Groceries are an inevitable fact of life, but don’t let boring brown paper or plastic rain down on your parade. Make more of a statement when you go to the supermarket and bring your own reusable bags. It’s good for your wallet and good for the planet.
There are plenty of incentives to bring your own bag when shopping. Plastic bags require millions of barrels of oil for production each year in the United States and can take hundreds or even thousands of years to break down. Plastic pollution often ends up in open waters and drinking water sources, threatening public and ecological health. Unlike regular plastic bags or even paper bags, durable reusable bags are much less likely to break or leak when loading and unloading groceries.
In 2018, Wilmington and Tewksbury Town Meeting members voted to establish bylaws to eliminate the use of single-use plastic bags by retail establishments. Since 2019, companies have been allowed to use recyclable paper and thick plastic bags with handles.
In March 2020, Governor Charlie Baker issued an emergency order that suspended bans on single-use plastic bags in 139 municipalities across the state with bans. However, he rescinded the order in July 2020 and re-authorized bans to be issued; his action followed published research demonstrating that COVID-19 was not transmissible through surfaces.
The move was applauded by lawmakers and environmental groups across the state.
With many stores now charging for paper and plastic bags, investing in reusable bags makes economic sense; nickels and dimes accumulate over the years and could end up costing your family close to $100 a year. You can even be rewarded even more for reducing your carbon footprint: stores such as Trader Joe’s are hosting a “BYOB” – bring your own bag raffle, and Whole Foods and Target are giving back a penny for each reusable bag used.
No longer just a utilitarian piece, more and more chains are turning their reusable bags into works of art. Trader Joe’s shoppers may be familiar with the Boston-themed green and blue reusable bag found at local stores, but did you know there are custom bags in over 35 states across the country? ?
The design of each bag represents the different culinary and regional traditions of places across the United States: blue crabs for Maryland, oranges for Florida, ham for Virginia and lattes for Rhode Island, to name a few. only a few. Collectors keep checklists of bags they have acquired; allegedly, states need three stores before they get their own bag — Maine, for example, with a single location in Portland, has a ways to go.
Some bags contain beloved local recipes that can be made with Trader Joe’s ingredients. Flip the Missouri bag over to make a gooey butter cake or check the side panel of the Kentucky bag to learn how to build a Louisville Hot Brown sandwich. Have you ever wondered what chocolate egg custard is? You’ll have to head to Indiana to find out.
Trader Joe’s also offers a range of “mystery bags” during the holiday season – buy a sealed cardboard envelope containing three bags and see what condition you get! The brightly decorated bags are works of art in their own right and make for a fun treasure hunt while traveling or trading with family and friends from out of state.
Whole Foods and Hannaford offer colorful reusable bags with eco themes. The bags also have practical uses beyond groceries. Reusable bags with handle are perfect for the beach and easy to hose down at home to remove the sand. Canvas bags are also sturdy and have all sorts of uses. Easy to wash and reuse, the bags have become designer statements while making shopping easy to carry.
The bags are also great for gift giving, forgoing excess wrapping and wrapping paper and giving a gift within a gift. Demand is so great that there are secondary markets for eco-retail bags on Ebay and Etsy, not only for TJ bags, but also for Whole Foods, IKEA, Foodland, and more.
Retailers are also testing “beyond the bag” options that use kiosks to essentially rent out the use of a bag and then provide a way to return the bag to the store. And while shoppers intuitively bring their bags to the grocery store for their food purchases, all retail stores like Walmart, CVS, and Home Depot are places where a reusable bag can be used perfectly.
Whether you’re looking to carry groceries or pick up some new wall art, reusable bags are reaching new heights as both eco-friendly and good-looking products. The next time you want to help the planet, take the opportunity to step out in style with a trendy reusable bag.