9/17/2009

Reusable Bags Don't Reuse Themselves


Reusable shopping bags have been around for decades. But they really became en vogue a few years ago. Today, nearly every major retailer has their own bags for sale, and there's instructions readily available to make your own. Reusable bags make so much sense that the city of San Francisco as well as many countries around the world have banned or now tax plastic disposable shopping bags.

We're not here to convince you to make the switch - that case has already been made. No, this is a post about what happens after you've bought the bags.


We were out running some errands the other day. We went to check out with a few small items and the Mrs., as always, said, "oh, and I have a bag."

Now typically, that's followed by a nod from the cashier, a few beeps from the register, cash, change, a receipt, and a "have a nice day". But not on this day, with this cashier.

No, on this day we got a very different response. The cashier looked up as the Mrs. unfurled the shopping bag, and said, "Those are so smart. You know, we bought several of those, but I never remember to take them to the store." The Mrs., quick on her wits that day, replied with, "Yeah, I had that problem too, but then I started making myself turn around and go back to get them." The cashier was impressed, as was I. We finished the transaction and left.

Now this lesson is not a new one, but has a similar result. Lets look at what the cashier said - we bought the reusable bags, but yet don't use them. He bought the bags. So what's the problem? It all falls down by the simple act of forgetting them at home. It's not about a mechanical solution or a magic pill. It's about your behavior, and a life change like this requires a change in your behavior.

Where have we seen this before? It's the cash envelope system. I've heard from countless individuals that cash doesn't work and the envelopes are a pain. It's only a pain if the behavior doesn't change. It doesn't work when you spend mercilessly. None of it is worth anything without a plan and constructive behaviors.

Again, the solution is only 20% head knowledge - the other 80% is behavior. Back to our talkative cashier. Knowing that reusable bags are the right thing to do and buying them only got him 20% there. And there are very few arenas where 20% is considered passing. He didn't change his behavior, and thus failed.

Like the Mrs. said, if she forgot them at home, she'd turn around and go back home. Left them in the car? She'd drag the kids back out to get them. Success only came after behavior change.

Success with cash, and with bags.

6 comments:

Miss.Jen said...

Just remember to wash out those reusable bags! They harbor bacteria.

Kika said...

The easiest things to do is always leave them in the vehicle. But I could also use a tiny compact bag in my "purse" for those impromptu purchases.

David said...

Once in a while, I forget to take my bags along. Recently, I stopped in to pick up a couple of things, and Lorretta the cashier asked 'wheres your bag?'. Oops.

And, I guess I should put them in the laundry next time I do a load.

autumnesf said...

I am guilty of this one and havent broken it yet. But, since the youngest is now in school it really is not a big deal to go back to the car. With her in tow there is no way...I hate screaming kids at the store and will not add to that mess! LOL!

Steph @ Greening Families said...

I started making myself carry out the items without a plastic bag whenever I forgot my reusable bags. I would explain what I was doing to the cashier as well and almost all of them said they had a hard time remembering their bags as well. Old habits sure can stick!

eringoodman said...

great post!!!

i recently posted about reusable bags on my blog. changing to cotton string bags and making a place for them in my car has made all the difference for me!!!!

http://eringoodman.com/blog/?p=7939

thanks for stopping by and commenting on my blog.

~erin

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