I need to join RBA: Reusable Bags Anonymous

December 31, 2010

I have bags and I believe it is an addiction.

bags, bags, and more bags

It started innocently enough back when I was a kid with those special shopping bags with handles that you could get at the better department stores.  Some stores had a “dispenser” where you could buy their fancy handled bag for a quarter or something.  As much as I wanted to I never  did it, but I so envied those with handled bags.

Increasingly those bags were given away with substantial purchases,  and as my income increased from allowance to salary I  occasionally earned one of those coveted bags.  Should someone happen to bring items to my house in one of those bags, well suffice it to say they rarely saw their bag again.

About 18 years ago I spent some time in Europe and noticed that people had cloth bags, string bags, and baskets that they took to and from the market.  It looked so much more chic than a plastic grocery bag.  I learned how to carry a relatively heavy basket on a bent arm (rather than at the end of a straight arm – much easier) and I bought a cloth bag with a “save the earth” kind of message (in either German or French, I forget) – my first foray into the reusable cloth bag world. 

That’s not true.  I have totes.  I’ve had totes for years.  My grandmother made me two that I cherish, both from blue jeans, one has a unicorn appliqued to it – I’ve had them for nigh onto 40 years, which just goes to show how long you can reuse a good reusable bag.

For some reason it is good to know that the Europeans are still using reusable bags; if anything they are perfecting them. A friend recently brought me some. These new bags are large and sturdy, made from an oilcloth like material (only plastic-y). 

I have other bags too that people have given me because they are trying to support my greenness. These are generally nylon bags in their own little carrying pouch and they tend to live in my purse or work bag for those occasional bag emergencies.

But these bags, totes, gifts, and souvenirs, are all special bags.  They have meaning beyond their function.  They make me smile.  It’s my other bags that are starting to worry me

A few years ago, just as I was delving headlong into saving the environment (or at least being a good role model), the grocery stores began selling cloth bags to use instead of their plastic sacks.  Of course the bags also advertise their store. The environmental value of the bags outweighed the advertising issue in my mind and I bought.  At first I was concerned about the etiquette of using another store’s bag when shopping at another store, but I got over it. 

At the beginning I bought a bag here or there because I needed it.  But now I often find that when I’ve left my bags at home I sometimes buy a bag as penance.  Oh, I pretend it’s because the bag is so clever (Reuse, Recycle, ReTHINK), but it’s really a purchase born of guilt.

Is that so bad?  It wouldn’t be if it actually increased the odds of me bringing the bags with me next time, but I’m not seeing that trend.  I am at the point where  I’m afraid to know how many reusable grocery bags I’ve purchased.  It would be a large number; definitely double digits.

I am now on a mission to reuse these bags.  They must have uses other than toting items from the store.    Maybe I can find a craft project that uses reusable grocery bags. I certainly can use them to organize my home; I really need to sort through our clothes.  I suppose I could give them to Goodwill…I don’t think I’ve ever seen reusable grocery bags at Goodwill.  Will they sell them or use them for patrons’ items?  If they sell them, how much will they sell them for? It might be worth doing just to see what happens.reusable bag

Whatever I do, I need to break this habit.  Yes, my name is Wendy, and I am a bagaholic.



  1. Wow — I have a collection like that!

    • This is only part of my collection… the full collection is too embarassing 🙂

  2. Thank goodness you aren’t a librarian. ALA conferences mean many many bags. I have them every where. I try to give more to Sean and he flees from me. I guess there are worse addictions.

    • I do recycle the grocery bags to egg customers . . . which is my excuse for not taking fabric bags to the grocery store!

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