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Save A Plastic Tree

One thing that drives me crazy about grocery shopping (besides people dropping dead and the lunatic who frightened my children by calling everyone a murderer…separate incidences courtesy of our local Wal•Mart) is all the plastic bags I accumulate.

And when I shop at Wal•Mart, I’m there for the duration. My cart runneth over. I’ve been known to drag not one, but two carts full of groceries past the elderly employees stationed at the exit. As I avoid the usual stare which says, “Gee lady, how much do you eat?”

Therefore, it is not unusual for me to have as many as 40 plastic bags to add to my collection. I always bring them back for recycling. But still, it seems a waste.

When I lived in Los Angeles many years ago, the grocery stores actually encouraged patrons to bring their own recycled bags. (I brought back my paper-in-plastic bags.) And as a reward, they would refund the customer FIVE WHOLE CENTS PER BAG.

Since my weekly grocery budget was $25.00, those nickels meant a lot to me. Oh. And the whole saving the environment blah blah blah. I wanted the nickel.

When we moved here to Armpit, Florida, I was simply in the habit of bringing my own ratty paper bags. And when our local Wal•Mart was built, I arrived, singing songs of Ode to Super Wal•Mart, carrying my well used bags.

At checkout, the cashier looked at me as though I were insane. (Because of the bags, not the fact that I was rejoicing in the Grand Opening.) She shook her head in judgment as she subtly let it be known that bagging my purchases using these inferior OLD bags was not worth all the trouble.

And I resisted the urge to retaliate by telling her that A BRA WOULD HAVE BEEN A BETTER CHOICE. Because otherwise, that wouldn’t have been a very Christian thing to say.

So, I just thought it.

Alas, on subsequent visits, I caved and began accepting my groceries in plastic bags. But I didn’t like it. I saved my ratty old bags for trips to Sam’s Club.

And then I noticed recently that Wal•Mart, and a whole host of other grocery chains are actually promoting the use of CANVAS bags. And LOOK, they were even SELLING them at the registers.

Well. I have canvas bags. In fact, I have quite a collection of them. Some are from my homeschool group, a couple I received because I taught Sunday School, and one even advertises my OB/GYN on the side.

I began putting these canvas bags (all 10 of them) to good use by bringing them with me. WHEN I GO TO WAL•MART, EVEN. And the checkers, having gotten use to me after all these years, are getting much better at maneuvering the bags on their bag turnstiles.

And no, I don’t care what the bags look like. They could advertise DEPENDS for all I care. After all, I’m the gal who went to church service with a Tampon hanging completely out of her purse on Sunday.

And considered passing it off as a Bible bookmark.

Evidently, I’m no longer easily embarrassed.

So gather your unused canvas bags together, and keep them in one place. Then grab ‘em as you head out the door to do your shopping. They hold WAY more, won’t break when loaded with wine ginger ale, and are easier to carry.

And make Al Gore proud as you save a tree the planet. Whatever. Pay up Wal•Mart, fork over some nickels.

For more Works for Me Wednesday tips, head over to Rocks In My Dryer.

24 Responses to Save A Plastic Tree

  • I love my canvas bags! I just keep them in the van. 10 is a good number for our family of 5. And our weekly (WEEKLY!) grocery bill is $175. ONE-SEVENTY-FIVE! No wonder people are dying in the aisles.

  • I’m guilty. I don’t have the canvas bags yet. But did you know you can ask for paper bags at Wal-Mart? You have to SPECIFY paper, they give you a “are you serious?” look but then proceed to bag in paper. But then you aren’t saving a tree of course. All right, I’m going to buy the canvas bags next time…you’ve convinced me.

  • Yeah… I’ve started to tote my own bags when doing the shopping. I don’t like the ones that wal*mart sells because they don’t open wide enough. I have about 6 bags and keep them in my leather handled shopping basket that I use for the farmers market. I do, once in awhile, go ahead with plastic bags just so I have some for lining trash cans and the occassional times when a tote bag is too much. Loved the tampon bookmark… very in style! 🙂


  • Why is it that WalMart is the one place I dread using my reusable bags?? I have the fish net looking ones because they are washable and very compact. The Publix guys used to do paper-rock-scissors to see who had to bag using my bags, but they have now grown accustom to them. They can hold a TON!!

  • I got the same crazy look from a cashier once for bringing in my own bags. But now I bring in canvas bags all the time….or whenever I can remember 🙂

    The best reward is a pantry where I can actually see the food instead of a mountain of plastic bags.

  • I loved the part about the tampon hanging out of your purse. I have so been there.

  • My problem is that I have about 8 canvas bags but somehow leave the house without them. Now the cupboard under my kitchen sink is completely full of plastic bags that need to be taken to the grocery store to recycle. I wish I had a place to prominently store my bags by the door. Where do you keep yours?

    I have a little cubby in the family area that has canvas drawers. Each kids is assigned a drawer. But I get two. One for my purse, and one for my canvas bags. I grab them when I grab my purse. This may be my next “WFMW” post idea!

  • I am so torn with the canvas tote thing. I love shopping with them for all the mentioned reasons. My problem? I need bags for dog “business”. We walk our dog several times a day and pick up after her. So – the dilemma – PAY for doggie bags or just get the plastic grocery bags and use those??

    On a side note – we just moved to a house and used the canvas sacks to haul stuff. They worked out so incredibly I’m recommending them to everyone!

