Need ideas for re-usable grocery bag storage

kathecOctober 30, 2009

I have a bunch of re-usable grocery bags that I buy with good intentions, but have a hard time getting them to the store. The problem is that they are all different sizes and many don't re-fold as nicely as when they were brand spanking new. I've just de-cluttered my laundry room and I want to make a home for these, but I'm at a loss as to how to contain them. Storing them all in my car is not really an option.

I probably have about 10 of the regular grocery sized ones, I've got 4 extra large ones (I just picked at Dick's Sporting Goods 4/$1!!!), a few big IKEA bags and some large Costco bags.

Please tell me how you typically store your bags. If you store them in your laundry room/utility/basement/mudroom or whatever, how do you contain them?



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Put a couple of them in each car, tucked under the front passenger seat, for those quick shopping stops.

Put the rest all into one of the bags (whichever one works best) and hang it in a closet near the front door for the big weekend shopping trips. If they won't refold neatly, you can just roll them.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2009 at 4:14PM
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I keep all mine inside one bag... and have them in the car.

I don't see why you'd want to keep them in your laundry room... unless you use them there.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2009 at 4:34PM
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My laundry room is connected to the garage where I park my car. I can't really call it a mudroom, it's not that large. More of a laundry nook with a hallway attached. For me it's the most logical place to store them in the house. I've had them in the kitchen (pantry) and in the hall closet nearest the kitchen, but I could never remember them on my way out the door. Out of sight out of mind.

For those who answered that you keep them all in one bag. I think I'm going to try this. I've got some robe hooks that I could hang it from just inside the garage door. I just hope it won't be too bulky. I'll set it up and post a picture in a bit.


    Bookmark   October 30, 2009 at 5:15PM
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I keep different sizes in each of our cars, tucked inside a clear bag, so I can see what I need. (They hang on the back of the driver's seat.) I have insulated bags that hold dairy products, or dinner from a restaurant when there's too much food. There are small to extra large sizes, so I can pick and choose. They have never done me any good inside the house, which is why I keep them in my car.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2009 at 5:16PM
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I try to keep them in my car. I was once in line behind a man who was paying for his groceries. He had about ten of those cloth bags and he used them for all his purchases. . What a guy!

    Bookmark   October 30, 2009 at 5:49PM
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Thanks for all the advice. The storage inside my car is a bit hard. I've got 3 kiddos, so I can't really hang them from the seats. I've also got a GPS system under the front passanger seat, so that place is out. I've got a trunk and I do keep the regular grocery size ones in there, but the big ones I use for Costco or IKEA were the ones that give me trouble.

I am pleased to say that I gathered every bag I own and contained them within one of the larger bags. I attached a robe hood to the wall and they are now living happily in plain sight ready to go. I was a bit worried that I wouldn't be able to get my washer door opened, but even with bag totally full I can still open it comfortably.

I've attached pictures, there's a before & after. Please ignore the blue taped thing. It's a defunct alarm that DH has been meaning to remove.

Thanks again!

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   October 30, 2009 at 6:02PM
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    Bookmark   October 30, 2009 at 7:15PM
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I have the same problem as you "had". My dilemma is that I have no garage and no space by the front door to put these bags. I'm sure I have the same amount as you do, including the Ikea ones.

It's so hard to just go back to the car to put the bags back in there after I put the stuff away.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2009 at 9:17PM
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I have actually switched from bags to baskets. They are easier to pack and to empty, and to keep clean. They are stored on top of shelving near the front door, where they also happen to be nice to look at. Some fit into each other and I almost always take at least one out of the house with me - handy place for the shopping list. I also use glass milk bottles, and I actually have a nice flat-bottomed leather bag that I use for those. It has a permanent home on a shelf, and bottles go back into it as soon as they are washed and dried.

I do keep just one cloth bag in the car, stuffed into a compartment, for unexpected stops.

But I did do the cotton bag thing for years, as I was an early convert. Here is the gist of my experience that may help to keep those organized:

1. There is such a thing as having too many bags. Assess which ones you need (might be different ones for each store you regularly visit) and assign storage and a routine to those. Donate/discard the others (cotton can be composted). (I think the new polypropylene ones can be recycled too).

2. Cloth bags don't last forever. In addition, they get rather grotty after a certain number of uses. The laundry room is thus a great place to store them as you might think of washing them more often. But even so, rotate. Throw one out from time to time. Everyone's on the bandwagon, you'll get new ones.

3. There are good bags and bad bags. Don't accept them all! For example: handles too long = drag on the ground. I do enjoy having some bags that go over the shoulder though. But my favourites are actually the bags made to the same design as the plastic bags we are all trying to replace.

