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Mama Deb
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Mama Deb [userpic]

My lifestyle is about as green as any New Yorker. I have my AC running all the time, and there are lights on all Shabbat, but I also walk or take mass transit whenever possible, and it's mostly possible. I only drive a car if I have no other choice.

So there's definitely room for improvement, and I decided to make one. For the past several years, I've been buying those reusable grocery bags, the $1 ones they sell in the supermarkets, but I've been using them as knitting bags. They make great knitting bags.

But there's going to be a bag tax and even though Glatt Mart has the BEST plastic shopping bags around - usable as tote bags themselves - it's still a waste to get new ones all the time. So I now have three cloth bags that are not destined to hold knitting.

Why three bags? Because they hold about the same amount as five or six plastic ones, which is generally speaking the largest non-Yom Tov shopping I do. One of them is small enough I can fold it up into my purse, too, so when I leave the house, I can just put it there in case I need it. I can also just stuff two of them into the third and carry them that way. I still have to think about taking them.

Those of you who do this and who use a car - what do you do? Remember to grab them when you leave the house, as I do? Leave some in the car at all times? Do you take them only when you know you'll be shopping or do you have them in case you stop in the grocery store on the way home from work?

There are several things I've realized. One is that these are MUCH EASIER and more comfortable than plastic bags. Two of them have straps long enough to fit over my shoulder. This makes carrying them very easy. The third has too small a strap, but it's still more comfortable in my hand than plastic.

Another is how visible they are. Everyone else carries orange plastic. I'm carrying white, black and green non-woven cloth. I'm already a little different, with my convention t-shirts, fanny pack and very non-stylish purse, and now I look really odd. More people will think I'm a vegetarian.

(People do think I'm a vegetarian. I have absolutely no idea why.)

They also make me a bit more organized - i have to put even non-perishables away properly or I'll lose the use of the bags. And I can't stuff a bag of veggies into the fridge, either. And, of course, I have to remember to take one or all. I am thinking of emptying out one of my red ones, though, and asking that that be used for any meat.

See, I may bring my own bags, but I do NOT do my own bagging.


I have four Envirosax bags - mine are in solid colors, but they come in lots of designs as well, and in sets of five with a carrying pouch for some sort of volume discount - which roll up small, about the size of a glasses case. Two of them live in my bag and two in my glove compartment.

People think I'm a vegetarian too, sometimes. I've never understood it, particularly the time I was stopped in the street and after telling the guy with the clipboard that I was not a vegetarian and going on my way, he called after me that I looked like a vegetarian. Granted I wear my hair long and straight and wasn't wearing any makeup (of which one and a half of these are true of you on any given day, I expect -- which is to say, your hair may well be long and straight, but how would a stranger know this, am I right?), but I was also wearing a leather jacket at the time, I mean, hello. :-)

Yep. No make-up (and most women don't leave the house here without spackle.) My hair is long and *curly*, actually, but yeah, no one would know.

I'd love a leather jacket. :)

I leave them in my car all of the time. I have several from different stores and one I use specifically for book trips. When I put groceries away I put them back in the trunk of the car.

My challenge is to remember to grab them as I walk in the store. It sounds like a simple thing, but it seems to confound me nearly every time I walk into a store. I never remember until I'm at the check out and have to send my daughter to fetch them.

They are good for toting all sorts of things. They are a good buy.

They really are. I'm thinking of getting a bunch to use as Purim gift bags next year.

I have a bag that folds up tiny in my usual day bag, but generally speaking, I leave my shopping bags in the car. (There's no walking distance shopping in LV.)

I suggest you leave 2-3 bags in the car for car shopping and have another set for your walking shopping. That way, you've got all bases covered.

And as for keeping the AC running -- if you keep it around 78f you'll find it quite livable.

I don't have a car. When I need one short term, I rent it. If I need it long term, my mom often lets me borrow hers. In NYC, if you don't NEED a car, it doesn't pay to own one.

That's where we do keep it. Remember, though, we're also trying to wring out the humidity. New York turns into a steambath in the summer. (We also keep the apartment fairly cold in the winter - never above 65F.)

I've been thinking about leaving them in the car because I've forgotten mine a time or two. I have two plasticy ones, a large one I got free from Earthbound Farms, and a Kroger one, and I'm also using an old canvas tote bag that happened to have Reuse reduce recycle printed on it. And an old beach bag.

I usually have meat plastic-bagged at the store anyway because I'm afraid of blood drip and I'm not sure if any of them but the tote can be washed.

I very rarely (can count on the fingers of one hand)see anyone else using reusable bags, even though every store is selling them now.

Glatt Mart has smaller, thinner plastic bags they use for meat and sushi containers. I still ask them to use those - I don't want meat drippings in my bags, either.

Minneapolis has a policy that, as an unintended consequence, means most people who are seriously recycling get paper bags. The only allowed methods of containing recyclables here are twine or paper bags.

We've got a few cloth bags. We attempted to keep them in the car. After finding out the above, we've given up on using them. We should keep them in the car and use them for shopping at CostCo or non-grocery shopping - maybe we'll have another go at trying that.

Huh. In NY, we have three garbage cans - one for general garbage, one for glass and plastics, one for paper. So long as items are in those containers OR IN PLASTIC BAGS, they're all right. Boxes can be recycled outside the containers, but they need to be flat and taped together. Nothing requires paper bags or twine.

