5 Tips to remembering your reusable grocery bags
Updated: May 27
Paper or plastic? The answer is neither!
Like many of you, I don’t need government legislation to force my arm to use reusable grocery bags. Just look at these facts: the average American family takes home nearly 1,500 plastic shopping bags a year, and each bag is only used for an average of 12 minutes, that’s enough for me to switch to reusable bags. Further, it’s simply the easiest way to reduce usage of single-use plastics.
While we may have good intentions of using reusable shopping bags, the trick is remembering to bring them with us to the store. It's not until when we hear the clerk say “paper or plastic” that we realize we have failed our goal to reduce single-use plastics.
Publix Supermarkets has done a good job with reminders outside their stores to try to help their customers remember reusable bags. They also provide recycle bins by the entrance to encourage recycling your bags, which is another hint as you enter the store. These are great steps towards inspiring sustainability. Still, remembering those reusable bags can be difficult.
If you’re like me, you’ll need to put a few measures in place to assure your bags are in your hand when you walk in the store.
Here are 5 tips to help you add reusable bags to your shopping routine:
1) Use foldable bags, they are easy to store – and keep anywhere.
Invest in a little convenience with reusable bags that fold into a compact pouch. I
recommend purchasing a 3-bag set from OceanBlue Co. on Amazon. Buy them now and you’ll have them for your next trip to the store. I like these bags because they’re huge – replacing 3-4 traditional grocery bags, AND they come with a couple of mesh bags for produce items. They fold into an attached 4” x 6” pouch making them easy to keep stored and out of the way when you’re not using them. I always keep one in my purse and use it for trips to the pet store, pharmacy, and convenience store. I have even used them for Christmas shopping.
2) Add “bags” to the top of your grocery list.
I keep a grocery list using Notes in my iphone – this is super helpful for remembering the items I purchase frequently. The first item on my list is “bags”. This triggers me to gather them before I leave the house.
3) Set a location-based reminder on your phone.
This is too easy – it’s almost like cheating. But it’s a great way to remember your bags if you keep them conveniently stored in your car. Set a location-based reminder on your phone to prompt you to bring your bags when you arrive at your favorite grocery store. Click here for instructions based on your device.
4) Keep them where you will find them when your making your grocery list. Do you take a quick inventory of your pantry to see what you need to add to your list? Great! Keep your bags on the shelf where you will find them at the opportune time.
5) Make it a habit.
Personally, I have set out to eliminate my plastic bag usage. However, there are times when I have a lot on my mind and I forget. When I do, I park my cart on an empty isle in the store and go out to my car to gather anything that can store my groceries until I get home. You’ll be surprised with what you can use in place of bags, like a box, a gym bag, beach towel, I’ve even used a small cooler. It’s kind of a self-induced penance - but after enduring this, I always remember them the next time!
After unloading your groceries, be sure to wash them before their next use. OceanBlue Co. bags are machine washable. But they’re not made for the dryer, so let them air dry – and they dry quickly! Fold them back into their pouches and keep them where you can find them quickly for your next grocery trip.
So, there you have it. You are now set up to successfully reduce your usage of plastic shopping bags!