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An Earth Day Post

Looking for The Lactivist? She's retired. But you CAN still find Jen blogging. These days, she's runs A Flexible Life. Join her for life, recipes, projects and the occasional rant.

Monday, April 23, 2007

I kind of skipped over Earth Day due to all the planning for the Lactivist Bash, but a shopping trip yesterday reminded me of it.

For two months now, I've been trekking off to Whole Foods every two weeks hoping that their new shipment of grocery bags would come in. Each week, I'd leave disappointed.

Yesterday, I loaded up the kids and we headed across town to stock up on some basics. Greg and Elnora love the Whole Kids brand organic honey nut cheerio's and I buy Kashi Golean Crunch six boxes at a time. This time around, we were not disappointed. The new bags were in!

For those who have no idea what I'm talking about, check out this shot...

You'll note two cloth grocery bags hidden behind all those layers of plastic bags. I bought them months ago when I first spotted them at Whole Foods. At the time, I thought that they always sold them so I only bought enough to carry my groceries from that day. On my next trip, they were gone and I learned that I'd have to wait for the spring shipment to get more.

So yesterday, I spotted the new bags. They're $1 each and hold a TON of food. In fact, the two bags that I do own nearly always hold a week's worth of groceries for me. It's only when I'm stocking up on staples that they don't cut it. (And for those days, I have some inferior cloth bags from Giant Eagle. Now I can pass those on to someone else and use the awesome Whole Foods bags.)

What does this have to do with earth day? Well, estimates are that more than 80% of purchased items go home in one of those plastic bags these days. Around these parts, there seems to be an unwritten rule that you can't put more two items in a bag. That means that I often came home with 15-20 bags from a single shopping trip. While it's true that many stores are now offering bins to allow you to recycle those bags, recycling still uses resources. Why not avoid the plastic bags altogether?

(Check out the site Reusable Bags for more info.)

Since the bags were available again, I picked up eight of them. I've got three for my grandmother, three for my mother and two more for me, giving me four bags total.

Not convinced that you want to help save the environment? Here are a few more reasons to use these bags instead of plastic ones...

1.) They hold way more than the standard plastic bag. This reduces the number of trips to and from the car AND keeps you from that painful feeling of plastic bag cutting into your hands as you try to carry too many bags at once.

2.) The straps are long enough to sling over your shoulder. I can carry one bag on each shoulder and one bag in each hand and get ALL of my grocery inside in one trip.

3.) No more "what do I do with all these plastic bags" questions. I hated throwing them away, never remembered to recycle them and ended up with huge collections of these things laying around.

4.) They fold up super small. I carry two of them with me at all times in my diaper bag. I'll likely add two more and carry four with me. That way, I can use them even if I hadn't planned on shopping. I've carted stuff home from Target, grocery stores and even clothing stores in them.

5.) They're great for taking stuff places. I've packed Elnora's clothes in one when she went to the in-laws on a weekend. I also used two to carry supplies to the Lactivist Bash this weekend.

6.) They save you money. Some stores actually give you a credit if you take your own bags in. At Meijer, the credit ranges from 5 cents to 50 cents per bag, depending on who is ringing you out. Either way, the bags paid for themselves in just a few trips.

7.) They're darn sturdy. I've had both paper and plastic bags bust on me and wow, is that not fun. These bags are super strong. I've loaded them down with enough weight that I almost couldn't comfortably carry them and they've held up under the pressure.

So if you've got a Whole Foods near you, take a trek, get some bags. If not, check out the wide range of reusable bags available online.


  1. Blogger Jonathan & Kaethe | 1:18 PM |  

    I meant to post a similiar post on my own blog on Earth Day, singing the praises of the Whole Foods bags. They were giving them away at my local store last year on Earth Day and I haven't looked back since. I honestly feel that it is one small step we have made as a family to reduce our overall consumption of plastic and other waste. Of course, nothing beats breast-feeding in that department!

  2. Blogger Leah | 1:32 PM |  

    Yup, I agree that it's way easier to use cloth bags. I use a lot of the random totes I have lying around my house, and the $0.59 bags from IKEA are great for lugging around laundry when you have a baby in the other arm.

  3. Blogger Analisa | 2:02 PM |  

    Great post. I always recycle the bags but I never thought about the fact that it uses resources as well. Duh. Will a place like Wal-Mart be willing to use those bags? I guess they probably wouldn't care. I saw an elderly lady ask a checker to put all her groceries in a couple of those silver insulated bags. I hate how they only put one or two things in each bag!

  4. Blogger Jennifer | 3:10 PM |  

    I'd imagine any place will use them. I just have them ready when I check out and say "I brought my own bags." They never give me a problem about it, though I always volunteer to bag them myself. (I'm totally anal about bagging things...)

    I figure it saves them money, so why should they care?

  5. Anonymous Anonymous | 6:17 PM |  

    But what do you use to pick up dog crap when you go to the park?!?

  6. Anonymous twood | 6:51 PM |  

    I hate how some checkers put things like a gallon of milk into 2 plastic bags...when you really don't need a bag at all - just use the handle on the milk jug!!
    I just recently started using 2 cloth bags that I got free (but not as nice as the ones you're describing from WF) and I'm amazed at how my supply of plastic bags is already dwindling! I re-use the plastic bags at home as trash-can liners, so it's nice to have a few around, but it's great to not have the oversupply. I wish I would have started with the cloth bags sooner.

  7. Blogger Melissa | 7:23 PM |  

    My daughter's daycare takes the plastic grocery bags. They are jokingly referred to as "the brown bag of shame"- that's how they send home soiled clothes. The guys in my office bring them to me, and I take at least a box a week to the daycare. Just a thought if you have them lying around!

    I am going to have to check if Kroger/Publix has reuseable bags.

  8. Anonymous Anonymous | 8:21 PM |  

    Oh man, do I ever hear ya about only putting one thing in each bag...but I guess it's because they're so dang flimsy, they don't want them to break. We have a grocery store only about three blocks from my house, and it never fails: by the time I get home with my stroller-load of food, at least half or more of the bags have ripped, and if they aren't by then, then they rip on their way up the stairs to our apartment.

    I do save the unripped ones and reuse them in many ways. They make great trash bags for those little trash cans, like the one by my sewing desk for my thread snips and fabric scraps, and the one in the bathroom. We also use them for dirty cloth diapers in the diaper bag. I've also used them wadded-up as packing material when moving, or shipping things.


  9. Anonymous Amanda | 9:53 AM |  

    I just ordered a couple of the fancy big grocery bags from reusable bags a couple days ago (the ones that clip to the cart). I've always used plastic & honestly never thought about it until recently. I have kept the plastic ones and used them for other stuff too... but I am excited for my bags to come & use them for groceries! Thanks for posting this :)

  10. Anonymous Rose | 2:58 PM |  

    Meijer in my area won't give me a credit for using my own bags. Those jerks. I live in the birthplace of Meijer too, and ole Fred has no problem plastering his name all over everything, but won't give me a lousy 5 cents for saving HIS company money on bags.

    I think I'm a little cynical today LOL.

  11. Anonymous Niki | 5:08 PM |  

    Thank you for this post it was very helpful. I am writing a persuasive paper on why you should use these bags. I got 3 of them from Walgreens and they're great!! I's so glad that many things are being done to help kee our beautiful earth clean. Thanks again!!!

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