Need help for a bag hoarder?

kraftdeeJuly 20, 2008

Someone in my household has a habit of keeping bags. Constantly keeps bags and even collects then. At the grocery store, grabs a bunch and brings them home. Two kitchen drawers stuffed to the brim. I've asked him to stop and use the ones he already has but he doesn't. When he dumps the "dry" recycle trash, he brings the back back in to reuse. Does anyone have any insights? I'm sure he's been doing it his whole life but if anyone has been through this and can help. It's gotten to be ridiculous, in my mind, that is. He also does this with napkins, tissues, and paper towels. He keeps stacks all over the house in cupboards and even takes them from restaurants and hotels.

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kraftdee...What is wrong with saving perfectly good bags??? :-)

I kind of have a problem with saving bags too, but not to the extent of your friend. I do re-use the dry recycle bags, but do not take bags or napkins from stores. I do have a hamper full of shopping bags and nice plastic bags the stores give you. I have a hard time tossing them or even recycling them, when I know I could probably re-use them again.

Why don't you give the person their own area to save them it...and not a public area like the kitchen. That might not reduce the bag collection but at least you wouldn't have to have them stored in your kitchen.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2008 at 11:50AM
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oh I know exactly what you're talking about! We used to have a neighbor ( elderly gentleman) that was like that about sweet & low, syrup packets,condiments etc.

Not sure what causes that but it does get to be a compulsion.

Sorry I can't really tell you what to do about it but wanted to let you know I don't think it's that uncommon.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2008 at 11:50AM
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I'm a bag hoarder mtself. But I USE the bags. I save plastic bags from grocery stores and use them to line all the wastebaskets in my house. I grab extra napkins at fas-food places and keep them in my car's glove compartment. Great for blowing noses, killing bugs, wiping up minor spills,etc. But I know there's a happy medium. When I have so many bags they start blocking me from using kitchen cabinets, it's trime to let some go. I can always get more!

    Bookmark   July 20, 2008 at 12:16PM
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Thanks all. I think it's a tendency overall... he does it with clothes and reading glasses too. He let me clean out his closet recently and I found lots of collected clothing that was brand new (tags still on) and he choses to use the old ones even though their stretched out of shape and faded. There's nothing wrong with saving the bags and napkins and reusing them but it's when they are kept beyond the needs and never get used that's what I don't understand. I will consider making a special place for him to store these things but I wonder if there's a way to help him feel more secure without having to have so many stored?

    Bookmark   July 20, 2008 at 2:42PM
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Ask this person to please mention this problem to his doctor, and maybe talk to the doctor yourself about OCD possibilities, and the extend of this problem, and how widespread it is in his life, and if it's getting worse. Because of HIPA, the doctor can't TELL you anything, but he or she can certainly LISTEN.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2008 at 3:32PM
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I used to also "save" grocery bags. One day, I have a special caddy that holds them and one day, I threw out any that didn't fit into the caddy. After all, I reasoned, I'd always be getting more at the supermarket the next week.

But I also have a stash of special bags that I've gotten throughout the years from travelling. They hold memories for me.

Today, I purchased 5 bags from Ikea for $1.00 each. They are the ones that you use to hold your goodies while shopping there. The bags are not new. I'm going to use them for my trips to Costco, etc. The reason I bought so many was because I keep forgetting to put them back in the car. This way, I should have enough in the car until I remember to put them back.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2008 at 10:49PM
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I hate the thought of throwing perfectly good bags out because that's wasting so I save them too. Anyway, I've discovered that the local library and the thrift stores need them. I happily donate and everyone is happy.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2008 at 10:39AM
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adella...Good idea to bring my excess ones to the thrift store! Thank you for that idea. I hate to just throw them away too.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2008 at 12:09PM
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We actually run out of plastic bags from time to time! Here are some things to think about:

* Can you figure out ways to use them? We line our trash cans, pack our lunches with them, wrap up the scooped cat poop with them before depositing it in the trash, use them for wet bags at the beach...

* Can you reduce your supply by working with your supplier? Ask him to be picky. No bags with holes, bags of a certain type, size ... you pick the criteria.

* I was told years ago by an exterminator that roaches love to live in drawers stuffed with plastic bags. Roaches can also flatten themselves and hide in bags and boxes brought home from the supermarket. We keep our plastic bags in a garbage can with a tight lid.

* We fold our bags into little packets. This reduces the space the bags take up and also makes them very easy to take anyhere. I can fit quite a few folded bags into the top of my Rack-a-Sack under counter trash bag.

* Many supermarkets have a bin in the front where you can drop off plastic bags for recycling.

Here is a link that might be useful: How to fold a plastic bag

    Bookmark   July 21, 2008 at 1:01PM
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jane...thank you for the bag folding link! That would sure save space.
I bought a shopping bag full of bags to the thrift shop the other day when I took in a bag of books. They were thrilled to get them. I thought you guys would get a laugh, I was sorting out some "special" to me bags before I brought them in! It was hard to part with some of my bags! These were mostly ones that I had gotten on foreign travel and meant alot to me.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2008 at 1:05PM
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My mother was a compulsive plastic bag saver. She was quite systematic, saving the bags IN bags of the same size so that she could find just the right size bag at a moment's notice. She used them as well. I recall having cut-up plastic bags covering the sofa - you can just imagine what it was like sitting on that in the summer - LOL!

