Reusable bags can be used anywhere....they're not just for groceries!Credit:

More and more cities and counties are beginning to see how dangerous the one-use plastic grocery bag is to our environment.  Not only do they clog our rivers and streams and kill off wildlife but they can take centuries to decompose in our landfills. 

In reaction to this mess, many municipalities are banning them.  Belgium, Italy, Ireland and Hong Kong all have laws that discourage the use of one-use plastic bags.  San Francisco was the first to initiate a ban in the U.S., followed by Los Angeles and Santa Clara Counties (CA), San Jose, California, Westport, Connecticut, Edmonds and Seattle, Washington, Portland, Oregon, Bethel, Alaska, and many others. 

Reusable grocery bags come in many shapes and colorsCredit: the bans continue to spread throughout the country, many consumers wonder how they are supposed to deal with this new inconvenience.  How can they remember to take their bags into the store?  Where can they store their new collection of bags?  And more importantly, how should they ensure the health and safety of their family while using the same bags over and over.

Here are a few suggestions:

Buy a Selection of Reusable Bags

You can find a wide array of reusable grocery bags in almost any store.  There are some that fold down so small that they can fit in your purse for those incidental purchases.  There are extra large ones that can hold up to 60 lbs.  And then there are the regular plastic bags that look like their paper counterparts but can be used over and over and over.  Buy a wide selection of bags so you always have the right tool for the job.

Keep a Couple On YouSmall foldable resuable grocery bags are perfect for your purse or back pocket!Credit:

Buy a couple reusable grocery bags that can fold or roll down small enough to fit into your everyday purse or back pocket.  This way, you always have a bag on you for those times you run into the store to grab a few incidentals and forget to grab one from the car.

Keep the Bags in Your Car

It will be hard for you to use your reusable grocery bags if they're not with you!  So make sure you store you bags in your car.  Many store theirs in their trunk to keep them out of the way.

Tuck a Couple in the Driver's Side Door Pocket as a Reminder

Of course, the best place to store your reusable grocery bags would be in your trunk but you have to keep in mind that old mantra: "out of side, out of mind".  If you don't see them in your rush for the store, you'll likely forget to take them inside with you.  A better suggestion would be to store one or two in your driver's side door pocket where you'll be more apt to see them and remember to grab some extras from your trunk on your way into the store.

Simple reusable grocery bagCredit: A Note About The Bags On Your Grocery List

As you write your grocery list for that week, add "Don't Forget The Bags!" to the top as a visual reminder to carry them inside.  Even if you forget them on the way into the store, your little note will remind you to retrieve them before loading up your basket.

Have Your Family Remind You

If you shop with the same family members over and over and over, designate one of them as your "bag holder".  Their job is to remind you to grab the bags from the trunk, carry them into the store for you, and make sure to hand them to the bagger while you're dealing with the cashier.  This is a great job for small kids!

Separate Foods to Ensure Safety

Ask the bagger to place your meat and chicken in a reusable plastic bag by themselves.  That way, if they drip, you don't get chicken or beef juices all over your pasta or lettuce.  Also, most reusable plastic bags will hold a small amount of liquids before they begin to leak so you might be able to save your trunk carpet too!

Wipe Down The Counter After Putting the Groceries Away

You never really know what was on the checkout counter before the bagger set your bags down.  When you placed your reusable shopping bags on the kitchen counter, any little germs or bacteria the bags picked up from the store could be passed on to your counter.  So make sure you wash any surface that your bags touched, especially your kitchen counters and tables.

Wash Them Frequently

Some people complain that the reusable grocery Cool reusable bags can be used anywhere!Credit: breed bacteria and causes cross-contamination.  The bag that held chicken last week could be holding your apples this week.  Your best bet is to wash your bags often, especially after they've held food that is prone to carrying bacteria, like raw meat, chicken, or fish.  Cloth bags can be washed in the washer with your sheets and towels while plastic bags can be wiped down with hot, soapy water and air-dried. 


Return Your Bags To The Car ASAP
Make it a point to return the bags to your car the moment you're done using them (or once they're dry, if you washed them).  This way, you always have them no matter what.