reusable cloth grocery bags/ save money or not?

bretonbJuly 14, 2007

I decided to buy some reusable cloth grocery bags from a local store. At first I thought that it would be a good idea , as I get very tired of having so many of the free plastic bags. However I do use the free plastic bags in my everyday garbage pail. Now my supply of plastic bags will run out and I will have to buy plastic bags for my garbage. I know that the idea of the reusable cloth bags seems to be great for the environment, but it seems to be defeating the purpose when I have to spend extra money on moree plastic bags. How do others solve this garbage problem.

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I use the plastic bags for my garbage too. To cut down on the amount of bags i bring home i will never take a bag if i know i have too many at home. This way i never have to buy garbage bags and i save the planet by using my cloth bag when i have too many. I also recycle all plastic bags that come into the house. This will include any food item that is sold prebagged such as bread or even potatoes. Some grocery store have a recyle box that i drop them off in.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2007 at 7:19PM
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I don't use many plastic bags for rubish now. There's often no need to throw the bag every time you empty the bin, I just use it to line the bin incase something messy ever goes in there. At the end of the week I empty the bins around the house in to the big bag in the kitchen bin and throw it all out together. The kitchen bin would be emptied regardless if it's full or not (rarely is full) so I may as well use up the extra space and save some bags.

I still prefer to buy bin liners as they're thicker plastic and have no holes in, so they protect the bins better, but at the rate I replace them a roll lasts something crazy like 10 years.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2007 at 1:05PM
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Bry84, You have a good idea about not replacing those plastic bags on a regular basis. I think I may give this a try. Or maybe not use a bag at all. My kitchen garbage pail has a removable pail within the outside garbage container. I may just take this out and dump the garbage into a large green garbage bag. We were in Portugal this spring and in the grocery stores they charge so much for every plastic bag the customers use. I live in Nova Scotia Canada and I think they are also trying to do this in selected stores here. I think it is a good idea. People have to become more aware of the waste they are creating and try to do something about it.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2007 at 6:39PM
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In some stores, we get the carry-out bags free, but in others when we check out, they ask us whether we want bags and how many ... but their shelf-loaders bring the empty cardboard boxes that the bulk groceries come in to a large box at the front of the store just beyond the checkout.

I never buy the bags (I think that they cost about a nickel), as sometimes I've had a couple in my pocket (they take little room) ... but they are a bit of a nuisance to fill, not being in the bag rack that the checkers use.

More often I pick a cardboard box out of the box - we can tie a bunch of them up for recycling.

Or, as I live alone and often buy few groceries, just carry them in my hand.

Some of the stores are offering the resuable grocery bags in plastic ... made from all of those recycled water bottles (and pop bottles) that so many people insist on buying, rather than filling a mug from the kitchen tap ... a great deal cheaper.

I think that they'll probably be functional long after the cotton ones have developed holes.

And I've been fortunate enough to get a few cotton ones ... free.

Some were ones that the Canada Revenue Agency (Income Tax) people give us Community Volunteer Income Tax Preparation people at the annual training sessions for the recent changes, to carry the materials that they give us.

I think that the stores are selling the reusable bags for $1.00.

Please try to cut down on your garbage, folks ... I live within a couple of miles of a garbage dump recently purchased by a large city ... that they'll have to truck garbage about 120 miles to (one way) ... and it cost them $220 million, I've heard.

I haul my drinking and cooking water in jugs from the city (a different one), but I had some jugs with me when I visted Toronto the other day, and told some folks that they should be willing to give me free water ... if they're (not yet) dumping their garbage so close to me that I'm afraid to drink the water from my well.

Those (more or less gallon) jugs can be filled at only a limited number of locations, though ... they won't fit in the sinks at restaurants,etc., for example.

Some say that they don't like the chlorine in municipal tap water.

Get two jugs, fill one at the tap and let it sit in the sun for a while, then put it into the fridge, and fill the other one, leaving it in the sun for a while.

When the one in the fridge is empty ... I don't know what to suggest that you do with it.

Throw it out, I guess, and get some new ones ... people seem to be so enamored of pitching out so much stuff as garbage.

Oh - one can refill it at the tap and use it again, you say?

For maybe up to 5 years or so?

Well, fancy that!

ole joyful

    Bookmark   July 15, 2007 at 11:30PM
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Breton, you ask how to solve your problem ........ easy........ just get a plastic bag when you are low at home, and use your cloth bag other times. See?

I got a big canvas bag for carrying groceries, and one place I shop at even gives you an extra nickle back with your change (yaaay)if you bring in your own bag, of any kind, to carry your groceries, instead of gabbing one of theirs. If I don't have a lot of items that I have purchased, I just carry the items in my hand. What is so wrong about seeing someone walk down the street carrying a jar of peanut butter? Sometimes I just stick a couple of plastic ones in my pocket and use those if there are a lot of little, tiny items.

