Tips for Remembering your Reusable Shopping Bags

Got your reusable shopping bags already? Do you always remember to take them to the shops?

This is can be frustratingly difficult when we have all grown use to being handed free bags each time we shop! I know it's something I've struggled with.

Here's a guest article by which offers some great tips for remembering your reusable shopping bags before visiting the store.


Some tips for remembering shopping bags

We are beginning to wake up to just how damaging plastic bags are to our environment. Estimates put the world's use of plastic bags, anywhere from 500 billion to a trillion bags per year, globally, yet less than one percent of them are recycled. The recycling of these plastic bags is not a priority, because it costs manufacturers far more to recycle them than it does to make new ones from raw materials.

So where do all those bags go? We see them blown against fences and strewn across vacant lots. But the majority, end up polluting our oceans and endangering wildlife.

In fact, in 2005, the World Wildlife Fund reported that over 200 species of wildlife, including whales, seals and turtles, were killed by plastic bags. Many animals in the wild eat the bags, thinking they are food of some sort, and end up dying as a result. Dead whales have been found to have a stomach full of plastic, birds have become entangled, and sea turtles have suffocated.

We know that billions of bags end up in our oceans, each year. Those bags eventually break down into smaller particles that go on to pollute the ocean and be ingested by many marine life species. As a result, humans, who eat a variety of marine life, ultimately ingest those toxins, as well.

So most of us know we should use reusable shopping bags instead of the one use disposable plastic grocery bags. We know this and yet, despite our best efforts, many of us forget them from time to time. We end up feeling guilty on the ride home, with plastic bags of groceries bouncing along, and we know we need to be more diligent about remembering to take the reusable bags with us. So just how do we accomplish that?

There are many ways, but here are a few to get you started.

Pay the fee

More and more cities across globe are banning plastics bag. If plastic bags are outlawed where you live, you may be forced to pay a five-cent bag tax for the paper ones. Pay the fee and take it as a lesson that you don’t want to repeat.

Tough it out

When you check out, just put everything back in the cart after paying and wheel it all out to be placed in your car, bag-free.

Think small

There are many small bags that, when unfolded, become regular size reusable shopping bags. Get one for your purse or keychain so you always have at least one reusable bag on hand.

Reminder notes

These days, many grocery stores offer free bag-reminder stickers you can place in your car, as well as window signs that you will likely see on your way in. You can also use a note or door hanger at your home to remind you to take your bags along as you leave the house.

Arms length

When you get in the car, keep the reusable bags within arm’s reach, near your purse or on the passenger seat, so you see them when you prepare to get out of the car. If you do forget them until you are in the store, you can still go back outside to get them. Just ask a store employee to keep an eye on your items while you run back out.

If your challenge is forgetting to put them in the car in the first place, always keep extra in your trunk – which is particularly handy if you unexpectedly drop into the store to pick up some items.

Calendar it

If you have a particular day of the week that you go habitually go shopping, put the reusable bag reminder right on your calendar. You can also set your phone or PDA to give you a reminder ahead of time.

Note pads

If you are like the millions of people who write up a grocery list each week, consider having a custom grocery pad list made that includes a reusable bag reminder right on it. Or write it ahead on the next few pages of your grocery list pad.

Try one or two of these tips for a few days. You will find that, remembering your reusable shopping bags for your grocery and other shopping trips soon becomes a habit so natural to your lifestyle that you don't even have to think about it.


After seeing so many plastic bags on the beach and in the water while surfing, Doug Lober started as a way to give back to the Earth and to make a wider environmental impact. RTB's eco-friendly reusable shopping bags can be customized with a logo and are great for green fundraisers.

Read on below for ideas on where to find decent reusable bags.

Other sources of reusable shopping bags

If you are in the USA you will perhaps want to click through to see the bags at

You can also find excellent bags such as these from Amazon. They come with bottle sleeves and are made from durable organic cotton.

For readers elsewhere in the world, you might want to find a reusable shopping bag supplier a little closer to home.

Most supermarkets stock eco-friendly shopping bags now, so it is not so difficult to equip your house with a good selection for everyday use. These will vary in how sustainable they are and how well-made they are. It is also not so easy to check on what kind of working practices are in use.

In the UK, the Co-op sells very sturdy cotton bags which hold a good amount of produce. They have been promoted in the stores since 2008 and use Fair Trade cotton.

If you want something more stylish you could take a look at Etsy.

Lots of companies are now springing up to provide eco-friendly bags. In the UK you can buy eco-friendly Fair Trade bags made from jute and other natural fibers from The Fair Trade Store.

If you fancy having a go at making bags for yourself or others, Morsbags helps people find or start groups which make bags and then distribute them for free in shopping centres. They style themselves "sociable, guerrilla, bagging"!

For small bags which you can keep in a handbag or in your pocket, Onyas are hard to beat. These are made in Australia from recycled parachute material. They are lightweight, colourful and very hard wearing. 

You can get Onya bags here from Amazon US

I've had an Onya for several years now and it travels almost everywhere with me. They are on sale in lots of retail outlets, including market stalls.

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The end of reusable shopping bags?

There have been some attempts to create bio-degradable plastic bags. The average standard plastic bag can take literally hundreds of years to break down. Biodegradable plastic bags are supposed to decompose in around 18 months or so. However there are some reservations about how useful these "bio-plastics" really are.

One problem is that they may not break down effectively if they are not in the right environmental conditions. A further concern is that they break down into tiny particles which then resist further breakdown. Worse still, some types ("oxo" plastics) may release harmful heavy metals such as cobalt into the environment.

So, it's not yet clear that the need for proper re-usable shopping bags is over. In any case, an attractive jute or cotton bag is far more user-friendly and appealing than any use-it-once-and -throw-it-away piece of plastic, even if you do manage to use it several times.

Remember the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and kick the plastic habit!


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Fairtrade Products and Fairtrade Fortnight - Join the Big Swap!

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