BYOB: Bring Your Own Bags

ChicoBags-- I'm a sucker for the pretty stuff.

Just as I advocate buying reusable snack bags (mine are from Snack Taxi and PB Green Bags), I’m also a big fan of bringing my own bag to the grocery store. It’s a pretty common practice in LA (and hopefully where you live)– one of the very few things that makes me feel hopeful that the world is not completely going into the gutter.

There was a period of time when I’d go home to visit my family and my mom would inundate me with new grocery bags, mostly from chain grocery stores. I would try to use them, but often I’d forget my bags in the trunk– or, if I used them, I’d forget to put them BACK in my trunk. And when I walk to the store from my apartment, carrying a bunch of big bags can be quite unwieldy– especially if you don’t end up using all of them. (Or have to walk past an upscale restaurant’s outdoor seating area and don’t want to look 100% dorky.)

And sometimes I just end up randomly at the grocery store, completely on the fly– say, while walking back from the Post Office. (I go to the grocery store almost every day– I’m not really a long-term planner when it comes to my food-shopping.)

Enter a few bags that are so small that you can carry them around in your purse… or your glove compartment… or on your belt loop.

I was first introduced to ChicoBags when I was at Sam’s place and we were headed out to the store to buy ingredients for dinner. “Here,” he said, tossing over a palm-sized little bundle. (Maybe I swooned a little– guys who care about the environment are sexy.) I was so impressed at their portability and function (and adorable designs) that I bought a few online. (Sam’s are just solid colors, for the less flashy set.)

ChicoBags are attached to the little bag that holds them, so you don’t have to worry about losing the container bag. And they come with a carabiner, so you can attach them to anything! The snowman one was a freebie when I ordered the others, and was described as a “gift bag.” Sometimes I worry that sharp things (like box corners) are going to poke holes in it, but the others (yet unused) seem to be made of a slightly sturdier material.

I also think the Valentine’s Day ones would make great gifts. (And I just spoiled a few of my Valentine’s Day gifts… great.)

Probably my favorite bag in rotation right now is my Baggu, a gift from Serious Eats when I pre-ordered their book.

Threw in my sunglasses for scale.

I could just as easily throw a ChicoBag into my purse, but for some reason the Baggu keeps making the cut. Maybe because it folds up really flat. (In February I’ll throw the Valentine’s ChicoBag into rotation.) (Honestly, if I had a bigger purse I’d carry two– I always seem to bring one bag and need two.)

The Baggu sometimes confuses grocery store employees. I think it’s a little shallower than a normal bag? But it holds a lot of volume length-wise, and you can carry it over your shoulder. (I don’t think you can do that with smaller ChicoBags, but they sell bigger ones… the snowmen can do shoulder.)

The one downside of the Baggu is that I’m constantly worried I’ll lose its pouch, because it’s completely detached. If I lose the pouch, I guess I could use a Ziploc bag… but that’s not as fun.

The best thing about using a Baggu or a ChicoBag or a cloth bag or a reusable Ralph’s bag with a kooky Hollywood logo on it (thanks, Mom) is that it makes you feel cool (well, maybe not the kooky Hollywood bag)– hey, I’m doing something for the Earth! And other people will see you and go– that’s a good person. Maybe they’ll give you a validating thumbs-up. Maybe they’ll give you their number! (If you want it.)

And– oh yeah– your apartment won’t be overflowing with little plastic bags. (I try to re-purpose the ones I DO have as trash bags.)

What are your favorite reusable grocery bags?

xoxo…

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