Bags To Use In Place Of Single-Use Plastic Shopping Bags

by Texas Homesteader ~ 

Single-use plastic shopping bags are being banned in more & more cities. But you say you’re disappointed because you actually reused those plastic shopping bags?

No worries, there’s still plenty of plastic coming into your house to take their place – IF you know where to look! 

Cities are banning disposable shopping bags but you like to reuse them at home? There are other bags for you to use for FREE. #TexasHomesteader

(Note: Some links in this post will take you to other related articles for further information. But links preceded with * are affiliate links. If you click and buy something I could receive a tiny commission.)

Single Use Plastic Bags Being Banned

Many cities around the United States are trying to ban plastic single-use shopping bags. These bags are a constant source of litter.

And it costs cities heavily from their already-restricted budget to clean up all those bags that easily blow through the city streets and into the storm drains, into our lakes and high up in the trees.

Plastic bag disposable trash reuse. #TexasHomesteader

I’ve had to hurry into my pasture and remove a half-eaten shopping bag from a cow’s mouth as she was struggling to swallow it. Thank goodness I got to her in time.

Sadly it’s the carelessness of some people with this kind of litter that affects all of us.

Several cities in Texas have already banned these bags and more are considering it as well.

Although there are some who oppose banning plastic shopping bags, I for one applaud the decision to ban this plastic trash nuisance. 

Repurposing Plastic Shopping Bags At Home

Some people complain that there’s a downfall to banning plastic bags since they practice the environmentally-responsible task of repurposing them in their own home. 

Those people worry that if cities banned disposable plastic shopping bags it would mean they’d have to spend money to buy actual trash bags for their small bathroom trash cans instead of reusing shopping bags to fill that need for free. 

Well I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to buy small trash bags! There are still plenty of free alternatives.

What To Use To Line Small Trash Cans For Free?

My household kitchen trash can is the same size as a small bathroom-sized one that fits small plastic shopping bags as well.

But what surprises me is that even though I don’t bring home shopping bags there are STILL plenty of plastic bags that come into my home to use for lining the trash can.

I now watch for other bags to use for lining the waste basket. Bags such as the plastic wrapping carefully removed from a large family-pack of toilet paper. Or a plastic bag that once held a large family-size cereal purchase.  

Use a large plastic bag that toilet paper comes in to line your small trash can for free. #TexasHomesteader

Take a look around, I’ll bet there are plenty of OTHER plastic bags that already come into your home.

You can use those plastic bags in the same ways you were previously trying to re-purpose plastic shopping bags.

Shopping Without Disposable Plastic Shopping Bags

I learned to shun those awful plastic shopping bags many years ago. My three favorite ways to shun disposable plastic shopping bags when shopping are:

  • Carry Small Purchases Out In My Hands – Really there’s no need for a disposable shopping bag at all when I’m only buying one or two items. I just tell the clerk I’ll carry those few things out.
  • Reusable Canvas Bags – These heavy canvas bags were free give-aways many years ago. I love them because they hold much more than a regular flimsy disposable shopping bag would hold. And the straps make it easy to sling across my shoulder to make carrying even easier!

Reusable fabric shopping bags eliminate disposable plastic bags #TexasHomesteader

I’ve never experienced a problem with clerks not being able to place my purchase into my own reusable bag.

  • *Woven Market Shopping Basket – This is my favorite way to eliminate plastic shopping bags. It’s open wide at the top so it’s easy to place items in my basket as I stroll down the store aisles. (no more navigating crowded aisles with a shopping cart)

I use my handmade shopping basket to carry my grocery purchases without using a disposable plastic shopping bag. #TexasHomesteader

Then I simply unload the items at the cash register and the clerk scans the items and places them back into my basket for me to carry home. NO DISPOSABLE PLASTIC BAGS NEEDED!

The clerks actually love it and I’m often praised by those employees who comment about what a great idea it is. 

