Why I Never Use My Reusable Bags

Miss BrittI want to be greener.

I do.

Wait. Is ‘greener’ the proper term? More green? Less black? More eco-friendly? Less of a suffocating drain on the planet I live in and burden on my fellow man around me? Whatever. Greener.

I want to be greener.

And in some ways that comes very naturally for me. I am frugal by nature and nurture. The idea of waste kills me — whether it’s time, money, or an open slot on my shoe rack. I cannot stomach the idea of using more of anything than I have to. So when it comes to not wasting more resources than necessary, I am — or at least I should be — a pro.

So why, then, is it so hard for me to remember to bring my reusable grocery bags to the store with me?

I love using them. I love that I can fit an entire week’s worth of groceries into six reusable bags instead of twenty plastic bags. I love that this means less trips from the car to the house for my husband. I love that it is actually easier to carry heavy loads in a well constructed reusable bag than it is in those dang plastic bags that cut into your fingers if there is more than a bag of string cheese in them. I love that I no longer have an overflowing “plastic bag” bin in my laundry room — because there really are only so many things you can do with plastic Wal-Mart bags and my creativity cannot compete with my consumption. But mostly, I love how elitist and socially conscious I feel when the sixteen year old check out clerk comments on my pretty, pretty reusable bags.

Clearly, I care about the environment.

And impressing high school grocery clerks who refuse to ID me for wine.

And still, about 75% of the time I find myself standing in line at the grocery store with no bags.

I did great when I first bought them. I was excited to have found a small change I could make in my routine that could potentially make a dramatic impact on the environment. But after the first several weeks, my best intentions gave way to old habits and an embarrassingly short attention span.

I’ve tried keeping them in my trunk. Unfortunately, the checkout clerk does not appreciate my suggestions for her to go and retrieve them from my trunk once I’ve got $300 worth of groceries on the belt and twenty people behind me in line.

I’ve tried keeping them in my purse – which is obviously the most logical solution. And this works wonderfully — until I change purses in a frenzy as I’m running out the door and leave the reusable bags and my favorite lip gloss behind in the old purse.

Someone suggested to me that I punish myself by buying reusable bags from the store if I get into line and realize I’ve forgotten mine. I did that. Once. But then my willingness to save the world conflicts with my willingness to save a penny, and I wind up just promising myself to do better next time. Because — A DOLLAR! A WHOLE DOLLAR! And their bags are ugly.

Perhaps I need to suck it up and buy a few more sets of bags so that I can keep one in each purse and a spare in my car. Yes, it will cost me more initially. But you can get good bags for so little money lately that it might be worth making sure I actually use what I paid for in the first place.

And, you know, the environment and stuff.

Does anyone else have problems remembering to use their reusable bags? Or if you’re an old pro now, did you have difficulty forming the habit in the beginning? Any suggestions for how to make it second nature for someone like me?

TGMR columnist Britt Reints is desperately trying to reconcile being green with being pretty. You can find more of her soul stirring emotional depth at Miss Britt, her personal blog.

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