Challengicious Monday: Switch to Cloth Bags

>> Monday, January 18, 2010

Mondays are challengicious at The Conscious Shopper. Here's your next challenge:

Switch to cloth bags.

To complete this challenge, you can...

  • Bag your groceries in cloth. Gather a collection of cloth bags and take them with you every time you go to the grocery store. Paper or plastic? Neither for you!
  • Bag your produce in cloth. If you're already using cloth to bag your groceries, take it to the next level - say byebye to those thin plastic produce bags by bringing your own cloth produce bags. These bags are also useful for the farmer's market.
  • Become a full time cloth bag user. Never bring home a plastic bag again! Take your cloth bags with you every time you shop.
This is one challenge where I'm happy to say I rock! Check out The Green Phone Booth later this week, where I'll tell you about the end of plastic bags in my home.

Will you take the challenge?

You have hereby been challenged to go green in a year without going broke! Check out the last challenge, or view the whole list of Challengicious Mondays.

Like what you see? Sign up for my RSS feed, follow me on Twitter, and join my "Go Green without Going Broke" group on Facebook! You can also find me over at The Green Phone Booth.


Robbie January 18, 2010 at 6:56 AM  

I think the bigger challenge is not in buying the cloth bags - it's getting retailers to buy into the fact you brought them!

I've lost count of the times I have brought my green bags into Kroger and I get an eye roll as I put them on the counter. I even had an instance at a resale shop Saturday where I said I didn't need a big (come on, it was a package of invites and a ziploc bag of Barbie clothes) and her response was "I've already got it bagged." No thanks!

Faith January 18, 2010 at 9:01 AM  

I used to have a ton of those 99 cent bags from every grocery store. I loved the long handles but hated their capacity. So I just went all out and spent about $45 on some very solid bags called RuMe. They hold 50 lbs each and roll up to fit in my purse. I am now a cloth bag marathon runner (at the grocery store at least)...PLUS people love the bags and ask where I got them.

But I agree with Robbie, people freak out if you ask for no bag or say you have your own outside of a grocery store.

DramaMama January 18, 2010 at 9:15 AM  

I have found lately that even our local grocery store is offering 5cents off for each bag I bring! I hope that trend catches on for all of you! I just wanted to add that I have been tinkering w/making my own produce bags. I have some that I have made out of toule (like the wedding/decorating netting stuff) and yarn. I find lots of scraps of it at craft stores in the 'ends' bargain bin. There's usually enough to make 2 bags! I just thread the yarn through the edges. At the top, I can cinch it off or tie a knot. I have tried to sew an edging on it to make them stronger, but so far haven't perfected it. I have also seen plans online for using those sheer curtains, but have yet to give that a go either. I have been doing so good w/cloth bags and just want to encourage others that the produce bags don't have to come at a big price =)

Deanna January 18, 2010 at 9:16 AM  

I live in a small, rural town in Oklahoma, not exactly a hot-bed of environmental consciousness. When I first started using my own bags I actually had to get a friend from Seattle to send some to me because none of the stores here had them for sale.

Slowly but surely store clerks at the places I frequent are getting used to me and my bags. I've actually had people ask why I did this - "Don't you like our bags?". I'm getting to do a little bit of educating each time I use them.

Erin aka Conscious Shopper January 18, 2010 at 10:43 AM  

One time I actually had a sales clerk at a clothing store tell me it was store policy that I couldn't use my own bag. But then I must have looked so distraught that she relented. Lol, most of the time people are really nice about it as long as I present the bag first thing. At the grocery store, I put my bags on the conveyor belt before the groceries so they see the bags right away. And I think they appreciate if you're willing to help bag the groceries because cloth slows them down.

@DramaMama - I have a tutorial at the green phone booth for making produce bags out of a shower curtain.

Brenda January 18, 2010 at 11:24 AM  

This subject has been on my mind lately too. In fact I wrote a draft yesterday to post on my blog later this week on this same subject. My grocery store let's us enter a contest everytime we use our canvas bags, the prize is $25. Not bad. We also use the cotton net produce bags and some of the cashiers have commented favorably. Although I got an eyeroll from a young teller this weekend.

Wonder-ful January 18, 2010 at 12:08 PM  

Our local store as well as Target advertise that you get five cents off for every reusable bag you use. Since I only go when it's time to stock up, I invested in the set of reusable bags from Costco. They come in a three pack, have a set of long and short handles, are heavy duty and hold a lot.