Reusable Shopping Bags Are Now Fashionable

Thankfully now it’s actually fashionable to pull out & use reusable shopping bags. So other than occasional times when I don’t catch the clerk in time, I haven’t brought a plastic shopping bag home in over 5 years now. 

Put on your thinking caps and I’m sure you’ll find lots of options for reusing the plastic bags already in your home to fill the need you previously filled with disposable plastic shopping bags.

And I’m sure you’ll feel mighty proud of yourself for your creativity and environmental care. 

Remember “REDUCE” comes before reuse or recycle.


This post categorized in    

Tagged in  All our favorite eco-friendly posts about repurposing. #TexasHomesteader   Our posts about reducing plastic in our homes & world. #TexasHomesteader       A list of all our eco-friendly posts. #TexasHomesteader  

Posts About Reducing Plastic

Reducing Household Waste

…and Many More 

All Eco-Friendly Posts

C’mon by & sit a spell!  Come hang out at our Facebook Page. It’s like sitting in a front porch rocker with a glass of cold iced tea – lots of good folks sharing!  You can also follow along on Pinterest, Twitter or Instagram.

If you’d like to receive an email each time a new blog post goes live it’s EASY to
Subscribe to our blog!

36 thoughts on “Bags To Use In Place Of Single-Use Plastic Shopping Bags

  1. Deborah

    Love this! We are always trying to remember to bring our bags but more and more it’s so needed. One tip people need to remember is to wash the bags cause they can contain bacteria even non-meat bags. Good to designate bags, meat, fruit, etc, although may be hard to have the cashiers deal with that. Also, some people state they don’t use trash bags but in many cities you can’t do that. They require you to have trash in trash bags. I think this is done because of crime searches and such.

  2. Texas Homesteader Post author

    Sandra I’m not sure about other cities but the recent Dallas movement is to charge five cents per bag used. I think although it’s such a small amount many folks will begin bringing their own bags or opting out of a bag if they’re only buying 1 or 2 items. Personally I’m THRILLED at the progress!

    1. Sandra

      Aldi’s has always charged. I think it was a smart thing to do. I am not opposed to charging.

  3. Sandra

    I have to admit, I think banning is a little extreme.
    If people want to bring their own bags, great. A lot do- but to force businesses to stop using them??
    I guess overall I am just tired of the “banning” items in general. Seems to be the new rage.
    Like banning Large Sodas, light bulbs, the push to ban certain words…

    I shop at Aldis and buy paper bags, I also bring cloth bags. Sometimes I forget and use plastic.

  4. Kristina (The Greening Of Westford)

    Amen! It took me a year to remember to bring my reusable bags consistently. I find them soooo much easier than plastic bags. They hold more (fewer trips to bring in your groceries) and they don’t hurt your fingers like someone else mentioned! I am finding that I don’t get the strange looks as often when I tell people I already have a bag or that I just don’t want one. I was at Target a while ago and watched a cashier ask each person in her line (each of whom was only buying 1 or 2 things) if they wanted a bag! I loved it! Most said no, but they probably wouldn’t have thought about it otherwise.

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      I’m seeing that more & more as well Kristina, cashiers asking if someone with only a few items wants a bag. Like you said, the customer probably wouldn’t have even thought about it otherwise.

  5. Crystal @ Serving Joyfully

    I am really so glad to see this happening! I live in a small town that is nowhere near doing this. In fact, when I bring my reusable bags, they complain about how much more work it is for them and how much they hate it, and/or they look at them like they don’t know what they are for. I always put my bags first on the conveyor belt, so they get those first, and I have literally had the checker pick up my bags, move them out of the way and put my items in a plastic bag! I wish more people in my area would use them 🙂 I actually think they are much more convenient when it comes to carrying groceries in.

