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Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Thoughts on Reusable Grocery Shopping Bags

I’ve been an advocate of the habit of carrying reusable bags for shopping for a while now. I am very happy that many people are now practicing the same habit so that shoppers can avoid the use of plastic bags. But I still have my reservations when it comes to reusable grocery tote bags...my biggest issue with it being how “reusable” they are.

I still stand by my earlier post and prefer reusable canvas/tote bags, particularly for groceries. The ones that are usually sold at grocery stores are made of the type of cloth material that tears easily if the contents are too heavy. This will eventually end up in the trash. Are they even compostable? 

The bigger ones, while reusable, are usually made of plastic which, in the long run, will be another thing to add to the growing number of solid waste in the world. Just thinking about it gives me so much anxiety. 

My sister and I have made it a habit to ask for boxes instead of bags when we go grocery shopping. It’s much more practical than carrying hordes of bags when we do our shopping for monthly household needs. We figured it’s much more practical considering that grocery stores do have these boxes when items are delivered to them.

It was a surprise to us when one day we were informed at SM Hypermarket that they are no longer allowed to use boxes to pack our purchases. We were forced to buy their small reusable bags, which were so impractical to carry, especially since not everything can fit into bags of that size. We have since started to bring big reusable shopping bags, but I still feel it was much better to use the cardboard boxes we were used to.

reusable grocery bags


According to a sign I saw, the reason they are refusing to let shoppers use the boxes is because they will be sending those boxes for recycling. I found that odd – isn’t it practical that they are reusing the boxes with the shoppers who, in turn, can send the boxes off later for recycling? 

Sometimes I think that it's more of an optics thing: it’s a good way to show corporate social responsibility, a good way to show they are being “earth friendly.” Other times I think it’s a profit thing too since those green bags go for P10.00 each, and it costs even more money for the bigger bags. 

As disappointed as I was about this development, I still appreciate that an effort is being done to be earth-friendly, even if I feel it’s not quite the perfect move. At least it’s a step in the right direction somehow. It makes people more aware and more conscious of what can be done to reduce our use of bags that eventually end up in the trash.

I wish that stores could have a way of recycling the bags that they sell since, as I said, they will eventually tear (for the small bags) or are made of plastic (for the bigger ones). It would be great if they can collect these bags from their shoppers – maybe they can have a collection area in each store and show how these bags can be recycled/reused to ensure that they don’t end up in a landfill or worse – the ocean. 

We are still a long way to go before we go zero-waste when it comes to shopping. I don’t even want to start with online shopping on this one. I just hope that eventually we can figure something out that will be best for everyone – the shoppers, the stores and the planet as a whole.

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