Frugal Living 

Save Earth & Cents with Reusable Shopping Bags

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This Is Not A Plastic BagFrugality has met environmentalism at my local Giant supermarket as those 99 cent reusable shopping bags can now net you a five cent discount at the checkout register. It’s estimated that Americans consume a hundred billion plastic shopping bags each year and we recycle about none of them. Those hundred billion end up in the woods, in the water, and in the throats of small furry animals, so do your part and start using reusable shopping bags because it can actually save you some money too.

At 99 cents each and a nickel discount each time you use them, it’s a mere twenty visits before each bag pays for itself. After the twenty visits, you start turning a small profit on the bags and can save yourself some money while saving the environment. And if you don’t want to spend the dollar on a reusable bag and you don’t have any totes, you can always turn a tanktop into a shopping bag (or use some other feat of ingenuity). 🙂

These stores offer some sort of discount for using a reusable shopping bag:

  • Giant Foods,
  • Whole Foods,
  • Trader Joes,
  • Krogers,
  • Super Fresh

If you know of a store that offers a discount for using a reusable bag, please leave it in the comments below and I’ll add them to the list.

(Photo by bsing)

{ 21 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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21 Responses to “Save Earth & Cents with Reusable Shopping Bags”

  1. miller says:

    We’ve been using cloth bags at our super market (which does not offer a discount) for about a year. It really dawned on me once we started recyclying how many plastic bags we end up “using” at the supermark for no really good reason. See, we can’t recycle those plastic bags where I am, so once we started recycling everything else, it became shocking how wasteful those bags are.

  2. Steven says:

    Wait a minute … I thought we made the change away from those oh-so-evil paper sacks in favor of the wonderful plastic bags in order to save the ecology. Now they are bad??? I’m confused…

    Can we go back to the paper sack? Then there isn’t any problem with biodegradability…

  3. Yvette says:

    What if you use the plastic shopping bags for other things, such as for trash small cans at home? Does that count as recycling? It prevents one from having to purchase Heavy or Glad plastic trash bags from the store.

  4. Lau says:

    Same as miller here. Hubby and I have been using those bags for about 9 months now

    I like them a lot. You can put a lot more groceries in one of these bags than you would a plastic bag. No discount at Shaw’s, and each bag is $1, but so worth it IMO.

  5. Glenn Lasher says:

    These are a great idea. We’ve been doing this in one form or another since the 90’s. I know that Hannaford has offered a discount for bringing your own bags for at least that long. Our other major local chain is Price Chopper, and I don’t go there often enough to know if they offer a discount or not.

    There are also two discount chains in our area, Price Rite and Aldi, both of which give a de facto discount on the grounds that they charge for bags.

    Doing this back in the 90’s, we had a bunch of burlap tote bags we were using, and it got us the funniest looks, because almost nobody was doing this sort of thing at the time. As we are greenies, we used them even if the store didn’t offer a discount for doing so.

    The bags that Hannaford currently sells are really neat. They fold up into a neat little package when you aren’t using them, and snap shut to stay folded. Opened up, they hold easily twice as much as a plastic bag.

  6. sarah j says:

    Allow me an ironic aside: I ran into the Target two days ago, and out of the rain, and fled to the back of the store to grab biscuits for my dogs and nail polish remover for me, both essential items, naturally. There was a little end cap by the express check out selling bags like Glenn is talking about that zip into a wallet-sized pouch when not in use and imprinted with trees with little targets on them where the leaves should be. Functional, aesthetically pleasing,and green, right? So I picked one up and put it on the conveyor belt where, after ringing it up, the cashier threw it and my biscuits and nail polish remover, into a PLASTIC bag! So Target’s marketing and merchandising folks have gotten the memo on reusable bags, but it appears the message hasn’t trickled all the way out to the soldiers on the field yet.

  7. I agree the bags pay for themselves financially, but they also make you feel good too!

  8. AndyS says:

    Always good when frugalism and environmentalism come together (an upcoming topic on my blog). America is finally catching up with the rest of the world when it comes to non-plastic bags. The other good effect of getting rid of plastic bags is lower oil. How you may asks? Well, it takes oil to make plastic… it.