We have a counter right next to the kitchen door and when the groceries get unpacked, the bags go immediately onto that counter. Then, when it's shopping time again, I put the bags in my ever-present backpack (because yes, if I put them in the back of the car, I'd forget to take them out when I got to the grocery store *G*)

I can see that very well. I'm keeping my bags on a folding table we use in the kitchen for that purpose.

I got my bags from my congregation (ultimately, I think, from the Federation). I keep them in the car all the time. When I bring groceries in, I put the empty bags by the door to grab the next time I go out to the car.

I do not use the bags all the time. I have a specific use for the plastic bags, so if my supply is getting low I'll leave the cloth bags in the car and fill up. If we had a bag tax I guess I'd buy boxes of small bags (like for the bathroom) instead, but we don't so I don't have to. I'd rather reuse a grocery bag than buy an entirely-new bag for litterbox scoopings.

(I also put fresh meat in plastic bags to contain drips, as someone else said.)

Yeah, getting a new bag for litter box litter does sound wasteful.

My congregation is about the most environmentally aware on in our neighborhood, but I think I'm still the only one using reusable bags.

I figure I'm an example. Or something. :)

I have canvas shopping bags and I keep 'em in my car. Grocery-shopping is a bit of a Thing for me because I'm mildly agoraphobic, so forgetting them isn't an issue: when I park in the supermarket's lot, I am very keenly aware of why I'm there, seeing as I probably spent at least 15 minutes reminding myself that it's called food and I need it to live, and thus should stop trying to put off the supermarket trip. >.>

In which case, every trip to the grocery store is a triumph. Keep doing that.

My first time at BEA, I went hogwild and brought home 10 or 12 reusable tote bags, which languished in the closet, unloved, with N mocking me for me compulsive goods-grabbing, until we realized we could use them for groceries. Now, we leave most of them in the car, and take them in to the supermarket with us.

Our supermarket actually give 5 cents back for every reusable bag you use, so it's win/win for us.

That is very, very cool. You have the best reusable, then - free and interesting.

We use paper grocery bags for recycling and plastic grocery bags for diapers. We do try to remember to bring tote bags, though, because we don't use up the plastic bags very quickly. (The paper bags, on the other hand...)

The local Stop&Shop has a huge bin where they collect plastic bags to be recycled (not reused), too.

The Foodtown near my inlaw's country house has the same sort of thing. My mother-in-law uses it assiduously, except for the ones she uses as garbage bags.

Paper bags, unless inserted into something with handles, are less good for us. They used to use them for delivery, but the stores have switched to boxes (boxes the right size for storing books,btw) and until we get our doorbell fixed we can't get delivery anyway.

Oooh, very timely post for me. I/we have a problem of never remembering/having the fabric totes for groceries when I actually go to the store, so I'm getting some good ideas from this, as well as some inspiration. We do reuse plastic and paper bags in many ways, so we never just throw them out, but still, it's silly not to use the fabric ones most of the time.

Cool. I love it when my posts generate good discussions and are generally useful.


Most of the bags I have are in the style of Earthwise. I got some directly from that site, and then my local grocery store started offering the same type of bag.

I also have some Home Depot bags (great big floppy bright orange things that roll up into the plastic handle) and a Costco bag (really tall, mesh, not as useful as one might think), and a huge jute bag from the thrift store.

I keep them in a box by the door, and I usually remember to grab some before going to the store. I used to try to keep a couple in the car, but the Arizona heat tends to make the plastic bits brittle after a while.

And since I'm in Arizona, my exchange with the cashiers goes something like this:
Me: I brought my own bags.
Cashier: Are you from California?

Which, I guess, is a way of asking if I'm a vegetarian. This has happened IN STORES THAT SELL REUSABLE BAGS. Grocery stores, Target, Walmart, Walgreens, Circle K... The guy at the comic shop looked like he was going to swallow his tongue when I whipped out a bag.

I use my bags for all manner of shopping, a couple are storage for bits of whatever (fabric scraps, construction paper, cords for the electronics), carrying stuff to events (if I need water, sunscreen, a book, a blanket, etc), and I used them when I moved (you know... all of those annoying things you find after you SWEAR you're done packing).

Also, I bag my own groceries. The packers just don't know how to make the best use of the bags (squarish things on the bottom, squishy things on top, don't you DARE use that bag for just two jars and a bag of chips!). I know I don't get as much of a discount (five cents per bag) by packing my items logically, but I'd rather not end up with the last few things in five freaking disposable bags.

Yep. That's my green one. It's a nice size and it's sturdy. I can't fit the handles over my shoulder, but they are comfortable in my hand.

No one bags their own in the stores I go to - the baggers are much faster. (We also don't bus our own tables in the pizza and fast food places. Yeah, we're an entitled bunch. In my own defense - I always thank the bagger and I do bus my table when the places are busy - assuming they let me. I get the tray taken out of my hands more often than not.)

I have those bags. I keep them in the car, and remember to take them into the store about 90% of the time.

I also picked up a bunch of reusable bags - they were on sale for 3/$1 - but since it's a toss up whether my husband or I will be going to the store, I can't leave them in my car - I leave them in dinette (our back door where we park is in the dinette area) and hope that whoever is running to the store grabs them on the way out.
We get a 5 cent discount per bag when we use the canvas type bags but oddly enough, get a 2 cent discount if we reuse the plastic store bags.
A bag tax? Really? (it's not that I don't believe you - just don't believe they would go that far) In NY in general or just in Brooklyn?