Simple Systems: Organizing Reusable Grocery Bags

posted in: productivity 1

I like to use reusable bags, but it can be challenging to remember them. Here’s how I make it easier to get them into the car and with us in the store.

Basically, the premise of the 31 Days challenge is to make a list of 31 things and then write a short post on each one for a month. I love lists, so I can’t resist. So this month, my topic is Simple Systems: 31 Small Ways to Simplify Life.

I think as stay-at-home moms we often don’t even realize just how many draws there are on our energy, even our mental energy. Decision-making is exhausting and implementing a system means there’s less stress in that area once it’s in place. Multiple small systems can add up to a significant reduction of that burdensome drain we can feel by mid-afternoon when it feels like there’s nothing left and we don’t care any more. Or is that just me?

Simple Home System: Organizing & Remembering Reusable Grocery Bags

I like to use reusable bags, but it can be challenging to remember them.

Use one reusable bag to store the others & keep a large carabiner clip with it.

I like my reusable grocery bags. I also dislike plastic bags because they are so flimsy and noisy. So I do make a concerted effort to remember them when I go grocery shopping. The best way to remember them is to store them in your car, but that doesn’t work well for me because I use my bags to carry all sorts of stuff. Anytime I have to take stuff anywhere (which is all the time!) I reach for one of my IKEA or Hobby Lobby plasticky shopping totes. So I keep them hanging near my launch pad area, in what is known as the “bag of bags.” A child or I grabs it on the way out, and then when we get to the store, I hook it onto my cart with a large carabiner.

Of course these bags are primarily marketed toward the “green living” people, but here are the reasons I like to use them:

  • They hold more weight per bag.
  • They don’t tear and break.
  • They are more stable and stuff doesn’t fall out.
  • They utilize more vertical space, so I can fit more groceries in my small trunk than I can with plastic.
  • They are prettier and more pleasant to use.
Pieces of this system

The trick to reusable bags is all in the remembering. And there is no real shortcut to that. Here are the keys:

  • Keep them all together in one bag (perhaps even your favorite bag you love to use and see) in a quick-and-easy-to-grab spot, preferably your launchpad.
  • Work at it for awhile to make it a habit.
  • Tune yourself into your reasons as you grab them, while you’re using them, and as you’re putting them away. Anytime you see them, remind yourself of why you like them (if you do). You’ll get your unconscious and your emotions working in your favor if you focus them on it.
  • Delegate the job of taking them to and from the car to one of the children in your “before we leave the house” list.
  • Have a place for them not only in your house, but in the car, and also a place for them as you shop. I clip mine with a big carabiner to the cart or stroller handle.
    And, if you don’t like them and don’t care, then don’t bother. It’s not a big deal.
    Honestly, the main reason I do is that I like carrying more things per bag and I really, really love pretty bags.
Using pretty, sturdy bags communicates to myself that this role is my thing, and I’m loving it.

Do you use reusable bags?

Simple Systems

Index: “Simple Home Systems
First: “What Is a System?” & “What Is Simple?
Previous: “Our Before We Leave the House List
Next: Library Routine

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  1. Jennifer
    | Reply

    I know this is an old post, but when I saw the title, I had to comment. The problems of remembering to bring the reusable bags, storing them, and washing them when needed led to me using them less than I wished. Then I got bagpodz. It’s a bag of bags with a carabiner like you have, but so compact and convenient and easy to wash. I use them every time I go to the store without fail now.

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