I do occasionally get the plastic bags or paper ones, at another store when I run low at home, and I use those for garbage and I haven't purchased a garbage bag EVER! EVER in my whole life! I use the large paper ones in a large plastic trash container and only put non-messy items in there. It takes a couple months to fill it. It is not going to stink becasue it is only junk mail and food packaging, and I avoid buying food that is not fresh and natural so I have very little coming into the house that is heavily packaged. The little plastic ones line a smaller trash receptacle and gets the messy stuff that cannot be composted. All cans, bottles, and newspapers must be recyled by law in my community. The newpapers are folded in half and put in a large paper bag from the grocery store. Cans and bottles are required to be put into the home recyling bins loose and not bagged for pick up.

I don't know what I will do if stores in my area start charging for bags. I guess then I will have to start buying them then when I need them.

If you have too many bags there are places that will take them. Our local farmers market has vendors who take them for reuse. They also take cardboard egg cartons and those plastic baskets that fruit comes in from the stores.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2007 at 12:22AM
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If you didn't bring a cotton or plastic bag and don't want to get a fresh one, and the stock clerks don't put intact cardboard boxes near rhe check-out, how about asking a stock person who has a cardboard box of appropriate size empty if you can have it?

Or, if one isn't empty yet, ask if he'll keep it for you when it's empty.

Or get two of about half the needed size (and at least one large enough to hold your biggest purchase). Fill the smallest one in your cart with the stuff you're buying, putting extra stuff into the cart loose.

When you get to check-out, put the second (larger, and empty) box on the bagging location and ask the clerk to fill it as s/he checks the goods out. Lift the first box, filled with stuff, up on the entry belt, with one easy movement. Then put the other things that you put into the cart piece by piece on the feed belt, and when the clerk has all of the stuff from the filled box checked through and put into what was the empty box, put the first box over on the bagging location and let her/him put the rest of the stuff into that.

I call that the lazy person's way of checking out (at stores where they sell us the bags, they drop them on the goods and we bag them ourselves).

Dad used to say that he didn't mind work ... but if he could let his head work to make less work for his hands, and get the job done well, that suited him just fine.

At the stores where they're free, usually they're located on a rack below the level of the inflow from the belt and scale, and the check-out person fills them, one by one.

I like to try to get boxes of about the size that files fit into nicely and store obsolete files in them. I use them for annual reports of mutual funds and companies whose shares that I own, as well.

And I like ones about the size that large mailed envelopes fit into, to store mail that isn't filed separately, or pitched (i.e. put into recycling box/pile) on arrival.

ole joyful

P.S. When the boxes of old files are filled, if the top flaps are too low to fold down, put a piece of plastic sheet or cloth over the top to keep the dust out. Much more convenient.

o j

    Bookmark   July 16, 2007 at 5:58PM
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I use the plastic bags for small waste paper cans such as in the bathroom and also to empty the cat litter. I use paper shopping bags for my recycling. When I go to the store I always have a canvas bag or two. When I am low on plastic or paper bags I just have groceries put in one of them. I shop often at Whole Foods and a canvas bag saves 10 cents !

    Bookmark   July 18, 2007 at 3:45PM
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My grocer had a sale on those bags and I got some but They just sit in the trunk of my car. I felt they just jumbled things up I prefer plastic and use the bags for all sorts of things around the house I also pack away seasonal decor using several at a time.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2007 at 8:35PM
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I use plastic grocery bags to line my kitchen trash basket. Once I ran out and I had to buy real trash bags. What a waste-spend money on something you intend to throw in the garbage. Those cloth bags aren't cheap. I saw them for $4. No, thanks.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2007 at 10:33AM
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Some ladies were packing their groceries into several black fabric bags, slightly larger that the plastic ones, but with larger bottom area, I think, at the store today and I asked the price ... 99 cents each.

They were putting their bags into the cart, and I put a 10 lb. bag of potatoes on the lower shelf for them, while waiting for my friend's shopping.

Another lady was packing her groceries into some slightly larger than usual thin plastic bags that she'd bought at checkout, for 5 cents each ... she must have had at least 10 of them.

Maybe I should have asked her why she didn't use some of the boxes, dozens of which were sitting in boxes by the window, 6 feet from her.

I'm far too frugal to pay 5 cents for a grocery bag ... that I'll probably only use once.

Surely my fertile mind can come up with a preferable way to fly!

My Grandma, who died in 1950, used to say, "Take care of the pennies ... and the pounds'll take care of themselves"!