I actually ran into the problem of having too many of the little canvas bags. I wound up with over a dozen from my old job (on top of the ones the grocers sold, and my costco bags). I use them when we purge and give away stuff (like all the little body washes I can't use). I just put my freebees in a canvas bag and tell whoever is getting the items just how they can use the bags in the future ;)

Kellie January 18, 2010 at 12:38 PM  

There's a local store I hate, but have to visit every so often (rhymes with Sprawl-Mart) where I've been told twice that I'd have to bag my own groceries if I wanted to use my own bags. Crazy!

But I'm proud to say I'm a marathon runner in this challenge. No plastic for us!

Erin aka Conscious Shopper January 18, 2010 at 9:10 PM  

@Kellie - That's funny considering the announcement I saw today that several Walmart's in California are going to start charging for plastic bags to encourage people to bring their own.

Faith January 19, 2010 at 9:18 AM  

Kellie, that is interesting. It seems that Wal-Mart is the one non-grocery place where I run into the friendliest cloth bag cashiers. Only once, at the self-checkout no less, did someone get very confused about why I wasn't using the "nicely supplied plastic bags."

Eco Yogini January 19, 2010 at 12:03 PM  

interesting- there seems to be a difference between Canada and (some) states!

In Nova Scotia, most grocers either charge for plastic bags (5-10cents) or encourage shoppers to purchase their version of the reusable bag, similar experiences when I lived in Montreal and British Columbia.

I never even get an eye blink for my produce bags anymore- even at the Superstore!

Although not as common, I rarely get much of a reaction when I refuse bags at clothing stores- even when it's to put my purchase in my bag!! haha. I feel a bit like i'm shoplifting almost, shoving my new shirt or books in my purse.... but if it fits why do we need a bag?

cool- here i thought Nova Scotia was being so conservative, at least there are a few areas that Canadians are doing well :)

Erin aka Conscious Shopper January 19, 2010 at 7:14 PM  

@Eco Yogini - Canada is ahead of the U.S. in so much more than bags...

Condo Blues January 20, 2010 at 5:06 PM  

It was easier to get into the reusable shopping bag habit when two of my main grocery stores either charge for plastic bags or have a drawing for a free bag of groceries if you bring your own reusable bag. My summer farm market doesn't supply bags so it's best to bring your own.

I can't get rid of plastic produce bags completely though. The grocery store where I buy winter produce freaks out if I don't use their produce bags. Fortunately I have a dog, and my city requires me to bag pet waste so at least I can get a reuse out of those plastic bags I do get.

Lisa Sharp January 24, 2010 at 2:37 AM  

Deanna above (that talked about living in a rural town in Oklahoma) is my mom, so I run in to some of the same things. We however mostly shop in a near by bigger town (Norman) at local natural food stores that are more used to the idea.

I don't know when the last time I ended up with a plastic bag was. I make myself carry the items if I forget one but I try and keep one in my purse and there are two in our car.

I hope that my using them will get more people in this not so environmental part of the country used to them. I even keep a few extras with me when I go grocery shopping so if someone says something like "I should start using my own bags" I can just give them one. :)

Ashley,  May 29, 2010 at 10:38 PM  

I live in a big town in Oklahoma, and I still have problems. Even with 'the Wal-marts' (as we say around here' carrying their own reausble bags. Finally Target started refunding 5 cents per bag, and Whole Foods refunds 10 cents (and doesn't even carry plastic bags anymore). I still get the sigh and eyeroll, but I had a Target cashier sincerely thank me for bringing my own bags once! Like my favorite Gandi quote, "you must be the change you wish to see in the world". One eyeroll at a time!
@ Lisa-Thanks for the great idea about giving away extra bags. Now I can spread the word and thin my collection.

Jessica November 5, 2010 at 10:04 PM  

A random tip for those who are thinking of switching to cloth bags...I've had people ask me how I store my produce once I get home. Just get a couple big Glad containers (the ones I have are about 9x9" square and 5" deep) and keep it all in there. :)

viagra online December 23, 2010 at 1:01 PM  

haha nice website, I usually use my backpack for everything, market, cloths, smalls trips, but I never think in take a challenge like this, thanks I'll think about it when I got sometime.

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