  9. Master Allan says:

    Sarah – About 10 years ago I worked as a cashier at Target and probably the only real environmentally concerned checker on the front lanes I was known for some unusual tactics. If I could save a bag I would; good for the company and environment. Do I really need to put your one single item in a plastic bag? Some customers felt the plastic bag was proof or purchase…”don’t want security to come after me”. Ahem, that’s what the receipt is used for, not a generic plastic bag. Also if I could I would load durable items into baskets or containers the customer was purchasing. I live on the third floor and even today hate when I have to carry 7 bags up the stairs. It is always so much easier to carry a single box or two instead of juggling multiple items…some understood, some didn’t.

    Later another company I worked at discovered that with purchasing and delivery fees those little cups by the water cooler was costing 5 cents a plastic cup!! Shopping at Costco the office manager found on clearance some plastic cups for 20 cents each. He bought a bunch, passed them around. Six years later I still use it every few days for drinks. It saves the company money, good for the environment, and my favorite, it’s XX-Large!

    It’s all those little frugal things that many have followed to prosperity

  10. I love the cloth bags. Even if it had no impact on the environment and I got no money off at my gorcery store, I would still use the cloth bags. 3 cloth bags at most and I have all my groceries for 1-2 weeks. It would take 7-8 plastic bags packed full or 10-12 plastic bags packed the way the idiot baggers pact them. Why do they put everything in seperate bags? All those bags are a pain to carry. Now I don’t have to wheel a cart to my car, as I can carry everything by hand.

    I love that communities are starting to outlaw the plastic bags.

  11. Jim says:

    WinCo offers a 5 cent discount per bag.

  12. I know IKEA also charges for bags.

  13. Ursula Sindlinger says:

    Raley’s offers a few cents a bag. Just can’t remember how much. They sell clothe bags too.

  14. Kate says:

    Stop and Shop also offers a 5¢ discount.

    I have many cloth tote bags that I use. It disgusts me when I see the people with 10 or 15 plastic bags in their carts, especially when none of those bags are packed well! I personally think supermarkets should charge for the bags–then people will really start to think twice!

    The only times I don’t use my tote bags are when I’m purchasing chicken, and when I need paper bags for my recycling.

    I used to forget them a lot–now I always keep extras in the car so I have them no mater where I am!

  15. Randy says:

    I work for the Wonderful Big Red Dot and October marks a great day in Target’s move towards being Green! Starting in October a five cent discount will be given per reusable bag used while checking out! This only refers to reusable shopping bags/totes, not old one-time use bags. Also, we are not discriminating, bring your Walmart, Publix, World Market, Trader’s Joe reusable bags, but we prefer Target bags!! hope you all continue to make a difference in the world of reusable bag!

  16. Valerie says:

    I love the cloth bags!! I got a couple at smart foods,the next thing I know I have a collection of the darn things.they are everywhere! It is worth the effort,I keep a stash in my car,use them for shopping,it is so much easier to bring your stuff inside.I always use them.and i am doing the world a little favor.

  17. aua868s says:

    interesting to see how the “developed countries” after enjoying (read exploiting) natural resources and polluting environment for a few centuries want “developing countries” to curtail emission and care about environment!…..i am fully for greening the planet initiative….but if that is used as a ploy to keep the developing countries to remain developing for ever(lol), thats not right…My point is just do not say stop emission to poor and developing countries..but pay up for what you have done to become rich countries in the first place by transfering green technologies for free to the poorer countries and compensate them for the economic growth they would lose by using green technology…i know I am inviting comments here…but would be glad to discuss!!peace!

    • saladdin says:

      The continent of Africa has been developing for centuries. There are more then economic restrictions/controls such as emission controls that have kept countries in the stone ages. “Green policies” are not in the top 5 reasons why Sudan is a death trap.


  18. Anonymous says:

    do not use the plastic bags

  19. reducereuserecycle says:

    Here is a cool short film about the life of a plastic bag.

  20. Anonymous says:

    I have called Kroger to ask if they give a discount for using the cloth shopping bags, and they said they do not! I called the corporate office for Kroger and said they no longer offer that program. Bummer! I guess their name needs to be removed from the list.

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