Getting in the Reusable Habit

So you bought or were given a reusable shopping bag. Good for you! But do you use it?

Many of us don’t. In fact, One survey estimates only 10 percent of those who buy the bags regularly reuse them. Ellen Gamerman writes about the dilemma in her article titled “An Inconvenient Bag” in the Sept. 26 Wall Street Journal. Turns out many of the bags are produced in China, usually with methods that use much more energy and produce more pollution than old plastic bags. So if we’re not reusing our reusable bags, we’re doing more harm than ever.

Most of us are well meaning and simply just forget to bring the bags with us. Gamerman provides a few ideas for bumping up our use, and points out that if we each only manage to reuse a bag three times a week we’ll eliminate 156 plastic bags a year.

A few tips for getting into the habit of reusing the reusable bags:

• Leave bags by the front door or in the trunk of your car and dangle a reminder from your key chain or the rearview mirror to grab them.

• Put a reminder on your grocery list and make part of the kids’ allowance hinge on whether they told you to bring the bags that week.

• When stuck in the checkout line without a reusable bag, choose paper or plastic based on the one you think you’ll reuse the most.

A couple more ways to cut out a few plastic bags:

• Don’t ask for a bag for your newspaper. Seriously, you can’t carry it to your car without handles?

• Stop the man or woman at the checkout counter when they try to use a new bag for every fourth item you bought. Or if you’re only grabbing a couple items, don’t use a bag at all if feasible.