    Bookmark   July 26, 2008 at 4:39PM
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Sounds like he's OCD to me too. Like Tally Sue, I think he should talk to his doctor about his compulsions. Just think of Monk. It really is a mental illness. I have a form of it too. It's not fun to live with. At times it can be embarrassing too.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2008 at 6:01PM
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I recently read some great information on an organizing website about compulsive hoarding. Thought you might like to check it out. Hoarding of anything can tend to be a problem. Sometimes it's a generational tendency. Hope this is helpful. The compulsive hoarding is under the tab "Declutter Articles." There's even a link to a movie trailer called "My Mother's Garden" that was quite shocking.

Hope this was helpful!

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   July 26, 2008 at 7:20PM
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dancer4808 - I noticed that you just joined this forum. Are you the owner of the website you linked to?

    Bookmark   July 27, 2008 at 8:08AM
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nothing special on that website, just basic tips; always good reminders, I guess.

I use my bags and don't stockpile, specially grocery store bags, they are so flimsy I double them....

when my grandmother died, we found bags stashed under sofa cushions, everywhere; she was also a box hoarder, her place always smelled musty.
She had items that were triple boxed, it was absurd...............

    Bookmark   July 27, 2008 at 1:32PM
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Your friend sounds like he has hoarding tendencies with not just bags. Don't know what to tell you except for you to say you have use for some of the bags, then take them to be recycled next time you come across a recyling bin. We use our grocery bags for cleaning out the litter boxes 2 x's a day so we use a lot of them. When DH gets low he says it's time for me to go to the grocery and spend money. LOL

    Bookmark   August 2, 2008 at 2:27PM
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My Bag Story:

Over twenty five years ago, when I was a newlywed and we were caretakers for an old rowhouse we had to get a unit ready for a new tenant. The old tenant vacated after 13 or 14 years. My job was to clean out the pantry which was the size of a walk-in closet with cupboards and drawers on each side.

I could not believe that every space in the pantry was stuffed to brimming with used bags. Grocery bags, insulated bags, plastic draw-tie bags, fancy department store bags, you name it. One that actually shocked me was from a department store bearing a name that hadn't been heard in these parts in over a decade. The bags expanded as I took them out of their wedged hiding places. It made me sad that the former tenant never got the use of a fairly nice pantry to store her food items and cooking utensils. And what a waste to save all those bags for nothing!

I decided to never save more than a few grocery bags. Right around that time the large grocery chains started offering handled cardboard cartons for fifty cents. I started using those to carry my groceries and got into the habit of taking the empty carton back to the trunk of my car.

We are spoiled when we KNOW we're going to grocery shop, yet expect a brand new bag each time we go. I became very emphatic about recycling when the effort started too. I think it has a lot to do with actually seeing the accumulation of any one product that you waste on a consistent basis. I do actually get those plastic bags from Walmart and Target but I am trying to cut down on those too. I used to justicy if by saying that I used them for trash liners but I get more than I can use. So I became "good" at recycling them but was made aware that the recyclers are actually throwing them away because it costs so much to recycle a plastic bag. They are made from petroleum products and added as trash to the environment.

A friend recently showed me a re-usable bag from Home Depot that was different from any other I've seen. You can stretch it to fit across your cart with special clip handles built into the handles. Then when you check out and leave your stuff in the bag you carry it with the reinforced handles.

If you can get into the habit of putting a carton or few bags into your car and then bringing them into the store you can significantly reduce the amount of bags in the "system". I saw with my own eyes how many bags one person can accumulate. I wish the person you posted about could have seen it also. That worked for me!

    Bookmark   August 2, 2008 at 8:25PM
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but was made aware that the recyclers are actually throwing them away because it costs so much to recycle a plastic bag

How did you learn of this? Which recyclers do this? If I go to all the trouble of collecting and bringing things for recycling, I want to know they are being recycled.

Has this ever happened to you? You ask the grocery clerk for paper bags rather than plastic, and they proceed to place the paper bag inside a plastic bag. Then look at you funny when you say, "no, I don't want the plastic bag at all." And then they throw the plastic bag in their garbage can.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2008 at 8:41AM
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We have cut way down on the plastic grocery bags -- we shop a lot at Whole Foods, and they don't offer them anymore, and both there and at the other grocery store we frequent, you get a bag discount (I think it's 5 cents per bag) if you bring your own bag. We save the paper ones and reuse them until they are worn out and then recycle them. I try to avoid getting bags when I shop unless I really need them to carry the stuff home.

We are currently somewhat overburdened with the small plastic bags used for produce. I've gotten in the habit of saving them because we do use them for cat waste and to put leaky lunch items in, but still have way more than we can use. I've toyed with the idea of taking them to the store with me and reusing them, too. (Gives new meaning to the term "bag lady.")

I don't know the answer to your problem, kraftdee. It does sound like hoarding disease.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2008 at 3:56PM
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