It’s now been almost a year since the major supermarkets nixed single-use plastic bags from their stores. And it’s led to a dramatic decline in the number of plastic bags making their way into landfill.
In fact, in just the first three months of the bag ban, there was an 80 per cent drop in the consumption of plastic bags nationwide, according to the National Retail Association (NRA).
Single-use plastic bags are already banned in most states, with only NSW and Victoria to go. The Victorian Government has committed to banning single-use plastic bags from the end of 2019. Which means that there’ll be even fewer plastic bags making their way into the system.
Of course, we’re still not quite there yet. The major supermarkets now sell thicker plastic bags to shoppers who have forgotten their own bags. And while these are billed as being reusable, many of these are still making their way into landfill rather than being reused.
The more we get used to taking our own bags to shop, the better for the environment. But we know that it can be hard to make a habit stick. So here our tips for getting the most out of your reusable bags.
We all have our own way we like to shop and what we like to buy. Having a mix of bags on hand means you can choose the right bag for the stuff you need to carry.
Choose the right bag
At Base, we’ve thought a lot about what makes a good reusable shopping bag.
The Shopper Base is ideal for your big supermarket shop. The flat base means you can open it out in the trolley and easily pack your shopping. And the strong design mean you can carry cans and bottles without worrying about your bag breaking.
Keep Cool does what it says. This roomy insulated bag features a zippered top to help keep your cold stuff, well, cold.
While the generous design of the To-Market Base makes it ideal for carrying those awkward market buys like celery stalks, bunches of flowers and baguettes. The long handle allows you to throw it over one shoulder, keeping your hands free for your coffee and freshly baked croissant.
Get enough bags
It’s not just about having the right bags but also having enough of them. If you do a few shops during the week, then two or three bags might be enough. But if you do all your shopping on the same day, and visit the farmer’s market, grocery store and a handful of speciality places then you’ll want to have enough bags to hand to avoid running out (or squishing things together).
From a food hygiene point of view, it’s better to have designated bags for different types of products, like your meat and veggies. Unless you’re vigilant about wiping out your bags, there is always the chance of cross-contamination. Choose different coloured bags so you know what each one is for.
Base bags can be cleaned easily by wiping down the interior and exterior with a damp cloth. For any spills, you can spray lightly with a disinfectant.
Put them where you need them
The obvious place to keep your shopper bags is in the boot of your car. But think about other times you might shop during the week. Perhaps you like to pop out at lunchtime to grab a few things to keep in your snack drawer at your desk (no judgement!). Or you might wander into the corner store while walking home from the gym. In which case, having a bag at work and one in your gym bag will mean you always have one when you need it.
Then make sure you put your bags back whever you store as soon as you’ve put away your shopping. Make this the last step so you know your bags are always where you need them.
If you find you’re always leaving your bags in the car when you get to the supermarket, set a reminder to grab them when you pull into the supermarket carpark.
On iPhone, say: “Hey Siri, remind me when I get to [the supermarket name and suburb] to get my shopping bags from the car.” You can check your location settings in the reminder to make sure it’s the right location.
On Android, you can do the same thing with Alexa. Or grab the Google Keep app, set a reminder and link it with a location.