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Yes ma’am Crystal, they’re so much easier to carry since you can often place them on your shoulders as well. I’ve never once had a clerk baulk at sacking my items or dare to tell me it’s too much work for them, but to be fair I realize that I’m a skip in their cogs since my bags don’t fit on their bag racks, etc and I almost always try to bag my own. I’ve had a few clerks tell me that it’s no problem – no need for me to bag my own they’ll do it for me, but I’ve never been told it’s too much trouble for them. (shakes head…)

  6. Texas Homesteader Post author

    So funny Joan, I am also surprised at the outrage of emotions. Dallas just passed an ordinance that charges $.05 per bag – they wanted to charge $.10 but didn’t have enough votes to get it passed. One person even addressed the City Council arguing that this .05 per bag ordinance was DISCRIMINATION since the bag was no longer free. (Shakes my head…) My hope is that now that the first baby step has been made people will come to accept it as a good thing.

  7. Joan @ The Chicken Mama

    Our city just banned single use bags. Such a flurry of negative comments in the newspaper! What an outrage of emotions from a small segment of the population! And…we all lived through the transition. I’m amazed at people who think they can’t get through the day without a receiving a free crappy plastic bag. Now, they’re out 10 cents per bag. And again, the earth still revolves on it’s axis. Amazing!

  8. Donna

    I’ve been wanting to make the change from plastic to cloth and your post just gave me the push I needed – I am a bag aholic anyway – I have plenty – so I will start using them.
    Thanks….love your posts!

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Donna, one of the very first things that made me stop accepting bags is that I joked to the clerks that those plastic bags must “reproduce in the middle of the night when no one is looking”! LOL I had a handy storage thing to keep them corralled for a while but was quickly overrun with them. Then I got to noticing how many bags go out with your purchases, almost like the clerks were being paid based on how many bags went out the door. Some bags had only a few items in them and many bags were doubled. And purchases that already came with a handy carrying handle like olive oil were still bagged so you’d have another carrying handle I guess. I started noticing how absurd the whole thing was for me & I’ve never looked back.

  9. Milessa

    22 years ago when we where station in Germany you had to bring your own bag / basket or buy paper bags when shopping on the economy. Even on post they pushed reuseable bags. Loved it came back to the states with my cool German bags. Every store I brought them in looked at me like I was crazy and even said things. So I caved and used their platic for the next 15 years. 5 years ago I said no use my bags/baskets/or no bags please. I have had greaters that check your receipt say “you know it would make it so much easier for me to check your purchase if you would let them just put your stuff in plastic. “. I have had baggers plastic bag items into my cloth bags. Told my bags don’t stay open. So I put cardboard in the bottom of all mine. Told my bags don’t stay or fit on their bagging tray. Have had 3 items put In my bags so they can plastic bag everything else. Told that my cloth sewed together bag is not as strong as when they triple bag my canned items. Big items that have handles on them needs to be bagged so you can carry them. Last but not least the dirt on the bottom will get your bag dirty or your trunk if I don’t bag at all. I know it’s mean but I have even took my bags to clothing stores to use. Now that is so much fun to watch the cashier and my children’s reaction to the reaction of the cashier. Baby steps.

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      YOU GO GIRL!!!! It’s the principle of the thing – I’ve told them to REMOVE my items from a plastic bag & place into my reusable bags as I requested in the first place only to have them remove the item and throw the plastic bag away – kinda defeats the purpose. But I’m vigilant and refuse to accept plastic bags. I placate the clerks by doing my own bagging when they let me. I’ve never had one tell me it was more difficult to use my own bags and as I said, nowadays they don’t even look at me funny – they just allow me to bag my purchases and more times than not give me a credit for each bag I brought & used. I use my reusable bags for all shopping: grocery, clothes, crafts, and even at garage sales. Keep up the good work!

  10. Andrea

    Great article! I am impressed that you were so forward thinking 10 years ago. Great job!! I just started using reuseable bags about 2 years ago. They are so much more convenient, sturdy and they hold many more groceries than plastic sacks (fewer trips to the car to retrieve bags is a plus!).

    Like many, I also use the plastic bags as bathroom trash liners, and I have never thought about trying to use other plastic bags instead. What a great idea! We will start doing that. Thanks for sharing this on Natural Living Monday!

