I’ve shared my first world problems on this blog in the past. It’s true – my life is a veritable vale of privileged, petty tears. Did you know, for example, that I’ve been meaning to do some laundry all day but I keep forgetting? Of course, I could do it right now, but I don’t want to get out of this chair. I sense the laundry may never get started. Oh, woe is me!
Okay, so nobody’s about to organize a telethon on my behalf, that much is clear. All the same I’ve recently encountered another first world problem to add to the list: I have way too many reusable bags. Some of them I purchased, but just as many were given to me (or someone else in my family) as part of some promotion or other. In an effort to appear green, many businesses and event organizers are giving away reusable bags like they’re candy. On one level, that’s great. On another level it’s even worse than giving out plastic bags. Many reusable bags – and certainly most free ones – are made out of materials that won’t biodegrade, like recycled plastic bottles. These bags are much heavier than disposable bags, and they generally can’t be recycled into something else. If you’re going to reuse a bag hundreds of times over a period of years, you’re clearly coming out ahead. But if you never actually use it at all, it’s not what I would call sustainable.
I’m not the only one with this first world problem. Many people talk about their reusable bag overload. So, what is one to do when faced with an overflowing pile of bags? Some people suggest giving them friends and family, but with the way my friends and family are constantly trying to pawn their own reusable bags off on me, I don’t think that would fly. Other people suggest donating them to your local thrift store, using them as gift wrap, or making crafts out of them. Some folks have even organized bag-sharing programs to find good homes for surplus bags.
The biggest solution to having too many reusable bags, though, is stemming the tide. Don’t bring more reusable bags into your home than you need. I have a few nylon bags that fold up really small, so I can carry them in my purse and use them wherever I happen to be. It keeps me from using plastic, or buying another reusable bag to add to my collection. If you’re at a conference or event, you can always decline a new reusable bag, especially if you have one on hand already. I’d also like to suggest to event organizers that if they need a single use bag – and something you’re stuffing with coupons to give away can really be considered single use – paper may be a better option than reusable.
I’ve donated my current bag surplus to a local thrift store. For now, my bag cubby is manageable. We’ll just have to see how long it stays that way.
Do you suffer from reusable bag overload? How do you handle it? I’d love to hear!