And Grandma had never been anywhere near England ... did that stricture get handed down intact for a hundred years or so?

Actually ... one needs to learn how to make the pounds work well, as well ... as most traditional farmers were fairly skilled at doing.

Grandma used to say, "A penny saved is a penny earned," as well.

But Grandma was wrong - a penny saved equals $.01333 earned, if one is in 25% income tax bracket (after quite a while, that works out to needing to earn $1.33 in order to equal $1.00 saved).

I hope that you're all having a week that you can look back on with thankfulness and happiness.

ole joyful

    Bookmark   July 19, 2007 at 7:03PM
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joyful, I absolutely hate it when the DH brings stuff home in those cardboard box bottoms. They are hard for me to break down and harder to handle and get to the recycling center. I've tried to get him to keep an old laundry basket in his trunk and just take it in and load it up. That's what I do for the bagless places like Costco.

We have our recycling set up and 90% of the garbage is able to go there. We don't have curbside recycyling, so it does take some effort and I'm not sure the gas it takes to take the stuff is any more expensive than purchasing garbage bags. I dislike using grocery bags for trash. The bags from our stores have two small holes in the bottom. Seems like little wet crud always finds them. I do use them in the car and for small trash containers, but prefer to use the kind with the tie string. Our trash trucks seem to lose tons of garbage at the side of the road and I just prefer it not be mine.

jannie, I don't mind the cost of the canvas bags because I'm really trying to change our habits. I want my kids to see that we can bring home only the bags we can use and the rest of the time we need to use items which have a long life. I've had my bags for years and they haven't worn out. Probably $16? That's less than eating out one time. But a good lesson for their future, I think.


    Bookmark   July 21, 2007 at 12:13AM
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I don't buy the plastic bags but do use up the ones that are given out when I purchase groceries. I use them for the house garbage cans and they suit my purpose well. I have also taken bags back to the grocery store where they have a bag recycle bin and donated some to the local thrift stores (after checking to see if they were needed). I've also crocheted with them (cutting them into strips). I saw a plant pot (just one of the black plastic ones you purchase plants in from a nursery) with a crocheted style cover around it to hide the black and it looked quite nice, the plant was even stable in it. We carry plastic bags and cloth bags in the car so we are never caught short. I also carry 2 small bags in my purse, as soon as I use them and empty them back in they go....they don't take up much room and I am never without something to carry a few things home in. Budster

    Bookmark   July 22, 2007 at 7:40PM
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Hi again Bud,

Just think ...

... if you should decide to rob a bank some day, you could pull one of those bags over your head just before you walked in the door.

I/m not recommending that you do, of course!

o j

    Bookmark   July 23, 2007 at 8:26PM
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When my husband grocery shops, whiuch is most of the time, he asks for "paper in plastic". They open the brown paper bag and shove it inside the plastic bag. Makes it easier to load and carry. But then you have two bags. We could recycle them. Stores will take back the bags and may even offer you a few cents. But I like the brown paper bags to use when I clean my cat litter box. The bag's flat bottom will stand up by itself. Because I have two cats and one litter box, I must clean it daily. And the plastic bags make perfect waste basket liners throughout the house. As you can see, I'm neurotic about trash removal. So I appreciate and use all the bags I can get. Cloth bags just don't interest me.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2007 at 1:59PM
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There are biodegradable plastic bags out there and that is what I use in my kitchen/bath garbage cans. I can get them at one of my local grocery stores. I don't want to name brands, because of the spam rules.

I also use my canvas grocery bags at places other than the grocery store, like pet store, big-box store, etc. This weekend, I used them as beach totes, not that it saved any plastic, but they were the perfect size.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2007 at 3:23PM
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I agree with Bretonb, it is the time to see things practically. If we can re-use all the cloth bags and polythine bags then its an amazing achievement. Afterall, this world id our own

    Bookmark   July 31, 2007 at 2:09PM
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We use canvas bags that we have acquired over the years. several of them are from donations we made to charities- donate money get a complimentary bag. A few are from trade shows and we purchased 2 of the 99 cent bags. We keep bags in both cars and a couple in the garage we can add to either car. They work great for a lot of purposes. Farmers market, groceries, thrift stores, library books, beach trips and even food and snacks on road trips. They are washable and last indefinitely. One of the bags is 10 years old and still works great.
A couple of years ago I would take the bags to the local chain grocery and they would get put out if I said I didn't want plastic and had my own bags. Now they try to sell me their bags and have even offered to trade their bags for my old ones. Not going to trade as most of mine are canvas and theirs aren't as sturdy.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2009 at 11:34AM
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I have noticed that most of the reusable bags you can buy at the store dont look like they'd last long. I got a free one and am using it to store notebooks here at the house. It's already damaged.