  11. Texas Homesteader Post author

    Carol, I keep mine in the back seat of the car and for some reason it’s natural for me to pull up to the grocery store parking lot & reach in the back to retrieve my bags – I’ve never forgotten them. Maybe move them to the front seat when you head to the store as a visual reminder?

  12. Gretchen

    Great Post – we lived in France for 6 months and they don’t use bags. People would often just load the food into carts and load it into their car or into bins. Great point about finding other bags!

  13. Sue

    Keep medium size tubs in car have clerk put your groceries back in cart
    and put them in tubs once you get to your car. we do this at several stores.
    the tubs are easy to carry in and always in car, good for other things , wet
    plants, things you don’t want rolling around, camping supplies the list is endless.

  14. Barb @ A Life in Balance

    Like you, I would often refuse the plastic bag and just tuck the small item into my purse. In the last 6 months, I’ve gotten better about bringing my cloth bags into stores and using them. I also got rid of the reusable bags which are made from plastic. They’re almost as bad as the plastic ones.

    Thanks for linking up at Fabulously Frugal Thursday!

  15. Katharina

    You’re so right!!! It should even be REFUSE, reduce, reuse, recycle. And sadly, the first seems to be considered almost un-American by some! We opt out, no thank you, yes we’re sure!
    In Germany they charge for plastic shopping bags, and it’s hefty, like $.50 or something. Of course the bags you get are at least heavy and sturdy plastic (which encourages reusing), but since the price is so steep, it’s motivational to bring your own bags. People make changes only when they’re motivated and sometimes they need to be provided with that motivation (because a degrading environment and climate isn’t enough…)

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Katharina – “Refuse” should absolutely be first, especially when it’s something you don’t really need or even want in the first place. All it takes is a little different thought process, but it’s easy. I agree with a small charge being made for each bag that goes out. If someone NEEDS a bag or they want it for reuse somewhere they would be willing to pay a small fee. But as you mentioned it would certainly start that needed thought process on whether or not they really want it in the first place.

  16. Helene

    I walk back and forth to the supermarket and another disadvantage of plastic bags comes immediately to my mind-plastic bags hurt your fingers! The cloth ones that you can sling over a shoulder are much more convenient when you need to walk and multi-purpose wonderfully for other kinds of shopping like the mall.

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      That’s a really good point Helene. When we lived in the city RancherMan and I would walk to the store as part of our exercise routine. We figured we’re walking around the block, might as well pick up some bread or fruit while we’re out and about. The cloth bags were invaluable for that. Thanks for your comment.

  17. labbie1

    Well written thoughtful item. I just bounced over from Frugal Day, Sustainable Ways. We live and travel full time in an RV and I usually use my reusable bags, but from time to time I want the plastic bags since we have dogs and must pick up after them. Those bags just work so well–especially since one of our dogs is a 160 lb newf mix. 🙂

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Labbie1, I wonder if other plastic bags from products you’re already buying might work just as well? The handles do make convenient ties, I’ll agree, and with a large dog you’d need a good-sized bag. From what I understand the bags will probably still be given out for a very nominal fee, probably cheaper than buying a plastic bag specifically designed for pet pickup? Hummm… Lots to think about – thanks for your comment.

  18. Susan

    Last October, our county banned single-use plastic bags at almost all stores (including grocery, clothing, electronics, drug, hardware, big box, etc.) Only the tiniest stores can give out free bags. Even paper bags can not be given out for free, but can be sold for $.10 each.

    There’s definitely a learning curve. We keep cloth bags in all the cars so we won’t forget, but we still sometimes get half-way through our shopping and realize we’ve left thebags in the car. Depending on the quantity of items, we either send someone back to grab them or we just carry out our items by hand. In the early days of the change, you would often see people leaving stores carrying 10 – 12 items out by hand–we were all learning together. It doesn’t take long to adapt, though. I think now it would seem strange to be given a bag for just one item.

