How to Remember to Take Bags With You to the Store

By now, you have probably heard what a waste of resources most plastic bags are. You may even have some reusable bags of your own. Yet, are they going with you into the store, or are you and the store clerks where you shop still on automatic pilot, bagging in plastic? Time to rethink ways to remember to take the reusable bags with you!


  1. 1
    Get informed and remind yourself why you want to do your part. People consume billions of plastic bags each year. This excess layer of packaging costs energy and money to produce, and bags are bound to end up in a landfill, if not litter, sooner or later. [1] A simple place to start is to have a good look at how many you have around. Perhaps you reuse them for certain things; perhaps you recycle them or throw them away. Wouldn't it be better to skip the process entirely?
  2. 2
    Have an ample supply of reusable bags. You may already own at least a handful of reusable canvas or heavier plastic bags. If not, try sewing or knitting or crocheting some. Regardless of where you get your bags, choose a size that is comfortable and a design that is sturdy and pleasing. Have at least enough for a full load of groceries.
    • Your reusable bag (or bag substitute) can be whatever is most convenient for you. It could be your backpack or panniers if you ride a bike. Choose what works and pleases you.
    • A reusable bag can also be insulated, such as a quilted or padded bag or an insulated, soft-sided cooler for your frozen goods.
    • A large basket is an excellent choice for some items, especially if you like to shop at a farmer's market. There are European made canvas collapsible shopping baskets that can be purchased from stores that sell bags or carrying items.
    • Making your own bags is a great excuse to salvage beautiful prints from clothing and other fabric items that are worn out or no longer fit but that you'd like to keep as a memento. The fabric still gets to be seen and you've got a useful item again!
  3. 3
    Put your bags where you will use them. This is key to helping you remember to use them. Put them in places such as: in the car, on the doorknob for the next time you go out, in your purse, briefcase, or backpack you usually take to go out.
    • Put a bag, or a reminder of one, where you will see it when you leave for the store and when you enter the store.
  4. 4
    As you enter a store, when you take a cart or basket, make sure you have a bag to put in it. If you haven't, make the effort to go back and get it.
    • When grocery shopping, one way of dealing with forgetting your bag is to ask for your groceries to go back into the cart; then you can either pack them into bags or boxes left in your car, or you can stack them in the trunk. You'll soon learn to remember the bags!
  5. 5
    Write at the top of your shopping list "take bags". If you use the same notepad every time, write it on the new page as soon as you empty the last batch of bags.
    • Attach bags to your purse, your shopping list, or anything else you already take with you into stores. Some bags come with little hooks that make it easy to attach them to something else, or perhaps you could sew a hook or Velcro onto a reusable bag for such a purpose.
  6. 6
    Make it automatic. Make taking in bags a regular part of your shopping routine. Habits take a few weeks to ingrain but persevere and soon it will become second nature to take a bag whenever you leave to shop.
  7. 7
    Folded to pocket size.
    Use collapsible bags or reuse plastic ones.
    Have a couple of bags that are a thin enough material to fold or roll and store them in your purse or wallet as a backup for when you forget the usual reusable bags. Check out how to fold plastic bags to make them very compact and pocket sized.
  8. 8
    Tell the kids that it's important to take their own bags. If you have kids and you take them shopping, explain why you want to take back bags, and put them in charge of helping you remember to take them in and of helping you to remember them.
    • Many stores refund a few cents per bag. Offer to pay this amount to your kids if they remind you to take in the bags before you remember. They won't need to be asked twice!
  9. 9
    Put the bags back where they'll go with you. As soon as you empty them, put them back in the car, on the doorknob, or wherever they normally should be placed, so that they're already with you next time.
  10. 10
    Make a point of asking for "no bag, thanks". If you already have a cart going back to your car or if you only have a few things, simply ask that your items not be bagged. You can also ask for no bags if items already have ample packaging. Milk and boxed cereal are excellent things to leave unbagged. You'll have to be quick, though – many clerks bag things automatically.
    • Put the bags in front of or on top of your order or groceries on the conveyor belt, so that baggers and checkers notice them before they have the stuff to put in them.


  • Show your own style. Instead of carrying around the store's logo, carry around your own favorite color or design.
  • Reusable bags are great for groceries, but don't forget to take them to other stores, too. Remember them for clothing, hardware, drugstores, and anywhere else you shop.
  • Have fun, make or pick out a special basket by the door to always keep them. It will get you excited and look good in your home.

Things You'll Need

  • Reusable bags for all occasions from shopping to visiting the beach

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