I buy canvas bags at garage sales for $.25-.50. I haven't actually made it to a store with them, but they are great for organizing. All the swimsuits go in one and floaties and blow-up toys in another. When we go on vacation, I take one along for shoes and another for jackets. If you get a little bit bigger tote, you use it to keep everyone's dirty laundry.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2009 at 3:17PM
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We use cloth bags-some we got free at the grocery store- they sometimes give them away with a min purchase. This week I got a free one at CVS. We use LLBean bags that we've had for years. I use them at the grocery store and Target. I always have one in the car. As for trash cans- our city requires we use city bags so we have to buy them anyway. For small bins around the house we line but don't throw the bag away unless it gets ripped or yucky. I get .5 off a bag when I shop and helping cut down on waste.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2009 at 4:57PM
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i just use the bags the store gives me, those plastic ones, great for garbage later, or bringing my lunch to work, also make great decorations in the trees, and along the road stuck to the fence, great entertainment watching the dancing bags on a windy day.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2009 at 7:06PM
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I normally use all the bags I get. But one of our local stores had a sale on the nylon bags for 50 ea so I bought some. They are now going to give 5¢ credit for each one you use. Now in reality, how will they know how many you use when they ring in the credit? I imagine if you bring 6 you'll get credit for 6 even if you use 3 or use 9. Just a guess. Also they gave credit for using the bags when purchased so with the initial credit, they're now 45¢ each which means they're paid for after 9 more uses, then will start to compensate me for them.

I still plan to use the plastic bags to put meat and produce into before going into the nylon bag, but it will save them two paper handle bags which probably saves them a nickel at least or more. When I managed c-stores 15 years ago the large paper bags cost us a nickel.

My thought was I can still use the bags for other things if it doesn't work out well for groceries. And I'm leaving them in my vehicle so I have them for an impulse stop rather than cursing that they're at home doing nothing. So it remains to be seen how it works out for the garbage use.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2009 at 2:04PM
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My daughter and I go together once a week and shop for our groceries. We both have larger blue bags and some have insulated linings in them. They zip shut. Last winter we started taking them into the grocery and the clerks would fill them. That part was all fine, but for me to have to load them up in the truck and then unload at home, it is just too hard on me. So now I just take my blue bags and leave them in the truck and put the things that need to be refrigerated in them. We don't throw away any of the plastic bags. All are reused somewhere. Lots of times they are used up at the rummage sales we have over summer.


    Bookmark   April 1, 2009 at 6:20PM
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We use canvas bags and some string bags I got in Germany 30 years ago. If we get any plastic bags, we recycle them. The thin plastic bags can go in the recycle bin at the grocery store. The heavy plastic bags (department store bags, etc) can't be recycled (!) and so we take them to the thrift store, as they always need bags.

Plastic bags are really bad for the environment. There is talk that states will pass a law that the stores can't use plastic bags. I think this would be a good idea. I see too many on the side of the road, in trees, fences, etc.

We empty all the trash cans once/week, but it's just the two of us. This reminds me that I meant to look for biodegradable trash bags. I don't like the idea of dumping loose trash into my garbage can because it can blow around on trash pick up day if it is windy.

Think about it - those plastic bags we get for "free" at the grocery store are not really free because we are paying the cost for the county to recycle or otherwise dispose of them. Landfills are a huge waste of taxes.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2009 at 11:03PM
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I use the plastic bags, but sometimes if I know I am going shopping I will take two plastic bags from home. And I use the plastic bags for my garbage too.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2009 at 2:03AM
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recently I have had to start shipping a "goodie box" to my son back in the midwest. I have found that plastic bags work wonderfully for filling in the empty spots, wrapping breakable items etc. And the bonus, they dont' weight that much so I don't have to purchase packing peanuts. Also if wrapped and taped around something that might leak they work well too. hmmm how have you recycled those bags?
for the grocery store, I have slowly switched over to my own reusable bags, however I have a very large family and I buy 100's of dollars of groceries at one time, so its taking me a while. The kids do love the new bags, easier to grab the handles holds more etc. I have started to carry those bags in the trunks of the cars as well as the plastic ones never know when you need them.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2009 at 9:54AM
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We got 10 free reuse bags out of canvas. I use reusable bags for some things like the library, but not for the store as yet. Someday the plastic shopping bags will cost us money or be non available due to crude oil shortages.

In the meantime I always get extra plastic bags at the store as we use them for many purposes at home. But family trash is not one of them as we produce lots of trash and have giant black bags for that purpose.