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Interesting Susan. I would think there would be a learning curve as people figure out the new system. I have a shopping bag that several other other shopping bags are folded and placed in, I keep it in my back seat (we no longer have children at home that would typically be riding back there) I also have a single larger shopping bag rolled into a little plastic sleeve that I keep just under my passenger seat. When I get to the store if it’s a quicker shopping trip I’ll just reach under my seat and grab that one automatically.

  19. Meghan

    I admittedly love getting plastic bags, they are perfect for our dog poo bucket that gets changed weekly (2x if we have a foster); as well as a toddler in disposable diapers part time and my caged chinchilla’s cage cleanings and litter… they are a perfect evil for me.
    There are several stores that either dont have or charge for bags and I love being able to use my basket and cloth bags!
    When the day comes that no stores have them, I’m not sure what we’ll do, probably buy them in bulk.

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      Meghan, not knowing the size requirements involved this may not be helpful, but I’ve heard of individual pet pickups being done with other plastic bags that previously contained such things as bread, tortillas, carrots, newspapers and the like. Or perhaps the bags from larger family-sized items like cereal and TP for larger needs? Maybe even non-food item plastic wrapping that always seems come with some household items? Maybe there’s an appropriate-sized bag already floating around the house somewhere that will fit some of your needs. Just a thought.

  20. Ashley

    Instead of being banned, here they just charge you 5 cents per bag! I’m trying to get into the habit of bringing my own reusable ones, and I’m getting better but sometimes I do forget. I do find the plastic ones handy for little garbage cans like under the sink and in the bathroom, though.

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      I’m hearing of many cities charging a small fee for them as well Ashley. Maybe that’s the best of both worlds? I think there will be many fewer bags for single-item purchases or double-bagged items if the consumer has to pay for them. And at only .05 per bag I’m guessing it’s probably still less expensive than small purchased trash bags? Thanks for your comment.

  21. Gail @

    We lived in Europe for awhile, and most stores charge the equivalent of 10-20 cents for plastic bags. So most folks carry their own shopping bags to avoid this minimal cost. Of course, Europeans have never had as much plastic as we have, and for many years went to the open air markets with their baskets in hand. I actually enjoy bringing my own bags, and our local Whole Foods now allows us to donate the bag cost to charity.

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      I loved Whole Foods when we had one close to us before moving out here – primarily for the fact that I could buy in bulk with less packaging waste and on occasions even bring my own containers (although I realize that’s an accounting nightmare for them) I love that you can donate the bag cost to charity. I think the reason plastic bags are such a litter problem is because they have no value. The clerks at retail stores often hand them out like Pez, double-bagging single items, etc. and there’s no extra expense to the consumer so they take them and then try to figure out what to do with the growing mountain of bags. Add a nominal expense for each bag and I’m sure you’d see a very drastic reduction in the numbers of these bags going out.

  22. Texas Homesteader Post author

    Thankfully we have a recycling facility about 30 miles from us in a town we have to frequent relatively often for business, so we accumulate our recyclables in paper feed sacks and take it when we head into that town. I had to research to find a place that took recycling but I’m glad that I have this option for glass/milk jugs/paper. Most black/white paper I compost since we don’t have much coming in, but I don’t like to compost the shiny colored paper.

  23. Candy C.

    Remember when the stores actually paid you 5-cents each for using your own bags? I try to take my bags when I go shopping but do forget occasionally. I do re-use plastic bags at the Farmer’s Market to put customers’ purchases in when they don’t have their own bag and I take excess bags back to the store for recycling too. I agree about the plastic bags being a blight on the environment too. Which reminds me, there is one tangled up on the east side of the pasture fence I need to pick up. (sigh)

    1. Texas Homesteader Post author

      When I brought them home from the store I always tried to reuse them or at least recycle them as well Candy. But I’ve found that now that I don’t bring them home I don’t miss not having them, and I’m so surprised at the amount of plastic that still comes into our home. It’s became almost a competition with myself to see how much I can eliminate. LOL Good for you for reusing them at the Farmer’s Market.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

* Please enter the Biggest Number

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.