Using Reusable Bags Beyond the Grocery Store

By Angela Tague in Thinking Sustainably

By now, using reusable bags when you visit the grocery store or farmer’s market is (hopefully) old habit. But you can do more than just switch up how you carry your foodstuffs. I like to also keep a stash of bags in my car for everyday usage. That way, I can reach for them during my other shopping ventures, at the gym, and to transport snacks to gatherings at friends’ houses.

reusable bags

Did you know that in 2014, Americans created approximately 258 million tons of municipal solid waste? Of that, 12.9 percent was from plastics, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). That’s more waste than from glass (4.4 percent), metals (9 percent), and wood (6.2 percent), or rubber, leather, and textiles combined (9.5 percent). Yikes!

Here are a few ways you can stop relying on plastic bags and reduce your contribution to the landfill, beyond just your grocery trips:

Clothes and Gift Shopping

When I went holiday shopping this past season, I found myself using reusable bags often. I love how sturdy they are (no more double bagging!), and I can usually get more in them, making it easier to carry everything back home.

Packing Lunch Boxes

There are a few crafty people in my life who are great at turning scraps of fabric into reusable sandwich-size bags. These are perfect for holding sandwiches, chips, or dry snacks such as crackers and pretzels in a lunch box. Nothing is simpler to wash and reuse daily, either.

pack lunch

Going to the Gym

I like to try various classes at the gym, which means I have more than one gym bag. If you’re like me, you can try using reusable bags to keep your gym needs sorted by activity. My swimming bag contains goggles, an extra towel, and ear drops. My bag for yoga is simpler, with just a few blocks and my mat. When I break it up into separate totes, I don’t have to waste time filling a bag every time I go to the gym.

Pool Bag for Kids

reuseable bag

Do your kids love to hang out at the beach or public pool during the summer? Give each one a cute reusable bag to call his or her own and load them up with water toys, sunscreen, snacks, and towels. At the end of the day, you can toss the bags in the laundry with their swimsuits to keep them fresh and ready for the next adventure.

Sorting Laundry For Transport

Speaking of laundry, if you travel to a laundromat to wash your clothes and bedding, try using cloth bags to sort your loads before you leave home. Keep one bag available for detergent, fabric softener, dryer sheets, and any other laundry extras you need regularly.

Gift Wrapping Bags

More than once, I’ve used a reusable bag as a gift bag. In addition to the present inside, the recipient can keep the cloth bag and employ it for their next shopping trip or outing—it’s two gifts in one! If you’re able to do some basic sewing, you could even upcycle an old tourist T-shirt or seasonal sweatshirt into a cool bag.

How do you reduce plastic waste? Tweet us at @TomsofMaine about using reusable bags (and some pics of your most stylish selections).

Image sources: Flickr | Flickr | Flickr | Flickr

This article was brought to you by Tom’s of Maine. The views and opinions expressed by the author do not reflect the position of Tom’s of Maine.

Why It’s Good

Using reusable bags is a great way to reduce your consumer waste and teach your kids about being mindful of what they toss in the trash. Start a collection of colorful bags that shows off your personality—and say goodbye to disposable plastic sacks forever.