If your frugal sort I'd advise to grabbing the free plastic bags and save the money you spend for the trash bags ...unless your desire for conservation outweighs your frugalness.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2009 at 4:28PM
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Several weeks ago, I witnessed the silliest thing ever. I was in a grocery line behind a man with a cart fill of food. Also had about six of those cloth bags. Great, I thought. then the clerk started filling plastic bags with the purchases, then opened up a cloth bag and dropped in the grocery-laden plastic bag. The man said nothing, just collected his "double" bags of groceries and left the store.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2009 at 1:55PM
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One of the problems with the new 'reusable bag' policy is that every store has their own rules about how it is done.

One local chain in my area, Pick and Save, would only give the credit if the reusable bag you brought in had been pruchased from them. Most people shop at many different stores. Who has the time to keep track of various different bags with different logos on them for each store?!? The outcry from shoppers has caused them to recently change their stupid policy on this to allow any reusable bag to be used.

I shopped at Whole Foods one day when they put their first store in my state. The cashier would not give me the allowed credit because I was using a knapsack!!!! She said it HAD to be a grocery bag that I used and knapsacks did not count. I found this to be ridiculous and told her so, but she was unfazed. I mean really, what is the difference if I used a bag with two handles or one with two staps so I can carry it on my back?? The only difference is the placement of the handles/strapson the nylon/canvas bag. Apparently how one chooses to carry their big load of groceries, is a very important issue to Whole Foods regarding their reusable bag policy. Pfffft. Another reason not to go out of my way to shop there.

Another store in my arera, does not charge for bags nor do they give a discount for bringing your own. What they do instead is to stamp a little booklet that you have to remember to bring and carry around with you all the time. The last time I hauled mine out to be stamped the cashier chuckled and said they don't do that anymore and that program has been cancelled. So I can just toss that two thirds filled booklet in the trash I guess.

Some places only give credit for fancy nylon/canvas bags and reusing previous paper/plastic store bags does not count nor does bringing in a reused cardboard box.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2009 at 2:38PM
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I've been thinking about buying some of the WalMart bags since we shop there often but I do use the plastic for my small waste paper baskets and for throwing stuff out that shouldn't go in the disposal. If I buy the cloth ones then there goes my free liners. Also I wonder if those cloth bags are going to last very long.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2009 at 4:39PM
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Question??? I understand using a liner in the kitchen trash, but why in the bathroom? If you care about the environment, recycle those bags and empty the bathroom trash into the kitchen trash.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2009 at 4:41PM
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My kids throw all kinds of gross stuff into the bathroom trash. I reuse the plastic bags for that because I don't enjoy cleaning out trashcans. Not to be gross, but there is plenty of stuff in the adult bathroom trashcan that I don't wish to parade through to the kitchen either. I usually use recycled bags for that trashcan too. Then I can tie them up and put them in the big garbage can for the garbage man to take away.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2009 at 5:42PM
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One of my neighbors just told me that our local WMT is no longer going to be using plastic bags. They are selling bags for 50 cents each for a limited time and then they will go to $1. I've not seen the bags so I don't know how durable they're going to be. I made a bunch of cloth bags for when I go to Aldi, and all I did was cut apart a WMT plastic bag and use that for a pattern. It's funny that, even though the only difference between the plastic bag and my cloth bag is the material it's made of, my cloth bags hold twice as much as the plastic bags do. Of course it's the strength of the fabric. Can you imagine putting four 5-lb. bags of flour into a plastic bag? The handles would tear off the first time you tried to pick it up. I had a jar of mayo break through the plastic once. I had mayo and broken glass right in front of my door and had to practically fight the dog to keep him away from it till I could get it cleaned up!

I have long been annoyed at the glut of plastic bags littering our city. So I'm kind of glad to see this change. On the other hand, I do use the bags I get for trash, so I will have to work something else out. I'm with Adella, bathroom trash is sometimes yucky and I tie my bathroom trash liners shut and then put the bag inside my kitchen trash bag before I tie it shut. One of my garbage collectors is a neighbor and I really don't like the idea of him knowing that much personal stuff about me and my family.

I use the bags also when I have a garage sale.

I remember when I was a kid, going to a grocery store in our small town. There were no sacks, not even paper ones. Just a roll of paper at the end of the counter. Our purchases were wrapped together in the paper and tied with string. At home, we used the paper all kinds of ways, from making patterns to lining drawers, to coloring on, and Mom saved the string, or threw it out on the ground for the birds.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2009 at 9:48AM
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One local store now has a sign up telling customers not to put groceries in those canvas bags until AFTER they are paid for.They want you to use only the stores own carts or handbaskets. I guess shoplifters had been using canvas bags as part of their "game". I have two and use them in the OTHER store in my town. I keep them in my car between shopping trips. I avoid the store with the sign. It's a terrible store with very little selection. There's been a rumor for months that they are closing soon. Guess too much shoplifting, haha!