And yes, for storage, one strong hook where you can get to it easily as you leave, and either pack them into each other or hang them separately (I prefer that, as I am often looking for a certain bag - we use the bags for everything as well as groceries).

Finally, don't disregard the value of the plastic bags you get from clothing stores and so on. They are usually heavy plastic and will make many trips, and are stronger than normal grocery bags. The bonus is that being plastic rather than cloth, they pack flatter and are easier to keep in the glove compartment or even a purse.


    Bookmark   November 2, 2009 at 1:21PM
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I organize my recyclable soft drink and water plastic bottles (and cans) into Ikea bags. It's easy to take these to the recycling center when it's full.

Can I put the freezer bags with the silver on the inside of the bag into the washing machine? Any special tips on washing it? I'm assuming I can't put it into the dryer. Am I correct?

    Bookmark   November 2, 2009 at 7:55PM
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Marie, I don't have any insulated bags that will go in the washer. Instead, I just wipe them down with a damp/soapy cloth and air dry if they need it. Those are something else that need to be replaced every so often, but can be used for quite a long time until that happens. Since you can't wash them, you wouldn't put them in dryer! (Think of those needing ''hand-washing/line-drying''.)

Mine don't go back out to the car as soon as they come in. Instead, I have a hook like Kathe's that I hang them from, next to my car keys. I always do a bag check on my way to the car, so they go with me.

    Bookmark   November 2, 2009 at 8:24PM
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Keep in mind that you have to use a reusable bag over a thousand times for it to be less environmentally costly than one plastic bag per use.

It might never break even if you machine wash and dry it.

Just being realistic here....

    Bookmark   November 4, 2009 at 4:12AM
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What I use is one of those hanging shelves that have larger square compartments. The kind that hangs on the front closet rod and are soft bodied. I roll them them up and tuck them inside. The extra leftover compartments are used for guest socks (no shoes house) and slippers.

I still like to keep a few emergency bags in the car, but I can understand hating to have to go back into the car to put them away after being so tired after shopping and putting groceries away... yuck.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2009 at 8:50PM
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I keep my bags in the trunk of the car, even those for dept stores. Instead of going back to the car after unloading bags, I keep them sitting under my purse & take them out the next time I drive.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2009 at 6:38PM
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I washed the bag with the silver lining in the washing machine because it was worth trying to save rather than just throw it out. I had been given it at a trade show and it's a better quality than the ones I buy at the local stores. The bag came out like new. Of course I didn't put it in the dryer.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2009 at 7:11PM
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Keep in mind that you have to use a reusable bag over a thousand times for it to be less environmentally costly than one plastic bag per use.

Really? What's the source for this piece of information?

    Bookmark   November 14, 2009 at 10:36AM
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Did I say 1000 times? I must have been kidding. How about never?

It's a SCAM, folks. It gets you to buy more stuff.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2009 at 2:57PM
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I use chico bags because they are machine washable, stuff into their own little attached stuff-sack and are very lightweight, fitting into my purse so they're always with me. Reuseable bags are only good for the environment if you carry and use them. I use my chico bags for almost all purchases, at the drugstore, grocery store, the feed store, or the book store. You just have to find a size/type you like and use them. Don't buy one from every store you go to, and never buy them if it's not something you'll carry and remember to reuse.

Here is a link that might be useful: Chico bags

    Bookmark   December 2, 2009 at 4:33PM
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If anyone sews, there are a lot of patterns on the internet for making your own shopping bags. You can use your own old clothes or buy cotton clothes from resale shops.

    Bookmark   December 21, 2009 at 7:48PM
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Great idea Janet. I've started shopping thrift stores for the fabric in their clothes for crafting instead of buying new fabric. Granted you can't get large amounts of fabric, but for what I'm using it for it's perfect and saves me tons of money.
As for shopping bags we've bought all ours from Whole Foods. Their bags are made from 80 percent post-consumer recycled plastic bottles. All good.
Why I never thought to store them inside just one bag I have no clue. It sure will make it easier to keep just one bag handle on the coat hook in the garage than it will ten of them! Ha!

    Bookmark   December 22, 2009 at 2:43AM
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"Did I say 1000 times? I must have been kidding. How about never?

It's a SCAM, folks. It gets you to buy more stuff."

It's not just about cost. It's also about pollution:

Because of problems in the Chesapeake Bay, Maryland was looking at banning them:

For me it is because I can fit 4 plastic bags worth of groceries in one reusable bag. One of our groceries stores pays you to use them (as a credit on your order).

    Bookmark   December 22, 2009 at 7:31AM
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I use all my store bags for my regular garbage bags. It's just DD and myself, and we only produce 2-3 store bags each week for garbage pickup. I refuse to buy garbage bags knowing I couldn't fill up a standard garbage bag each week.

