Are You a Bag Lady?

shopping bag

Once upon a time I used to request “paper” at the grocery store. But my mother convinced me that storing paper bags attracted spiders and one too many handle breakages on the way home convinced me that paper didn’t work for me. I switched to plastic and stored and recycled the bags.

Recently though, I got tired of using up valuable space to store a recyclable item that I could replace with already existing items. I had been given numerous cloth shopping bags over the years that I used to cart books, lunches, and whatnot about. I yanked several from their closet and took them to the store with me. Instant joy! Not only did I not come home with numerous irritating shopping bags, my cloth bags held more and ripped less. And I got a small credit at the store!

I am now a proud bag lady. I bring my own cloth carriers wherever I go and have already noticed a nice drop in the amount of space used for recycling. How about you? Do you ever take your own bags to the store?

– Maggie AAR

7 thoughts on “Are You a Bag Lady?

  1. Tory

    Great ideal Maggie, but have you read this:

    Do you still use plastic bags? If not, chances are you’re carrying around a reusable bag for groceries… and like any other good deed, this one’s not going unpunished either. So a little heads up: you may want to make sure you’re regularly washing your reusables, because it’s now been found that they’re most likely carrying around large amounts of bacteria!

    More specifically, “coliform bacteria, suggesting raw-meat or uncooked-food contamination, was in half of the bags, and E. coli was found in 12 percent of the bags” tested in a recent study. While washing bags reduced levels to practically nothing, the study also found that people rarely, if ever, are actually washing them. So for those who waited in line for the “I’m Not A Plastic Bag” at Whole Foods… that’s like three full years of bacteria by now!

    So, one more thing to toss in the laundry (just make sure you buy ones that are washable: polypropolene, cloth or canvas).

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  2. LeeB.

    For extraneous groceries, I have to take a cloth bag to the store after the city council created a plastic bag ban law — even after the voters voted against it. Argh! And now paper bags cost $.10 each! Ripoff! Fortunately I saved a lot of both paper and plastic bags before the new law went in effect last year. I find it easiest to carry my groceries in a paper bag reinforced by two plastic bags which I carry over my left arm.

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  3. Tory

    Here are some tips for using reusable grocery totes:

    – Wash your grocery tote frequently in the washing machine or by hand with hot, soapy water;

    – When shopping, put meat, poultry and fish in separate plastic bags before placing in the tote. This will help prevent juices from leaking and contaminating your reusable bags and food;

    – Place fresh or frozen raw meat, poultry and fish in separate totes from produce and ready-to-eat foods;

    – Clean all areas where you place your totes, such as kitchen counter or table, to reduce cross contamination;

    – Store totes in a clean, dry location. Avoid leaving totes in the trunk of a vehicle.


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  4. maggie b.


    Thanks or the tips. I didn’t know about any of this :-) I do still have them put the meat in plastic but will be careul to also wash the bags regularly.


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  5. CindyS

    Uh, oh. We leave our totes out in the car so that we don’t forget them – I wondered about washing them but mine have a plastic outside and I didn’t want them to crack. I also put meat in a separate bag but now I’m going to definitely wash at least one and see how it holds up.

    At other places we just don’t take the bags if I’m not worried about people breaking into my car.


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  6. Nathalie

    I usually take a bag with me when I go shopping since a plastic bag costs
    2 SEK ($ .30). When I buy a plastic bag I use it more than once and then I use it for trash.

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  7. Patty

    We’ve been using cloth bags for 20+ years. I always put meat and such in it’s own bag but I’ve never washed the cloth bags – I’m going to start this weekend! I do wash them occasionally because as soon as I empty the bags & put them on the floor the cat gets in them & gets ‘em all hairy!

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