Wednesday, September 23

What I know. (and maybe a tiny little giveaway)

I know that reusable grocery sacks are just plain better. I love mine and am always bummed when I get to the store and realize that I left them home. (At that point I usually get paper) But recently, I was chatting with an unnamed friend and she mentioned that she's never used them - and said something like, "they seem so small - and when I grocery shop, I really want to grocery shop"

So, unnamed friend, this one's for you - and for those others who are blog readers and who also may have similar thoughts that may have caused you steer clear of cloth bagging it.

First, there is the issue of environmental stewardship. I'm not saying this to give anyone a guilt trip, I love all people regardless of their bagging preferences. But, I think we can at least all agree that if one person stops using plastic bags, primarily, there will be fewer plastic bags around and generally speaking, less plastic trash = better. Can you honestly say that you re-use your plastic grocery sacks at the same rate at which you obtain them from the store? What about the bags that tear and rip? There isn't really an easy way to find a use for those holey bags, unless you are particularly resourceful or creative. (CUTE!)

Second, when you use cloth bags, you really can get more groceries in per bag without injury to the groceries, the bags, or to you when you chase groceries down after a bag breakage, not to mention, it's healthier. Blood pressure, you know. Less stress because you're not dealing with broken bags and loss of circulation from heavy plastic bags cutting into your hands. OK - that might be a stretch. But the more stuff per bag is TRUE, and I have the photos to prove it.

Now, the following photos are not my best-shopping-trip photos, so please overlook the graham crackers and stovetop stuffing mix and instead direct your focus on the all natural dish soap, the milled flax seed, and the best vanilla ever that is worth every extra cent. The whole grain bread and peaches canned in 100% fruit juice are okay, too. What? The pictures are blurry? I totally did not do that on purpose.

Here you see one of my least favorite cloth sacks, but probably the most economical. This is the Walm*rt special, which I obtained for a mere 50 cents. It is full to the brim, but the handles start above the brim, so the groceries definitely do not interfere with carrying the bag. Which is a plus when you have bread on the top of your bag. Unlike the plastic sacks, the bread will remain unsquished.

Demonstrated here is my family's affinity for graham crackers. And it may or may not be my late night snack of choice. Anyway, the fact remains that even with two extra wide loaves of bread on top there is still plenty of room for more stuff underneath.

Yes, you might have to lean to the right, but you will then see the best vanilla available at the Midland Meijer. It is worth every penny. You will have to trust me, but this is a quality ingredient that makes a ton of difference in your vanilla treats. I am speaking here of rice pudding, especially. Or anything with butter. And vanilla. And sugar. Oh. Be still my taste buds.

So let's review. 3 boxes of graham crackers, 2 boxes of stovetop stuffing, 2 cans of peaches, a bag of milled flaxseed, 2 spice cannisters, a bottle of dishsoap and a bottle of vanilla all fit quite comfortably in my cheapie cloth sack.

And here is how it (doesn't) all quite fit into a plastic sack. It is hard to tell from the photo, but I filled the bag up waaaay more than I would at the store - I would be slightly freaked out that it would break and that is the last thing I need to be worrying about with 2 kiddos in a parking lot - chasing groceries. The corners were taut around the boxes, which often equals disaster.

So, are you convinced? Were you always? Would you like to give cloth bagging a try? It's easy - start small! Around here, stores have reusable bags hanging at the register for around $1 a bag - if you start with one and add one every shopping trip, before you know it you will have 6 or more bags to shop with! You can also make bags - there is a great tutorial here - and you can also buy them on etsy if you want something more artisty but can't sew. I do recommend that you get some with the box shaped bottom, which is why I love that tutorial so much.

Also, it helps me to unload the groceries and immediately return the bags to the van, as I am forgetful and do not need to add one more thing to the extensive list of items needed to leave the house with 2 small children.

What's that you say? You don't have 1 bag to start out with? Well, you have a chance to win one today! I'm giving away a reusable shopping bag with a Pampered Chef logo (woo hoo) on it to one fabulous reader! Just leave a comment with your feelings on cloth bagging, when you started or if you plan to start soon, and I will draw a name on Friday afternoon and send you a bag! US addresses only, please!

***THIS GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED! Congratulations to Sandra, who wins a Pampered Chef logo reusable bag!***


Carrie said...

ok..Ive debated about this but haven't Alhough in NZ they are charging for plastic bags to encourage people not to use them. my sister sent me a bag from Africa and it is HUGE and would work great. I think some of your reasonings are funny but I enjoyed reading your post anyway. Maybe It will make me lean even more to switching over

Tracy said...

I have been using cloth bags (and reusing paper bags) for over a year now since our grocery store pays me .05 for every bag I reuse. (Can save me more than .50 each shopping trip since our store loves to bag milk :) I would say be on the lookout for store specials. Walgreens will occassionally have their cloth bags free. Plus if you have a Menards near by. Last week I was able to score 10 reusable shopping bags for free after rebate (Yeah, no more reusing the paper bags)

Karen said...

I might be the only person on the planet who does use up all those plastic bags! I use them for bagging Ellia's dirty diapers--she has 5 or so PER DAY.