  • So far I haven’t had anyone in any store look at me sideways for using the canvas bags. I also don’t mind taking another store’s bag in (i.e., using a Target bag at Wal-Mart, etc.)

    To Suzanne, if you can get your hands on a reusable Lowe’s bag, you’ll probably find they are wider than most.

  • I use canvas bags, too, when I go to the grocery or do my shopping. We’ve gone to so many conventions and events that we have accumulated a collection of canvas bags as well. And I make sure I put them right back in my car after unloading my purchases so they are ready for my next shopping trip.

    Works for me, too!

  • Note to Cheri,

    For doggie bags, use your plastic bags that newspapers come in.

  • Some of our grocery stores do give a five cent discount for each bag you don’t use.

    I bought a wad of plastic-y canvas bags from Costco about a year ago. I also have an insulated one for frozen stuff. I keep them in the back of the van. And SOMETIMES I actually remember to bring them in with me. LOL

    When I do use them, I bring them in the house, empty them and then put them back in the van.

  • Got ya beat – 3 carts on the verge of toppling over. 🙂

    Our Wal-Mart cashier told us that if we bring in ten old plastic bags we would get a canvas one for free.
    I think I should do this. Either that or use the darn plastic bags as insulation for my house. Would that be considered green?

  • At Kroger we get a .04 discount for bringing in a bag. I have 2 Kroger ones, an insulated one and a regular one. The only problem is having the cashier remember to give the .04 discount! 🙂

  • Hi there,
    I have just discovered your blog and enjoy it much. I grew up in West L.A. and then went to U of F and now have lived in Atlanta for over 20 years. Your post about the GPS system had me hysterical and I almost gave my self away at work! About the bags. Ifeel guilty too. It really irks me though when the bagger puts one or two items in a bag and hands it over. I combine them and then give back some bags right in front of him. I use them to line my bathroom trash cans, and also for my husband’s daily lunch that I make him (He’s spoiled) and for my middle schooler’s lunch. I only have one canvas bag (Publix) and I have been using it to and from the library. I just discovered all the magazines we like are there for check out. So I am being green by canceling my subscriptions to about 4 or 5 magazines and enjoying tons of them from the library!
    –Michele in Atlanta

  • I have tried to get into the habit of bringing my own bags, even if they are the ones being sold at the check out! My problem has been using them, unloading them in the kitchen, stowing them in the pantry, and the FORGETTING them for the next trip. At this point, we have accumulated enough bags to stow a functional stash in both vehicles. And they come in handy for all kinds of things, not just toting groceries!

    Oh! And how I laughed at your tampon bookmark disclosure! Not a worry of mine any more! I Diva Cup! http://www.divacup.com/

  • Oh, yeah. I started doing the canvas bag thing a few months ago and it is fabulous. They hold so much more and are so much easier to carry. Now, if I can just remember to bring them in to the store instead of leaving them in my car half the time!!

  • You, my lady, are too funny.

    I can not believe the judgement that Wal-mart employees have heaped on you, the nerve!

    I really have to be desperate to go to Wally World. I just end up angry and want to drive over somebody with my overloaded cart before I leave.

    I prefer Target.

    I know, it is not as dirt cheap… but you do sometimes get what you pay for in some ways, cheap and chaotic aisles.
    You go for it with your recycling bags.

  • I have a confession to make. I, too, use canvas bags. But it’s not to save the planet, and yes, my store does offer a nickel per bag, but that’s not it either. I h.a.t.e the accumulation of those plastic bags in my closet. They multiply like rabbits.

  • Ok, so I got to the tampon part and that was me, LMAO. Because I just love toilet humour. And because I’m classy that way. Haha! One of my most embarrassing moments ever involved the high school tuck shop (similar to the U.S. school cafetarias), the hottest guy in school who just happened to be giving me the time of day for a few minutes that once, and who I went on to date for a few weeks later, (notwithstanding my total geekiness) and a tampon that flew out of my school uniform blazer pocket when I attempted to retrieve something out of my pocket, and landed between heart throbs feet, rolling to a gentle stop against his heel. Which accounts for my total meltdown reading your “Bible bookmark” story. Too funny.

  • I’m doing this anonymously to come out and say that my hubby works for Wal*mart (something I won’t announce on my blog for privacy reasons). He tells me that each bag that gets used costs the company 10 cents. Add to that the fact that Wal*mart is quick to pass on savings to the customer. So if enough people brought their canvas/recycled bags, that would save the company some money and they would pass on the savings to us. So you just might be getting your nickle back by not having to pay as much for your tampons. Or milk. Or whatever. 🙂

  • Discount???? There are stores that give DISCOUNTS for bringing your own bags???

    Sheesh, at times I’d pay THEM not to give me those ridiculous plastic things when I forget my reusables.

    LOVE the tampon story. Having picked up a whole package of pads that my 2yo snuck into my bathroom to stick to my floor yesterday, potty humor was right up my alley!

  • I love the canvas bags. They’re easier to carry. And is it just my Wal*mart that gives me one plastic bag per item? Goodness sakes people! I use the canvas ones at my local grocery store, but may start bringing them to Wal*mart too. I reuse & recycle the plastic ones, but always have WAY more than I need.

  • I have started using the canvas bags, too. Unfortunately, I often forget them on my way to the store, so I have started leaving some in the car. But, if I do end up bringing home some plastic bags, I have recently learned something else I can do with them.

    I can donate them to the public library to give out to people who get a lot of books. I thought that was pretty cool.