    Bookmark   April 21, 2009 at 1:28AM
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I happen to like and use the plastic bags. I am 68 and I just can't carry anything heavy. I can only carry 2 qt bottles in a bag. I shop for a family of 4, once every 2 weeks(we live out in the boonies) and I come home with a trunkload of stuff. It takes a lot of bags to hold it all. My state is talking about having a law that will put a 5 cent charge for every plastic bag we take. I just don't know what I will do. I give the used bags to the local thrift shop and they are happy to get them.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2009 at 11:22PM
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Why in the world would anyone put groceries in bags BEFORE they are paid for? They just have to be taken out at the register.

Caavonldy, Why don't you have them fill up the cloth bags, have a carry out boy put them in the car and when you get home put what you can carry in another cloth bag and take it in, empty it, take it back to the car for more. It wouldn't be anymore work than what you do now.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2009 at 7:47PM
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Love the cloth bags! I was lucky to get 6 very sturdy ones more than 10 years ago when I was at a buying show for the Drug store I worked at. I still use them to this day! (Long handles that you can sling on your shoulder to carry heavy stuff into the house with)

Some of the new ones are quite flimsy and the stitching is not strong enough to hold the weight I like to pack into my bags. Plus I wonder how many people have bought bags and only used them once or twice and then thrown them away?
*Please note I do not mean anyone here at this forum, I am talking about the other shoppers, you know who they are!
Wally had a note that they had over 1,000,000 reusable bags bought last year... yet I don't beleive 1/2 of them get used more then once or twice.

I never put fresh meat in my canvas bags and they don't need to be washed as often that way. (yes that will go into a new plastic bag which I will re-use)

Most stores here are still offering bags, Superstore is the only place charging and I don't shop there often

Safeway this week (Canada) has a promo that if you buy 2 Kraft products you get 2 free re-usable bags. Of course I took them and will use them, but only for lighter products as they are that very thin material. *I never turn down a free bag

We do use the plastic bags for garbage liners and the kids take them for lunch bags (because to take a nice cloth lunch bag would mean they would have to remember to bring it home!) But I am very lucky to have a mother in town that has NEVER thrown a thing away and I can just grab 20-30 for spares if I run out.

Life is good and it is always nice to see people trying to make our earth more green


    Bookmark   May 12, 2009 at 4:38PM
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I like to line all my wastebaskets and kitchen waste with plastic bags from the grocery store. When Safeway started selling cloth bags I bought several and carry them in the trunk of the car so they're there when I want to use them. I ran out of my plastic bags for the wastebaskets so next time I went to the store I took home some of the extra plastic bags people had brought to the store for recycling. Now I have the best of both worlds!

    Bookmark   May 19, 2009 at 1:02PM
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I've had my reuseable bags for a while now and they're working better than I expected. I was wondering how it would work to bring them in and would I forget them when I went to the store again. And other concerns on sanitation, etc.

First, for the meat, yes, that goes into a plastic bag. I still put it in my bag to qualify although I did get my credit so it didn't really matter. They actually hold more than I thought they would. When I get home and empty the groceries, I put all the bags into one and leave it sit by the back door and when I go out again I put it into the car where they're ready to be reused. I only use them at one store right now, Rainbow gives the 5¢ per bag credit and I've used them about 3 times now so after 6 more uses, they're reimbursed. I'm doing a little more shopping than I used to so they'll get used more. Once I'm more used to them, I'll probably start using them at other stores, hopefully they'll give a credit too.

I too use a liner in a bathroom wastebasket. I use it for sanitation purposes. I don't like the idea of used q-tips, fem products, used kleenex or toilet paper being tossed in there unlined. However I will dump it into another bag and reuse the bag more than once. I spray the bag with Lysol, which I do occasionally anyway. I don't really understand someone NOT using a liner in a wastebasket in a kitchen or bathroom.

So as far as the topic on whether they truly SAVE money? Well, they probably will in my case, eventually. Should be within a few months unless they change the policy on the credit. For Aldi, I think I might still reuse paper bags. I think the sanitation level would be better, and especially if I get something exposed like produce or something like meat I'd prefer paper or plastic or a box.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2009 at 5:39PM
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I don't save any money by using them, but I have been using them for a year or more and like them alot.

I was in line at walmart customer service the other day, and some body brought in 3 bundles of plastic bags to recycle and they gave him 3 free cloth bags! I had no idea. I don't know if it's all stores or just this one, but I'm going to get a few. I usually just stick 'em in the recycle box by the front of the store.

