10 Reasons Why Reusable Bags are Better to Use than Plastic for Consumers:
1. They are sturdier.
Plastic bags are floppy, flimsy pieces of plastic that are loosely glued together. You shove something with a sharp corner into one and they tear, spilling contents onto the ground. It is often this reason that some baggers double-bag items at the store, doubly wasting and polluting. Reusable bags on the other hand are better to use because they are sturdy! They are often made from woven materials (some times recycled itself) or from very firm plastic. They do not tear (as) easily. There is no double bagging required.
2. They have flat bottoms.
Plastic bags’ bottoms are pretty much not conducive to holding anything properly, because as soon as you pick it up, everything moves and sinks to the lowest possible point, and that point is not wide or flat. Everything jumbles together. Reusable bags are better to use because they have a flat bottom, often with a hard plastic insert to make it extra sturdy for carrying anything. This means whatever you stack in there will stay stacked! It also means you can shove more in a bag, because…
3. They are bigger.
Most plastic shopping bags are small. I don’t know why they come in that “standard” size, but it just isn’t big enough for a lot of normal items, like cereal boxes. Reusable bags, even smaller ones, are still bigger than plastic ones, mostly because the sides come up higher! They are perfect for holding those cereal boxes and other every day shopping items. Plus, bigger bags mean more can fit inside. A lot more! This means you will have less bags to bring in from the car, fewer trips! Who doesn’t love that?
One of the worst things about plastic bags is their short plastic “handles.” If you have anything in that bag that weighs three lbs or more and carry it in your hand, those tiny plastic handles will dig into your fingers, causing excruciating pain, redness, and the ever so awesome red stripe indents on your fingers and hands and forearms. Reusable bags have straps, thick, wide, sturdy straps. They do not dig into your flesh. They are therefore better to use for consumers for sure.
With straps instead of flesh-digging handles, reusable bags can actually be carried on your shoulders! This means that it is way easier to bring all the groceries in my yourself. Put a few up on your shoulders, a couple in your hands, and one trip later all of your goods are now in the house with limited to no pain. Because, in case you didn’t know, it is way more comfortable and easier physically to carry heavy bags on your shoulders instead of your hands.
6. They fold flat.
How many of you have an ever growing plastic bag of more plastic bags? We all do. The great thing about having reusable bags is that they all fold flat, no special instructions necessary. After we unload our goods from the grocery store, we fold them up, and then put them inside one our largest reusable bags. They are then easy to grab out, use, and store, taking up very little space. See how that bag of plastic bags protrude forward?:
If someone finds that overflowing plastic bag of more plastic bags in your house, it is generally not a pretty sight. But, a reusable bag full of other reusable bags? A colorful delight! I have so many reusable bags now, all of which I’ve accumulate for free. And they are fun! And colorful! And cute! Some make a statement. Some show my personality. Plastic bags are generic, store-branded pieces of thin, cheap plastic that are anything but adorable or fashionable. Whatever company or product you love, they probably have an adorable reusable bag for you to carry around.
8. They are multipurpose and multi-use.
And it’s extra points to you to have a cute bag because these bags are reusable. They are multipurpose. I’ve used them to take toys and towels to the beach (try that with a plastic bag). I’ve used them to pack and move apartments. My husband has used them to bring home quizzes and homework he needs to grade (he uses waterproof ones too). While I know many people love using plastic bags as trash liners and doggy bags, they aren’t great at holding important things, (mostly) just refuse.
9. They can be insulated.
If you love getting bottled drinks at the store, like bottled water, soda, or wine, then a reusable bag can be an awesome companion on your trips to the supermarket, especially if you need to keep your groceries cold (i.e. you take public transportation). You can get large reusable insulated grocery bags which can double as a lunch tote! Some bags also come with dividers!
10. They can save you money at certain stores.
Did you know in some cities, states and stores they are now charging you to use plastic bags? And most wholesale stores don’t offer them at all either. However, in some states and stores you can actually save money by using reusable bags! This is awesome, since any cost you accrue purchasing bags can then quickly be made up. At Target you save 5 cents, $.05, PER reusable bag you use! It’s like a coupon you don’t have to clip! I’ve done it multiple times and love that extra discount.
While the environmental impact of reusable bags is debatable, the ease of use of reusable bags to plastic bags for consumer is not very debatable in my opinion. Reusable bags are better to use than plastic for consumers.
The hardest part about using reusable bags is remembering to use them!
My suggestion is to pack them up and put them back in your car as soon as you are done unloading. Because, if you are a busy person, wrangling kids, trying to get out the door and remember everything, chances are you will forget those bags! If we don’t run them back out, we try to hang them up on our coat rack/purse holder right by the door to take them out later.
But, even when they are in the back of the car, you have to remember to grab them before you go in the store. And then you have to remember to give them to the cashier/bagger before you start ringing up items. And you don’t always. But, the more you become a believer in the fact that reusable bags are better to use, it will become easier for you to make them a priority on your shopping trips. Seriously. Every time I use my reusable bags, I am reminded of how awesome they are to use form a consumer standpoint, and it brings a smile to my face.
Remember to clean them.
The only thing to be worried about while using reusable bags for your grocery trips, is bacteria and germs growing on them, especially sitting in the back of your car. That’s why I’m generally okay with baggers putting my meat purchases in the store’s plastic bags and then in my reusable bags. However, you should clean and disinfect them from time to time. I’ve put all of my bags through the washing machine before, washing plastic inserts and bags with a disinfecting wipe. I have yet to get sick from them, and we’ve been steady reusable bag users for over a year.