I guess I need to keep what few cloth bags I own into our vehicle and keep them there! Maybe then I'd use them!

Alicia said...

I've been using cloth bags for grocery and everything shopping for ages now (almost 10 years) since my mom sews the awesomest cloth canvas bags. I have 4 HUGE ones plus various small freebie ones and one envirosack. The envirosack is by far my favorite as it rolls into a convenient little pack that I keep in my purse for unexpected purchases. On my project to-do list is this snap-up bag from a pillowcase:

I'm 100% behind you on the environmental stewardship stance. Well stated.

I WISH our grocery stores in Ohio reimbursed me for bringing cloth bags! They used to 3 or 4 years ago. Now instead a little congratulatory statement prints out on the receipt saying something like, "Great job reducing plastic bag consumption!"

My sis-in-law is a darling but she's a rabid plastic bag user. I keep meaning to make her a fused plastic bag project (check out Betz White's crazy cute projects using fused bags: but like most of my projects they never become reality. I usually just daydream about completing craft projects. :)

Alicia said...

By the way, DON'T enter me into your giveaway. I have plenty of bags and to spare!

marybeth said...

Love the cloth bags!!! i do have to admit, that i do get some plastic bags--as we reuse them for picking up dog do-do... but i prefer the cloth bags! they DO hold a ton of groceries and are very sturdy!! if i forget them (as in today) i get paper...

nate, christina, and connor said...

i've only recently started using the reusable bags from meijers. LOVE THEM--except that i think they're hideous. i can fit SO much, and i have to admit i was surprised by the amount i could cram in there and still carry comfortably. i really think that's a huge bonus for mommies. the fewer trips from cart to trunk---trunk to front door, the better!

BUT... i have to give credit to my sis--and gramma for that matter. she (they) use plastic store bags to line all the trash cans in their homes. they never buy plastic trash can liners. gramma's been doing it for years, and nicole switched over recently. she even went out and bought a teeny tiny lidded trash can for her kitchen. i thought about trying that approach, but i tend to be a plastic bag snob.... i only like target's bags. :) so i use them for my bathroom and bedroom trash cans.

and i, like alicia, have plenty of those hideous blue bags. great giveaway idea, though!

Mary Ann said...

I have totally made the switch to cloth bags & I have brought my husband with me :-) We have several bags & the ones that seem to be the most useful are actually bags that I have gotten at ladies' retreats - how funny is that! Thanks for the giveaway & your fun blog!

ruth said...

I've been meaning to make the switch for a while now. Winning would be great motivation for me to get started!

Karis said...

I don't qualify for the giveaway, but I have to share the chuckle this brought to me. A few stores here give plastic bags, and if they do, we are thrilled because we also use them for all of our trash liners in the house. We don't have a nice trash can with a lid outside to put our trash in until the trash people come. The people before us had three or four little five gallon bucket like things without lids, and that's what we use because that's what the other people in the neighborhood use. Thought about buying the $80 trash can in town... for 3 seconds....$80?!? And besides, I'd really stand out bringing that out to the trash man!

So, I tie up our trash so nothing can get in it and put it outside in our uncovered buckets. I kept going out there and finding our trash dumped out into the buckets and the plastic bags gone -- gross! But even grosser was the discovery I made -- our African guards were the ones doing it so they could have the plastic bags. They couldn't figure out why we were wasting the bags like that when they were in a bucket I thought about it, we are the only ones in the neighborhood who "wrap" our trash. Apparently, plastic bags are valuable enough to re-use one after washing it out when someone's trash has been in it.

The Two of Us said...

I also use up my plastic bags like a maniac. We use them for trash can liners in the bathrooms, diaper pail liners in the nursery and doggy doo picker uppers on walks. I keep a little handmade (not by me) bag holder near the kitchen so they get dumped in there to be reused.

I have, however, contemplated the cloth bag route because I recently started shopping at Aldi and they don't bag at all. It would be nice to keep bags in the trunk instead of just chucking all the groceries randomly in the trunk and then taking 52 trips to get the food in. I will attempt your suggestion of putting bags in the trunk immediately after unpacking them because even though I only have one little guy to load in the car, I always seem to forget...

Tricia said...

I love the cloth bag idea, I'm just not very good at implementing it. I'm terrible about remembering to bring them into the store, or put them back in the car, or whatever other scenario you could come up with. I do always reuse whatever plastic bags I get, but I'm working on getting better at being disciplined enough to remember the cloth ones!

Shelley said...

I prefer the bags we bring in for the same reasons, they are sturdy and my driveway is a bit of a walk to the kitchen. I need a bag I can rely on and it's nice to be able to carry more than one bag at a time.
I'll have to take a picture of the bags I use from Fred Meyers, they are really great.

Stephens said...

Wow! Never gave this much thought until you sent one and brought this to my attention. :-) I have to admit. . .I still haven't tried it. Oops!

Doesn't love a wall said...

I have used these for probably a solid year. My only problem is getting them back out to the car!!! But the fewplastic bags I do have I reuse until I just can't anymore. Then I let my kids make hats out of them. HA I kid.

You MUST MUST read "crunchy Cons" it's sooo right down your alley!