With that said, I only use/need a small garbage can under my sink big enough for 1 store bag. Next to the small garbage can, I have 1 store bag which holds my bag stash. I keep it full, but not stuffed.

I keep another small stash down in my basement near the litter box. I have a smaller rubbermaid-style, lidded box lined with a store bag & keep the scooped/used litter in there until it's full and ready to go out to weekly garbage pickup.

I keep about 5-6 bags at the bottom of my bathroom trash can. When the bath trash is full, I remove the bagged trash, reach down and get a clean one so I can replace it right there instead of walking to the kitchen bag stash every week.

I keep 3-4 in my car. I travel a lot for work & actually work out of my car from time to time. I tend to mess up my car more than the average.

There is a realization moment where you see you have more bags around than really necessary and becomes a burden to the household storage. When that happens, I just throw the excess away. I do believe in recycling, but there is a point where I don't obsess over it. Garbage for the excess bags is just fine with me and I refuse to lose sleep over the landfill.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2009 at 7:35PM
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Sometimes I fine yardage of nice fabrics at the thrift store. I love it when that happens.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2009 at 7:50PM
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Janet I have seen yardages too, but never anything I'd want to use. So far. I still look. Table clothes and curtains are good sorces of fabric too. I've not seen any sheets, but have found some chenille bedspreads that were in great condition.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2009 at 11:28PM
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The fabric is usually dated, but once in a while I find something useful. I've been chenille bedspreads, too, but I don't have a use for them.

I haven't looked for anything thing since last winter. I have promised myself that I am not going to bring anymore into the house until I use up a good amount of my stash.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2009 at 6:22AM
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Janet if I said that I'd never be able to buy fabric again. I worked selling fabric for just over a decade and, well my guess is you can just imagine how much fabric I have.

Gayle, I do a lot of what you do in using handle bags instead of buying trash bags and stashing extra in the bottom of the bathrooms waste baskets. I rarely have too many extras, but do recycle any that have holes in them and won't work for trash. Wal Mart and a few other stores have bins inside their front doors for recycling them. No trouble at all.

    Bookmark   December 25, 2009 at 5:28PM
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Justgota -- I would have a lot of fabric too if I worked in a fabric store.

This year I am going to finish my declutttering and organization projects, which will include either using or getting rid of most fabrics. I store all my sewing and craft supplies including the fabric in a big six drawer dresser, but it doesn't all fit. It will when I am done.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2009 at 12:41PM
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I have a friend that keeps all of her 'stuff' in a bin at the back of her vehicle. I'm thinking about using this system. My old system isn't working anymore. Between dh and the kids, I never have the things I need when i need them.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2009 at 1:31PM
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I keep a few in the front of the car so I can grab them and go, but I keep more inside another bag in the back for larger trips.

It is about the environment, but also about bottles that don't fall over, groceries that don't roll around in your car, cans that don't fall on your toes when you set them on the counter, fewer trips to and from the car, fingers that don't get plastic handle loops cutting into them and things not bashed or broken by ripped, torn or otherwise failing bags.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2010 at 12:49AM
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I keep plastic bags tucked into empty paper tissue boxes. I find the "boutique" size is the easiest to store. Then I scatter them around the house in bathrooms, closets,etc and in the car. A surprising number of plastic grocery bags can be stuffed into one empty tissue bag.

Years ago I bought a bunch of little plastic trash cans that are made to reuse plastic grocery bags. A link for something like them is below. I'll be the first to admit, they are not "decorative" but by now, everyone "gets" the point. I can loop 4 or five bags in each can, one inside the other. It makes it so easy to collect the trash from bedrooms, bathrooms, the office and laundry room.

Here is a link that might be useful: Trash can for reusing plastic grocery bags

    Bookmark   February 15, 2010 at 9:26AM
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Kitchen, I made these a couple years ago for Christmas presents...and still have one myself, they work great.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2010 at 10:04PM
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I store all my plastic grocery bags in a mesh folding hamper I bought at a garage sale. It holds a lot of them. When we have our rummage sales, we use them.


    Bookmark   March 5, 2010 at 6:43AM
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I keep some of mine in the trunk of my car,just fold them up and hold together with a large rubber band.

Last year i had left 2 of them on the back seat of my car,and then i didn't drive my car for months because of surgery,so dh took me everywhere i needed to go in the truck.
When i got ready to drive again i went to make sure i had what i needed still in my car.Saw all this stuff on the back seat and couldn't figure out at first what it was.You guess it,those bags had disintergrated to a pile of dust,i kid you not.My car sits out in the elements all day,and i guess over those months the sun was brutal.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2010 at 11:13PM
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Lov2Garden, that is one smart idea with the tissue paper box!! Wow. Not a bad one about multibagging in garbage containers either.



    Bookmark   March 8, 2010 at 12:47PM
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