Even using cloth bags, the plastic ones still make it in the house.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2009 at 11:27AM
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I picked up several of the cloth bags over the past year, and I far prefer them to plastic bags. I can fit more in them, I've never had them tear, and if they get something spilled on them, I toss them in the wash. I've also used them quite often when taking things like gifts to someone else's house. Some of the grocery stores around here will also take off .05 for each bag used. Pays for themselves after 20 trips.

At home, we used to have plastic bags in each of the trash cans. After a while of doing this, I noticed that only 3 of the trash cans had anything wet going into them. The two bathrooms, and the one the cat litter was going into. We still have the bags in the bathroom trash cans, but the bags don't get tossed into the trash unless something extremely wet is in there. For the kitty litter, I used an old plastic container with a latching lid to hold the feces until trash day. It seals up well, no smells, and I just dump it in the main trash bag each week.

Once we run out of plastic bags, which at our rate will be in about 20 years, we'll just wash the trash cans if they get nasty. I'll dump the water and gunk into the compost bin for moisture.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2009 at 11:19PM
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While the attached recent study was funded by the plastic bag industry, the findings still come as no surprise. Meats and produce can cause problems, just as they do on our cutting boards.

Since this forum is about saving money rather than going green, as the article points out, one way to address the potential hazards is to wash the cloth bags regularly, which costs money!

Somewhat of a dilemma for me. While not a green fanatic, I sort of understand the rationale for the reusable cloth bags. But if I have to use cloth for this, plastic for that, or line my cloth bags with plastic, and wash those heavy canvas bags regularly (and they probably take a few cycles to dry; and do they shrink?), I almost reach the point of throwing in the towel and declaring that it's not worth the trouble and cost. However, that's just me.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2009 at 12:25AM
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This is a real bugaboo for me!!

It galls me to think that the stores are profiting from the move to cloth bags. It cost 1.7 cents for the plastic bags the stores used to give for free. Now they are charging 5 cents and fabricland is charging 50 cents per bag. None of that money goes to the environment, it goes to the stores.

My grocery cashier had the gall to say that these were better because they were made from recycled plastic water bottles. Plastic water bottles are much more of a problem in landfills than plastic bags, but what is the difference between making bags out of some or throwing the bottles in the trash. At least you can reuse the bags for other things

Then there's the cost of the cloth bags. I'm sure the stores are making a profit on them too.

I understand the need to reduce garbage going to the landfill, but I wonder if anyone ever thought that using cloth bags was causing as much pollution as plastic bags.

Cloth bags have to be washed, or you court the risk of samonella or other bacteria. All that soap is going into our sewage plants, so are we trading one problem for another.

How much more sensible would it be to recycle newspapers and waste paper and cardboard into paper grocery bags and use boxes too for packing groceries. Our store used to have boxes for groceries but since they have these recycled plastic bags, the boxes have disappeared from the front of the store. Paper bags and boxes were what was used before plastic bags came on the scene, why couldn't they be used again.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2009 at 1:33AM
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Around here the bags are NOT cloth or canvas. They were 10 years ago but not now. They're nylon I believe. And you don't have to put them in a separate cycle to wash them - just put them in with something else and no it doesn't cost anything to wash at that point. Hang them to dry and they'll dry rapidly so again no cost. Even if you had a bunch to wash, and wanted to be frugal, it would be simple to soak them a while, pull them out, give a quick rinse, hang and dry and you could reuse the wash water for other items.

To say it costs money to wash them is kind of nit picky IMO. Few people have loads that could not handle one, two or more of these bags. They're about the size of a kid's t-shirt in volume. Actually they wouldn't need to go the full cycle. Probably could spray them with some cleaner and use the garden hose on them or wash them in the laundry tub.

Here again, I think it's getting to the point where people are trying to rationalize not using them. If you are so against them, don't use them. I didn't think they'd be saving me anything but so far they're working better than I thought. I enjoy convenience and thought they'd be a hassle. FOR ME, they aren't. I think a lot of people might be surprised. You could even use a couple if you're so scared of meat juices and the like or to try them out to see. I have other uses for them so I just picked up a bunch for the cost of sales tax. I'm about 1/2 way to getting reimbursed for the cost of the others that I have. Two uses each of the new ones at the store (assuming they'll give credit for them will reimburse me for the sales tax too so the capital outlay cost will be nothing. Projecting continued use, even for just a year should easily put me into the black for using them and if I don't use them after that or if the store no longer credits for them, I'll still have them for other uses or I might just feel better about the environmental benefits. I'm not a tree hugger, but I do believe in having trees around to enjoy, produce oxygen, attract wildlife and look at.

