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Reuable shopping bags

Reusable shopping bags are a popular place to start and have become a habit for many people around the world. Swapping to reusable alternatives helps reduce microplastics ending up in the environment at their source as well as reducing plastic waste in landfill.

What you can do

Choosing reusable bags and making a habit by keeping a stash in handy locations.

How can you do it

Many people use reusable bags as an alternative to plastic bags, but they are only reusable if you remember them. Some favourite places to keep bags are in the staffroom, the car or bicycle basket, at the front door, or where you keep daily essentials such as keys, phone and glasses. 

People tell us that a great habit to get into is returning their reusable bags to their usual spot straight after unpacking their groceries. That way they are always available, even when making an unexpected trip to the shops.

Often people ask us what are the best bags to use. The best bags are the ones you already have. 

Many supermarkets and shops are banning/phasing out plastic bags. If you’re a business owner, you may like to consider offering your customers incentives for bringing their own bag or asking them if they’d like to pack their items into a bag they are already carrying.

Taking the next steps

Many people get creative if they forget their reusable bags. Some Plastic Free July participants grab an empty cardboard box from the supermarket shelf, juggle their items, or even use their hat or ‘hoodie’. Coming out of the supermarket awkwardly cradling your groceries is a great way to remember your bag the next time you shop. 

Others consider making their own reusable shopping bags and zero waste produce bags using repurposed fabric or giving new life to items such as faded pillow cases. Check out the global Boomerang Bag movement for inspiration. If you do need to buy a bag, choose one made from natural fibres and try to reuse as many times as possible to offset production costs.

For those living in areas that have not banned the plastic bag yet, you could consider getting involved with a local advocacy group and petitioning your governing body to make a change.

The impact

  • Reusable bags help reduce single-use plastic that is fatal for animals who mistake it for food or become entangled in it
  • Consumer pressure encourages major businesses to improve their sustainability measures
  • By choosing to refuse plastic bags, you will reduce the microplastics that end up in and remain indefinitely in the environment

More ideas

What others do

Glass of lemonade, bunch of straws and a plastic juice bottle

To find plastic free ideas, take the Plastic Free July challenge

Reusable carry bag, keep cups and bamboo cutlery
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