Too Many Reusable Bags

I’ve shared my first world problems on this blog in the past. It’s true – my life is a veritable vale of privileged, petty tears. Did you know, for example, that I’ve been meaning to do some laundry all day but I keep forgetting? Of course, I could do it right now, but I don’t want to get out of this chair. I sense the laundry may never get started. Oh, woe is me!

Okay, so nobody’s about to organize a telethon on my behalf, that much is clear. All the same I’ve recently encountered another first world problem to add to the list: I have way too many reusable bags. Some of them I purchased, but just as many were given to me (or someone else in my family) as part of some promotion or other. In an effort to appear green, many businesses and event organizers are giving away reusable bags like they’re candy. On one level, that’s great. On another level it’s even worse than giving out plastic bags. Many reusable bags – and certainly most free ones – are made out of materials that won’t biodegrade, like recycled plastic bottles. These bags are much heavier than disposable bags, and they generally can’t be recycled into something else. If you’re going to reuse a bag hundreds of times over a period of years, you’re clearly coming out ahead. But if you never actually use it at all, it’s not what I would call sustainable.

Reusable bag overload

I’m not the only one with this first world problem. Many people talk about their reusable bag overload. So, what is one to do when faced with an overflowing pile of bags? Some people suggest giving them friends and family, but with the way my friends and family are constantly trying to pawn their own reusable bags off on me, I don’t think that would fly. Other people suggest donating them to your local thrift store, using them as gift wrap, or making crafts out of them. Some folks have even organized bag-sharing programs to find good homes for surplus bags.

The biggest solution to having too many reusable bags, though, is stemming the tide. Don’t bring more reusable bags into your home than you need. I have a few nylon bags that fold up really small, so I can carry them in my purse and use them wherever I happen to be. It keeps me from using plastic, or buying another reusable bag to add to my collection. If you’re at a conference or event, you can always decline a new reusable bag, especially if you have one on hand already. I’d also like to suggest to event organizers that if they need a single use bag – and something you’re stuffing with coupons to give away can really be considered single use – paper may be a better option than reusable.

I’ve donated my current bag surplus to a local thrift store. For now, my bag cubby is manageable. We’ll just have to see how long it stays that way.

Do you suffer from reusable bag overload? How do you handle it? I’d love to hear!

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  1. No solutions here but I have this problem too. Waaayyy worse than you do if that pic is all that’s left of your collection!! 90% of the time I use my little fold up nylon reusable bag and the other 100000 sit in my pantry collecting dust. I think I may be making a big thrift store donation sometime pretty soon! That somewhat bugs me, because does ANYONE need all those bags? It’s kind of like when I donated pthalate and pvc-ridden toys to the Sally Ann….do the needy kids really have to play with them because my snobby middle class kids aren’t allowed to?
    eva’s last post … Happy Birthday Emily!My Profile

  2. Sadly, my first re-useable bag just found its way to the garbage! It was a sad, sad day. The handle broke and my husband stuffed it in the garbage to hold all the garbage – it’s last go round at being useful. I thought, “hey, I should just sew this up and re-use it!” but alas, I was kind of happy to find an excuse to get rid of it. I used to have 6 re-useable bags that I used over and over again. And then one day someone gave me about 10 and then my husband picked up a bunch of freebies and then we got handed some at a new business, and well, yeah, I completely relate to this post. Glad to know I’m not the only one drowning in re-useable bags.
    Melodie’s last post … The Night My 7 Year Old Made DinnerMy Profile

  3. I’ve said more than a few times that reusable bags are the newest plague on the Earth. It’s insane how many I have and most of them have come from conferences or companies supplying them to me for one reason or another. I don’t really have a plan for them. I certainly try not to get more. And then I just use the ones I have until they eventually fall apart. Oh yes, and I’ve given a number away to friends when I drop off gifts or baking or hand-me-downs or whatever. They always offer to give me back the bag but I tell them to keep it – so I’ve probably just added to their bag problem by doing that.
    Marilyn @ A Lot of Loves’s last post … Ghost in the Phone and a Cruise on the HorizonMy Profile

  4. I currently have a reusable bag addiction. I haven’t had the heart to let them go, but when garage sale time comes around most will be bundled and sold for a dollar! The positive part of my addiction is IKEA bags! I LOVE them. We take them to the grocery store (along with my favourite Costco bag) and groceries suddenly become less of a hassle. They hold a TON and they are way easier to handle over 10 small reusable bags. The best part is IKEA bags are shoulder friendly and make it way easier when we are hauling everything up to our 12th floor apt! Glad i’m not the only one with a bag collection! Great Post! -Kate

  5. Even with my personal carry bag, I prefer cloth or canvas materials…. in all, I own… four, and it four seems sufficient.
    nelle’s last post … traumaMy Profile

  6. Um, I’m always kind of short on reusable bags. Anyone care to send me a shipment?
    Inder’s last post … Fence and postage stamp lawn.My Profile

  7. This is a pet peeve of mine. If you are trying to be more earth friendly, stop giving out reusable bags. Stores use them like plastic bags. I have too many as well and I am constantly trying to pawn them off.
    Lisa’s last post … Wordless Wednesday- Rink RatsMy Profile

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  1. […] I am not alone.  My friend Amber Strocel has blogged about having too many reusable bags.  And in her post, she links to others in the same situation.  Reusable bags have become the swag […]

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