How can we make re-usable shopping bag programs work even better?

Exciting progress is being made as grocery shoppers bring re-useable bags to the check-out. But, at home, we like plastic grocery bags for our indoor waste cans. Many people “forget” their re-useables on purpose when their stockpile runs low. It’s a decades old routine in dealing with our garbage…used grocery bags line kitchen and bathroom waste cans which are tied off and put in a big garbage bag for streetside pickup. How are smart people ecologically solving this problem?

If a useful array of answers appears, I will print them to display on the grocery store bulletin board. Perhaps others will do the same and we will be part of making this sensible and enviro-wise program even better. Thanks everyone who replies.



  1. 0 Votes

    I think that a great idea would be to have re-useable share bags available at the store.  We have 3 well made cloth bags in each vehicle, but sometimes they have been taken in the house, unloaded and left on the table by the door as someone forgot to pick them up on the way out.  If there was a system where when someone forgot their bags – they could grab a couple of those and then bring them back it would be great. 

    I’m not sure we’re discussing the same types of re-useable bags however as we don’t use plastic grocery bags or paper unless we have to and we never forget them on purpose because we bought and paid for them and they will last years.  We actually use recycled trash bags for garbage rather than those from the grocery store – see link below.

    • 0 Votes

      V – much thanks for thoughtful response. We’re talking about same type of reuseabe cloth bag. But your idea of a “help yourself” bag of bags for those who “forgot” would be great. I don’t wish to buy bags – even recycled ones – since I’m trying to reduce plastic in my life til it just doesn’t exist – so thanx much for your response. I’m talking to my storekeeper tomorrow about this. L

  2. 0 Votes

    Here’s one simple solution: rather than using the free (and incredibly convenient) plastic grocery bags as trash can liners, why not purchase a set of custom fit liners from For only $92.23 you can purchase 480 rectangular, 6.5 gallon liners.

    On the other hand, you could eliminate the plastic bags all together by switching to a rigid and reusable trash can liner. This solution would entail dumping the waste from smaller trash cans into larger receptacles for pickup, but it gives you the opportunity to ditch those plastic grocery bags and embrace the re-usable. 

    Finally, perhaps re-usable shopping bag programs could be further improved through policy. For example, Kauai passed their Plastic Bag Reduction ordinance in October of 2009. This new law requires that all retail establishments provide their customers with only paper or re-usable bags. And without the option to load up on plastic shopping bags, rigid trash can liners start to look a lot more appealing. 

    • 0 Votes

      J – thanks for useful answer. Think I’ll forgo plastic liner altogether as you suggest. I’d hesitaed since animal problem could eave a person garbage picking but that can be minimized by timing of putting out garbage. Thx. L

  3. 0 Votes

    My local grocery store no longer carries plastic bags, so that definitely helps with the “forgetting.” I have three mesh bags for produce, but they usually are not enough, so I still end up with a few thin plastic ones. But, I’ve been using those instead of the larger ones at the register for garbage liners. They need a little stretching to fit in my little garbage can, and it took some practice, but they work just as well. 

    • 0 Votes

      T – much thanks. So, your grocery store actually took the big step and stopped offering plastic alogether. Bravo to them – it’s a gutsy step. That’s the end result we’re looking for. Appreciate your thoughts. L

  4. mle
    0 Votes

    We are changing culture by moving away from disposable shopping bags to customers bringing their own reusable bags.  Culture changes slowly.  How can we make this change occur faster?

    I like that tutt47 said that her store no longer carries plastic bags – that seems like the ultimate solution!  Stores could also not supply a bag unless the patron asks for one and stores could charge for these bags. 

    Community challenges such as the CAST Reusable Bag Challenge provide attention and incentive to the issue.

    • 0 Votes

      Thanks M –
      The citation you noted was great – makes me enthused to get something like that going here. I live on an island of about 20,000 residents in 5 sepaarate towns – we could get behind that kind of a challenge I think. L

Please signup or login to answer this question.

Sorry,At this time user registration is disabled. We will open registration soon!