5 Steps to Manage Your Plastic Grocery Bags

Updated on July 1, 2017

It's the old joke "The only thing I learned from my mom was to hoard plastic bags inside of another plastic bag."

We all shop, we all wind up with plastic grocery bags. Even people who use reusable grocery bags sometimes go home with plastic.

They do come in handy sometimes. They make great trash bags for your bathroom or in your car. Some people use it for their cat litter, and they're great on trips to hold wet swimsuits.

But they aren't great sitting in a pile in your pantry, or in a drawer that you would rather be using for something else.

Plastic Shopping Bags Everywhere? Declutter, reduce, and switch to reusable bags as often as possible.
Plastic Shopping Bags Everywhere? Declutter, reduce, and switch to reusable bags as often as possible.

1. Fold Your Bags for When You Need Just One

Identify places that could use just one or two plastic bags. Such as the glove box in your car, in your purse or under the bag in your trash can as an extra.

Start by laying your bag out flat, the more care you take in these steps the nicer your packet will turn out. Then fold it in half, then in half again. You're going to fold it into a triangle shape starting at the bottom and working your way up. When you reach the top you just tuck the end in and you're done. So easy.

Fold your bags into packets to save space.
Fold your bags into packets to save space.

2. Make a Plastic Bag Dispenser with a Tissue Box for Easy Storage

I found this trick on Pinterest. You link your bags together and shove them all into a tissue box. Then you can store it under your bathroom sink or wherever you end up reusing your grocery bags the most. This will allow you to make the most of your space and it even looks kind of pretty.

3. Take Extra Bags to the Store for Recycling

Don't throw your leftover bags in your recycling bin just yet. Plastic grocery bags usually can't be processed at the regular recycling plant and you'll have to take them back to the store where you got them. Most grocery and retail stores have plastic bag recycling. If you don't see a bin in their entryway just ask an associate. They will know where you can recycle your bags.

4. Invest in Some Reusable Grocery Bags

Invest in some reusable grocery bags so you aren't bringing as much plastic home. I know I acquire way more plastic bags than I'll ever be able to use. My favorite bags are the Planet e ones by Eco-Stream. They are cardboard reinforced and ridiculously strong. (My husband packed one of them full of Dungeons and Dragons books to take to sessions and had no problem.)

I can usually fit about 4 plastic bags worth of groceries into one of these bags.

I am a cashier and while I personally like packing reusable bags I know that other cashiers don't. The Planet e bags have reinforced sides so they stand up on their own. This makes packing them easier than packing plastic bags. (Other types of fabric bags are flimsy and don't sit right on the bag holder, making them harder to pack.)

I also have a couple bags that fold up and fit in my purse. They are so handy when I'm buying just one bag of groceries at the end of my shift.

5. Store Your Reusable Bags in the Car

"Oh no, I forgot my bags at home." I hear this every day and I'm guilty of it too. Your bags won't do you any good sitting at home. Avoid this by storing your bags in the car. That way if you forget them when you're out shopping all you have to do is run out to your car before you check out. Then, once you get home and unpack make sure you put the bags back into your car.

You can also set them right in front of your doorway or under your purse so you remember to take them with you when you leave again.

What Are You Going to Do With All That Space?

Now that your plastic bags all have homes what are you going to do with the space they used to occupy? Let me know in the comments.

Questions & Answers


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      • nochance profile image

        Chloe Davis Smith 19 months ago from Minnesota

        Thanks. I occasionally fall off the bandwagon and suddenly I have plastic bags everywhere.

      • lions44 profile image

        CJ Kelly 20 months ago from Auburn, WA

        Great advice. It took me a while to switch to reusable and now I don't know how I lived without them. Plastic still plays an important role, but at least I manage them better now. Thx. Sharing everywhere.

      • nochance profile image

        Chloe Davis Smith 20 months ago from Minnesota

        Yep. I'm a big believer in reusable bags.

      • profile image

        Tuyen Hoang 20 months ago

        the best way to manager plastic bag is reduce to use it. Encaurage people use reuse bag !