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Mama Deb
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December 2010
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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.


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.)