I admit it. I was a reusable bag junkie. It started when I was a sustainability officer for a large company. Reusable bags were better for the environment. Using them made me feel better about myself. So, I started collecting them. There were only a few at first. They came from grocery stores, department stores, fairs, festivals, business meetings, and volunteer groups. Everyone wanted to have their company name and logo on a bag and I gladly supported them by taking their bags. Too many bags. Pretty soon, my back seat floorboard was full and overflowing onto the seat. It was a problem for people riding in my car. “What’s with all these bags?” they asked. I had to transfer some to my trunk. “You can’t have too many reusable bags,” I said. But, I was wrong.
All bags are not created equal. Polyester ones take more energy to produce. Organic cotton ones are better. They don’t have chemicals that can leech onto the food inside. You can also wash and dry them. I found out that you should always use food bags for food and not other items like diapers or gym clothes or kids toys. It is also better to use bags manufactured in the U.S. that are sturdy and can withstand cleaning. The more local the bag, the better (less transportation means less pollution and you support local businesses).
So, I eventually fessed up. I had a problem and I had to face it head-on. As painful as it was, I culled my huge crop of bags. I went through my back seat and trunk and I tossed out the cheap bags, the ones that were falling apart and ones that were visibly dirty and couldn’t be washed. I washed the cotton ones. Then, I organized them in another reusable bag in my back seat. Now, people can get into my car, I don’t worry about contamination from dirty bags and I can breathe a sigh of relief. I am no longer at the mercy of my reusable bags. I even pass up opportunities to collect more of them now. “I have plenty,” I say. And, I do. How about you?