Ever since our first home exchange to Paris in 2004, I’ve been making a real effort to not use plastic grocery bags. While on our trip, with my starving family (they weren’t really starving but that’s how they were acting!) waiting in the car, I ran into a grocery store in Germany to buy a few items. After paying for my groceries, I looked around for a bag or something to place my groceries items in and realized I was supposed to have brought my own bag. Using my shirt as a carrying compartment, I walked back to the car thinking that when I got home, I needed to be better about bringing my own bag to the store with me.
I’ve been using reusable bags for years (in fact, we received string bags for a wedding gift 22-years-ago and it’s one of the most used gifts we received!) and my family has never gotten sick or given much thought to the bacteria that live inside the bags. Recently, I’ve been hearing about tests being done on the inside of reusable cloth bags and how dirty and germ ridden they are. (I’m pretty sure these are the same tests that show how much nasty stuff is on the bedding and walls of hotel rooms!)
The truth is, I don’t want to know about what’s inside my grocery bags or what’s on the bed spread in the hotel. There are germs in life and plenty of them live right inside my home. They’re probably in my pillows as I type this, I’m sure! I do try and clean things regularly but I don’t want to have yet another obsession to fill my little brain. Lead paint, earthquakes, and public toilet seats already fill my “obsessing” quota so I don’t want to add reusable grocery bag germs to the mix.
There are more cities moving toward eliminating plastic grocery bags and our city has recently expanded its area of phase-out of the plastic bag. If you haven’t transitioned already to using reusable bag, here are some tips to keep in mind.
- Use: Use bags that can be washed and/or cleaned. Many of the bags offered for free or very low cost can’t be washed or they will disintegrate. Using canvas or other oil cloth type bags allows your grocery vessels to be washed or cleaned out when needed. Canvas bags are plentiful at second-hand stores and by adding a pocket to the outside, you can cover up whatever logo is on the bag.
- Declare: Declare a bag for meat only. If purchasing raw meat or chicken has you thinking better get the disposable plastic bag, designate one of your bags for meat or animal proteins only. Why not add a little ribbon to the top of the bag as a reminder of which bag gets used for your meats and fish?
- Smell: If you like to have your milk cartons or milk jugs in a bag, make sure these can be washed also. How often do those milk cartons leak just a little bit out of the bottom and next thing you know, you’ve got smelly bags. I recently bought fish that didn’t get wrapped properly and it leaked onto my bag -Well, into the washing machine that smelly thing went!
- Remember: Now that you’ve got your bags all lined up and ready to be used, remember to bring them into the store with you. Keep them in your car or tucked into your handbag so that there’s always a bag handy. As soon as I empty the bags, I put them next to the front door to immediately return them to the car. I also love these string bags that we received as a wedding gift years ago. They’re easy to tuck into my handbag when I’m out and about.
Now, you’ll never need to use a store bag again. Well, almost never. I still forget to bring mine every once in a while!
Has your city banned plastic bags? Do you use reusable bags for shopping?
Go Gingham related links:
Pantry basics for the home cook – what’s in my pantry
Refrigerator basics for the home cook – what’s in my refrigerator
Buy second-hand first – good for the wallet and the environment
Fixing our string grocery bags – fixed and back into use!
Add a pocket to your canvas bag – it’s easy!
Sew your own homemade lunch sack
Want to keep food costs low while traveling? Try these tips!