Welcome to Green Boot Camp

Welcome to Green Boot Camp blog, a 52-week program to help you become a greener you in 2008. This is the companion blog to The Lean Green Family (formerly Suddenly Frugal).

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Week Seven--Where To Snag Reusable Bags

Probably the easiest way to secure enough reusable bags for your grocery shopping (and other kids of shopping as well--you can take these bags to the mall, you know) is to head out to a store like Wal-mart and pick them up for $.99. Some people have talked about trying craft stores, but that's not always the cheaper option. Here are some ideas you may not have considered.

* Ask family, friends and neighbors for their leftover canvas bags
My mother is a retired physical education teacher, and still attends at least three professional conferences each year. That means that she comes home from each conference with at least one canvas bag. Before I turned her onto this notion of using reusable bags, she told me that she had been throwing out the canvas bags, because they were taking too much space in her closet. Ouch. Now she knows better. Maybe you know someone like my mom, with an abundance of canvas bags and who would be willing to share her tote largesse with you.

* Put a posting on Freecycle or Craigslist
I've seen wackier things in the "wanted" section of these free sites than canvas bags, so why not give it a try?

* Thrift stores and garage sales
You never know if people are donating canvas bags or putting them out for sale at their garage sale. Try trolling tag sales at churches, rummage sales at synagogues and any other place where you can pick up stuff you need at dirt cheap prices. You may just find that these are the perfect places to pick up canvas bags for a song.

If I think of other clever ways to snag bags, I'll let you know. In the meantime post if you've got additional ideas.


Dana Miller said...

Lots of reusable bags are made from petroleum - based materials, are made in sweatshop like conditions and then shipped into the US. Check out www.baggy-shirts.com for reusable bags made from recycled clothing. Local artisans are paid a liveable wage, addressing the triple bottom line of people, profit AND planet!

Leah Ingram said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Leah Ingram said...


Thanks for telling us about your awesome company. Here is a link that should be "live" for people to click on: http://baggy-shirts.com/cart/index.php

I see from your website that you work with Goodwill-like organizations to get your supplies. Have you ever considered working with schools to do clothing drives? You should check out the company Terracycle in Trenton, NJ, to see its model for getting schoolkids to collect its supplies and send them to the company. In return, they make a small donation to each school that participates. I hope I can write about your company in one of the magazines to which I contribute.

Edgewater said...

Another place to get a reusable bag would be to make one or purchase one from a surplus store.

If you own a sewing machine, you can make your own sturdy bag from remnants or cloth placemats.

I also use bags that I have received from conferences/workshops. Many times they are very strong and once you leave the conference there aren’t dozens/hundreds of people carrying the same bag as you are!


Leah Ingram said...

What's so cool is that some of the local grocery stores have started giving away one of their reusable bags free at the checkout counter, as a way of enticing shoppers to buy more on their own. I think I'll be grocery shopping in a couple of different places in the next few weeks so I can get a free bag from each place. Then my collection of reusable bags should be complete!