Seems easy enough to use the reuseable for dry goods and use paper/plastic for exposed foods/meats. If everyone did this, think about the impact still. It's not an "all or nothing" situation folks! You can use 1 reuseable and the rest disposeable, or 2+ the others or 3 or more. It could vary. And you know, those paper towles don't need to be put in a bag. Like when I turned down the bag for a jug of dishsoap, I dind't need a bag for it and got a pleasant surprise. 50¢ credited to me. BTW, that alone paid for more than one of the bags I bought or about 7 or 8 of my recent bag purchases. I forgot about that. Just struck me.

I'm still not too sure what'll happen for trash & recycling bags but I think I'll adapt.

From the linked article:
"Should we abandon our growing pile of reusable bags and beg our shopkeepers to continue dispensing food-grade plastic?"
Uh, I don't believe the paper or plastic bags are, in fact, "food-grade" plastic or paper. Kind of destroys their credibility.

And for the ones who are paranoid about sanitation on reuseable bags, I'm just wondering if you've taken a look in your coolers or travel mugs lately? I wonder how they test out?

    Bookmark   June 6, 2009 at 9:46PM
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Plastic bags are made from petroleum, which took millions of years to develop, but the amount of which the world had used prior to a hundred years ago you could stick in your eye ... but of which we've been using huge quantities during that hundred years.

Though it may be a different part of the petroleum than that used for gasoline, I prefer to use it for gas in my tank more than for producing a grocery bag.

Especially since I can use a renewable resource to make a grocery bag. I can wash the bag easily, it takes only a small amount of detergent, and I hang it on the clothesline to dry through much of the year, and I found recently that I can wash and hang clothes on the line in a mild spell in winter, and have enough of various kinds of clothing that I can let them pile up in the laundry basket for some time during the winter.

The manufacture and distribution of a plastic bag to use for its primaryy purpose only once, uses more precious energy, which also results in pollution and global warming.

As the grocery store sends the cardborad boxes and trays to the recyclers, and they are picked up with the recycling materials at my place, it seems wise for me to use the cardboard to carry my groceries home (and I use them for carrying post-spun washed clothes to the wash line, for carrying garden produce to the church to share, etc. before sending them to the recycler.

We've become big-time wasters in the past couple of generations - with a world overloaded with six or seven billion, many of whom have plans to become bigger consumers in future ...

... we need to clean up our act.

Our grandkids will have some choice things to say about our profligate habits.

ole joyful

    Bookmark   June 7, 2009 at 3:12AM
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My son worked as a bagger at a grocery store this summer. He said the reusable bags are every bagger's nightmare! If he loaded them up, they were too heavy and customers complain. If he didn't load them all the way, other customers complained they weren't full. He said the baggers just can't win with the reusable bags. Most are made from really cheap material that will tear if they are overloaded.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2011 at 4:35AM
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i think they do save you money in the long run, and they help the environment out a lot. when you run out of plastic bags for trash, next time you go to the grocerey store, just don't use the cloth ones that you own. easy

    Bookmark   October 25, 2011 at 7:32PM
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Haven't been paying a nickel a bag for the plastic jobbies.

Several stores have empty cardboard cartons and produce trays near checkout, and I use them, then use them to haul garden produce to the churches, social agencies, son and landlord's places.

And take a tray from a store that provides them into the store that doesn't, to use there ... instead of parting with that nickel ... and they don't give credit for bags brought back (not that I know of, at least).

Sometimes take the cloth or heavier plastic ones ... and I agree that some of them are flimsy, the handles will break or the bag'll split if overloaded.

As for people ... they just seem to stretch, when overloaded. What's that that they say, "You can't buy beer - only rent it!"!

ole joyful

    Bookmark   November 27, 2014 at 4:31PM
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These are some really good ideas to save money. There are stores here that make use of plastic bags for our purchases. I use these bags as garbage container. This way, I don't need to purchase garbage bags most of the time. I only do when I'm running out of plastic bags.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2014 at 11:00PM
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Last time I bought trash bags I paid 13.88 for 150 (about .09 a bag)
We recycle and compost. We only line the kitchen trash (if I had anything messy I would just take it to kitchen trash) so we use 1 bag a week.

All my cloth bags were freebies from stores or yard sale finds for the canvas (usually $1 or less) I keep several in the car so I never forget . I use cloth bags because it's better for the environment, easier to bring groceries into the house, less damage to bread and fruit in better bags, and I just detest having all those bags.

But if the motivation is purely economical.....our store gives us .05 a bag and I usually have 5-6 (I'm sure I could stretch that out) So it's still cheaper for me to buy real trash bags every other year and use my cloth bags. I fact I'm pocketing some money.


    Bookmark   January 18, 2015 at 4:32PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

and if you feed birds you have a nearly unlimited supply of bags to line the trash cans with....


    Bookmark   January 18, 2015 at 4:42PM
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