June 2019, by Julius Abendan
10 Ways to Make the Transition to Reusable Bags
Most of us are so used to a certain lifestyle we become shocked when confronted by just how wasteful it is. Little things like using an eco-friendly bag often slip our minds because we’re so used to using plastic bags.
And since the little things tend to count the most, making tiny changes in our lives, such as bringing a reusable bag wherever you go, can make be enough to make a significant impact on preserving the environment.
If you’ve never used a reusable bag before, here are a few tips to make the transition easier.
1. Keep One With You, No Matter Where You Go
The thing is, you’ll never know when you might need a small reusable bag, so it’s a good idea to keep one with you no matter where you go. The good news is that many stores such as supermarkets now sell these reusable bags for a few dollars, which may be more than the few cents you pay for single-use plastic bags, but remember, these bags last practically forever when cared for.
Keep it in your handbag, your backpack, even your back pocket so you’ll never have an excuse to use a plastic bag again.
2. The More Bags, the Better
Most people make the mistake of only buying one or two reusable bags.
However, the more bags you have, the better. Say you only have two bags, and you’re out doing the groceries. The next day, you have to go buy something from the department store or the convenience store. You drive over there and realise that your two reusable bags are at home, with your groceries.
So you’re left with no choice but to use a plastic bag. This sticky situation could have been avoided if you had kept a couple of extra reusable bags in the car.
3. Keep Them in the Car
The bags stay in the car, not on the counter at home. It’s a common experience for those who want to cut back on plastic bags but still end up using plastic bags anyway because they left their eco-friendly bag at home.
Always return your reusable bag to the car after you use them. Most of the time, you’ll never know when you’re going to go out for a quick errand or when you’re going to need them for an unexpected purchase. Once you’re done unloading your groceries or purchases in the house, make it a point to take the bags back out to the car.
4. If You Have Two Cars, Make Sure They Both Have Bags
Many households have two cars, so it’s a wise move to place reusable bags in both cars. Sometimes we end up using whichever car is easier to drive out the garage. Keep a couple of reusable bags in the trunk of each car.
This way, even if you switch cars, you still have reusable bags to use when you go to the store.
5. Tell The Cashier You Have A Bag Ready
Never be ashamed to tell the cashier you have a reusable bag with you. Shops and grocery store cashiers will bag items as fast as they can to keep the line going, especially if there are many customers.
To make sure they’ll bag your items in your reusable bag, tell them you have one. Put it on the counter before you start taking out the items from your cart or basket. If you forgot your bag in the car, go ahead and tell the cashier or bagger that you left your bag and run to your car to get it.
This might sound embarrassing, but minimizing waste is more important--that should teach you not to leave your bag in the car again!
6. Have Different Bags For Different Items
Dedicate a reusable bag for meat, poultry, and fish, one for fresh vegetables and fruits, one for ready-to-eat foods like canned goods, and another for dry items like shampoo and cleaning solutions.
A tip to keep meat, poultry, and fish from dripping all over the bag is to reusable plastic containers inside the bag. This way, any water and juices from your frozen food purchases stay inside the containers, keeping your bag. This will also help prevent cross-contamination.
Tip: Use bags with different colours or designs to tell them apart—green for vegetables and fruits, and red/orange for meat.
7. Get Fun Looking Bags
One of the reasons why many of us forget about our reusable bags is because they’re often too easy to forget. Some people also don’t like using them because they look too boring. They’re usually just green with a recycle sign printed on one side.
If you think your reusable bags look tacky, simply customise them or order them with custom prints for a relatively low price.
8. Keep Them in Sight
The saying “out of sight, out of mind” applies to reusable bags. If you don’t see them, you’ll most likely not use them. Keep them in a place where you can easily see and take them.
The glove compartment of your car is a good place to start, but only if you’re constantly keeping items inside there. Otherwise, you may want to keep your reusable bag in a more visible location.
9. Keep Them Clean
Don’t forget to give them a good wash form time to time. Reusable bags are great, but they can get dirty over time, which means bacteria can start living in them after a couple of trips to the grocery.
Simply wash your bags with a mild detergent once every two weeks or so. This may seem obvious, but you’ll be surprised how many people often forget that their reusable bags are perfectly washable.
10. Improvise
If you’re only buying a few things and have an actual bag with you (handbag, backpack, the like), refuse a plastic bag and just place your items in your bag. You cut back on plastic and it’s less of a hassle since you won’t be carrying around anything else. A scarf can also turn into an impromptu bag. Be creative, use what you have.
The transition to reusable bags may be tricky at first, but after a while, you’ll get so used to them you’ll be carrying around a reusable bag with you without having to think about it. Remember, a plastic bag can take 1000 years to decompose. The less plastic bags we use, the less waste generated.
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