bag to make it easier for the checker.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: GH1618

                                                                                                                                                                                    Not to mention the checkout rubber mat is usually really dirty. I always wash my produce before I eat it, but still. I don't want to put it in the cart unbagged, and I don't want to put it on the checkout line unbagged.
                                                                                                                                                                                    If I am buying lettuce, fennel, kale, green onions, and cucumbers (my last trip to the store), I really do want those all separately bagged and not rolling around wiping up debris or mixing flavors. Protects my investment.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: khh1138

                                                                                                                                                                                      you do realize that your produce has come into contact with enough microorganisms before you put it into that plastic bag, that 3 minutes on the checkout belt really isn't going to make a lot of difference, right?

                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: GH1618

                                                                                                                                                                                      I place my produce items on the belt in groups of the same item (i.e. all the granny smith apples together, then carrots, then red apples, separately from the green apples with a different SKU...) and in the order in which I'd like to bag them. Yes, I am *that person* in the line ahead of you!
                                                                                                                                                                                      But really, what difference does it make for the checker, whether or not the items are in a bag?
                                                                                                                                                                                      I wash all my produce before using, so don't consider it problematic that food touch the cart/basket/conveyor. But I do bag the mushrooms, peppers, grapes or berries; all the small stuff.
                                                                                                                                                                                      As for carrying bags... usually I have my own, foldable, washable bags. Occasionally I pay for a 5 cent disposable, or a $3 re-usable.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: KarenDW

                                                                                                                                                                                        2-3 apples is no big deal...

                                                                                                                                                                                        ...but if you're gearing up for pie or some other dish that requires more than a few apples, putting them in the plastic bag means that they're easier to weigh without the risk of having apples rolling all of the store (including on the floor).

                                                                                                                                                                                        The cashier has to weigh them, so it means you'll be charged accurately for what you're buying, the checker is done with your order faster, and you (and I) can get out of the grocery a few minutes faster than if she's trying to balance and juggle multiple piles of loose fruit.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                                          If I'm purchasing several pieces of fruit, i.e., 6+ apples, then I might use the cloth bag that I'm carrying anyways. Or I would use a disposable produce bag. But even with 6-8 pieces of fruit, I've not had anything land on the floor. (I'm +50, btw, and have shopped this way for 30 years)

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: KarenDW

                                                                                                                                                                                            the disposable produce bags were what I was hoping you were using.

                                                                                                                                                                                  2. I'm in CA but not in the areas that have banned plastic bags. That said, I've carried my own totes for years - I started because fabric totes hold more and are easier to lug up three flights of stairs than a dozen plastic bags. And these days I walk to the store and back, so fabric totes I can sling over my shoulder are easier to carry on the trek home. Also, some of the stores would deduct 5 cents a bag if you brought your own bag in. Not significant, but it adds up over time.

                                                                                                                                                                                    When I started doing this, cashiers looked at me funny. I'd even have some who would bag things up in plastic and then load the plastic bags into my totes. *facepalm* For the most part they've gotten better about it over the last few years as it becomes a more common thing. Though today at the dollar store when I handed over my tote bag to the cashier and said I don't need her to bag my stuff into a plastic bag she got totally befuddled. "You mean you want to put the things in the bag yourself? or you want me to do it? or.. I don't get it?"

                                                                                                                                                                                    When I buy meat, I put it into one of the plastic bags for bagging produce, and then put that into one of my tote bags. My totes go through the washing machine regularly so if they got a little bit of 'meat juice' leak out of the bags into them, I wouldn't freak out. In fact I'm considering making up a bunch of reusable produce bags from something extremely lightweight like cheesecloth or mesh of some sort. I imagine my produce could then just be left in the bags when I store it in the fridge too.

                                                                                                                                                                                    For anyone even half way handy with a sewing machine, this is the pattern I use to make my tote bags - I taught myself to sew by making totes, so if I can do it so can you.!

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. In the last three months, on more than on occasion, I have seen shoplifting incidents happening because of reuseable bags.

                                                                                                                                                                                      In one case, a woman hurriedly pushed people aside (touched me with her cart, not in a gentle way) at the Ikea store via the checkout counters, having a child in the seat and a bag filled with items, which I observed and immediately told the cashier who called security.

                                                                                                                                                                                      At another store, a woman had placed several bags on top of two egg cartons, put the remaining items on the conveyor (including one carton of eggs) and then handed two bags to the cashier. The egg cartons were visible to me and I told the cashier. When the woman lifted the bags, several items fell out of one of the bags.

                                                                                                                                                                                      I doubt those were isolated incidents.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Cathy

                                                                                                                                                                                        just a guess, but I'm figuring that most stores have already identified this as a problem area and taken steps to minimise the losses.

                                                                                                                                                                                        But then, I've seen someone smuggle $30 of steaks out in a winter coat, so it's not like shoplifting has suddenly increased with the advent of reusable bags.

                                                                                                                                                                                      2. Call me a cynic, but I think the bag ban has more to do with grocery stores trying to squeeze more money from customers than a love for planet earth.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Dagney

                                                                                                                                                                                          so if it ends up with fewer bags in the landfill and blowing around the landscape....whatever.