Throughout my career as a professional organizer, I have come across some pretty impressive collections of plastic and brown paper bags. I have unearthed what feels like thousands of plastic, paper AND reusable bags you could build a small house out of them! They are stuffed into the space under the sink, shoved into the depths of closets and spilling out from every nook and cranny in the kitchen.
It’s ok to hang on to a few of these bags to use to throw trash in before sending it to the main bins outside the house or to line a smaller trash can. I like to use this nifty contraption that you place under the stink the tame the plastic bags. I’m not allowed to keep more than this container can hold.
Paper bags can be re-used to line trashcans or animal cages. They can be used to cover books to help them last longer, and can be turned into gift wrap (which you can have fun decorating) or packaging material.
What do I do with all those extra reusable bags, you ask? The first step is to take inventory. After you have all the bags in front of you, you can let some go and keep your favorites. Once you have whittled down the excess, stick to your new bag number limit. For example, when someone offers you a reusable bag at an event–just say no! As for the extras, plan a reusable bag drive in your neighborhood, collect as many reusable bags as you can and then hand them out to people as they enter a grocery store.
Keep several reusable bags in your car and try to remember to take them into the store. Use a post-it note on your visor to remind you until you get into the habit. Also, place a couple reusable bags on hooks near the front door. That way, you can just grab them on your way out. As soon as you unpack your groceries, return the bag immediately to their home. Reusable bags aren’t just for carrying groceries either! Take them to the mall or on a trip to Target.
There are so many reusable bags on the market today that you can find several to suit your personal style and personality. They can even be customized and monogrammed! You can even find bags that when rolled up are small enough to fit into a purse or the pocket of a coat!
Here a couple of my favorite online retailers that sell cute and stylish bags.
So now that you are armed with your reusable bags, reduce all that plastic and paper bag clutter and at the same time, know you are doing something great for the environment!
Claire Jackson is the founder of A Bright Room, Professional Organizing Services in Boston, MA. After spending the last decade working in the fast-paced industries of public relations and fashion in San Francisco and New York, Claire relocated to Boston and began her dream career as a professional organizer. Claire is an active member of the National Association of Professional Organizers. (NAPO) She lives in the South End neighborhood of Boston and enjoys cooking, reading and exploring the city on foot. Claire can also do an amazing Running Man.