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Monday, April 30, 2018

Saving money when shopping

You know what this is? This is 20 cents. Many municipal areas now enforce a ban on free bags given with a purchase. In Seattle, merchants must charge a minimum of 10 cents per bag. If it's just a small item that I'm buying I can put it in my purse, and skip the bag. If I am grocery shopping I bring a bunch of bags with me. But if I am out on foot, like in the city, or hopping from store to store in a large shopping complex, I am unlikely to be carrying a stack of bags with me. And if I am buying more than I can easily manage in my hands, or that will fit in my purse, I need a compact way to carry a couple of plastic bags. 

The above photo is of 2 plastic grocery bags, folded very flat with air pressed out, and kept in a ziploc baggie. All together, this bundle is the size of a deck of playing cards, and tucks nicely into the side pocket of my small purse. I just keep them in my purse, so I don't have to even remember to bring a bag when I'm running errands.

Even when I'm not in the city, many suburban retailers offer a credit of 5 or 6 cents per bag that you bring in yourself. I was in Target the other day picking up a couple of necessities, and I saved myself 5 cents for using one of my own bags. The inspiration for this compact bag storage was those net shopping bags, which come in their own pouch and sell for $7 or $8. Using what I already have, I made my own version. True, not the pretty colors of the net ones. But these are free, and that's a good thing.


  1. Here in West Michigan most store supply plastic bags for groceries but the quality of those bags have decreased. I've had many a bag rip and the contents fall to the ground. Aldi and Save A Lot are the only two I know of that charge for bags. I rarely use bags (except at Meijer) but will often just bring my own bags and even better yet I have four boxes in the back of my van where I just bring out the groceries in my cart and load them into the boxes. When I get home I just carry the boxes into the house for putting away. Then I put the bags back in the van for next time. I also have a bunch of reusable bags in my van for anytime I need to shop. All the cheap bags we get at Meijer are used for garbage liners.

    I will use your idea of tucking a folded plastic bag in my purse for the time when I need a bag and have left them all in the van.


    1. Hi Alice,
      I keep boxes in my car's trunk. One of my regular stores, Cash & Carry, does not have bags, but will give a box if needed. So, I've got "leftover" boxes, which are just as easy as bags for getting into the house. (Not as easy to carry around if on foot, though.)

      I was reading about a woman who often enough forgets her reusable shopping bags and her store charges 10 cents per bag. So, when she grocery shops she has the cashier put all of her groceries back into the cart, after ringing up, then loads everything into her car just as is. When she gets it all home, she then gets out reusable bags and bags it all to carry into the house. It sounds like a workable solution for when forgetting bags and there is a surcharge.

    2. Great idea, Lili!

      I use all of Alice's techniques except for boxes--don't have room for those. Plastic bags are great for cat litter. Our recycling requires us to put paper in paper sacks so I occasionally purchase bags from Aldi (Meijer's bags are too short! We recycle a lot of paper!).

    3. Hi Kris,
      having to buy paper bags so that you can recycle other paper sounds so crazy! But I understand why the recyclers would want that. Otherwise sorting would be more problematic. There must be a better way, though. Like dedicated containers for paper. When we first moved to our house, we did have separate containers for different types of recyclables. Now they've moved to one large bin of jumbled stuff.

    4. I always use the produce bags for kitty litter because most of the plastic grocery bags have little holes in the bottom which makes for a messy situation with kitty litter! :)

    5. We use cereal bags that come in boxes of cereal for kitty litter as well as tortilla ziploc bags. They are pretty "tight" with no leakage. We also use produce bags for litter. We save the the bag from the new litter so next time we need to change it out we can just dump it into the bag we saved last time.

      Our recycling center is mostly co-mingled now except for cardboard and maybe paper. We don't get a newspaper or have too much paper to recycle so I rarely use that part of it. We have two boxes in the garage cupboard and throw cans, plastic and glass in there and usually make a trip once a week on the way to Horrocks where we look for 50 cent gallons of milk on Saturday morning.


  2. I carry two very compact nylon bags in my purse all of the time. I found them at the Goodwill Outlet, so they cost next to nothing since items are sold by the pound there. I gave them a good washing and they have been so handy. I carry a bag of reusable bags in my car for more major grocery trips. These were collected over time, some freebies from businesses, some gifted to me. You have come up with a good option there!

    1. Hi Mary,
      I love that you carry a couple of nylon bags with you in your purse. It's the same idea. Just keeping them in my purse means that I will always have 2 bags with me.
      Have a great day, Mary!

  3. This post made my crazy little Eco-heart swell with green happiness! Whether the motivation is environmental or financial, I think less plastic garbage is always a good thing. I have a bunch of canvas bags that I keep in the car - they're the best reusable ones I've found - Sturdy and washable. But reusing the disposable ones is a great idea too - I mean if everyone used them twice that would mean half as many bags!

    There are only a few stores here that charge for bags - one is actually a "green warrior" sort of place that doesn't have them even if you pay for them. But all of them give away free cardboard boxes (the ones that the stuff arrives at the store in). I think that's a great way to reuse a disposable thing too.

    1. Hi Cat,
      We get a lot of mileage out of the disposable plastic bags. We recycle them back into service over and over, to wrap loaves of homemade bread, cover leftovers, bag up lettuce from the garden, etc. We don't throw them out until they're completely tattered to shreds.
      Our Cash & Carry doesn't offer bags at all, but will put things into boxes that they would otherwise send to recyclers, like the store you mentioned. I love that they do that.

  4. Hah! I was so surprised by this in Seattle. To my credit, I do recycle all plastic bags. And of course at Costco, they don't give you bags at all--only boxes & that's only if you request them. Melissa


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