Okay, here’s an organizing topic that I’ve never really thought about much before: shopping bags. But this weekend it occurred to me that no matter what type of shopping bags you use – plastic or reusable – they can easily turn into a cluttery mess. So let’s talk about how to declutter shopping bags and then organize the ones you want to use.
If you’re like most people, you probably have a collection of shopping bags that has accumulated over time. I mean, how many of us have seen the memes about having ‘bags of bags’ under the kitchen sink and felt like it was a completely relatable situation?
By taking the time to declutter your bags – and maybe try a few of my other real-life decluttering tips – you can feel at least a little bit better about your efforts to keep your home clean and organized.
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Why Decluttering Bags Is Important
Do you have a pile of shopping bags in your closet or pantry? Or maybe several piles in places all over the house? Deep down, you know it’s time to declutter them.
You’re probably keeping a lot of them out of guilt or because you don’t know what to do with them – especially if they’re plastic shopping bags. But just piling up more and more bags isn’t doing anything to help you or the environment.
Shopping bags can take up a lot of space. By decluttering, you can free up that space and make room for other things. Plus, you can practice making intentional decisions about what you really need and perhaps how you want to shop in the future – whether or not you want to use reusable bags, etc.
How to Declutter Shopping Bags
What do you do with too many grocery bags? For some people, it’s a simple process of tossing them into the trash. And if that’s how you want to handle it, that is totally your choice! When it comes to decluttering, you have to do what’s right for YOU.
For those of us who tend to overthink every little thing, let’s lay out a step-by-step process to get through this without ending up overwhelmed or with a huge mess.
1. Sort Your Bags
The first step in decluttering your shopping bags is to sort them. Gather all of your bags and place them in one area, like a table or even the floor.
Then, separate them into different piles based on their material, size, and condition. This will make it easier to decide which bags to keep and which ones to discard.
2. Decide What to Keep and What to Discard
Once you’ve sorted your bags, it’s time to decide which ones to keep and which ones to discard. Keep in mind that you don’t need to keep every bag you own. Only keep the ones that are in good condition, the right size for your needs, and that you will use.
- Keep reusable bags that are made from materials that can be easily cleaned or recycled, such as cotton or canvas.
- Discard bags that are ripped, too soiled to clean, or have broken handles.
- Keep clean plastic bags in good condition that you KNOW you will re-use for things like holding meat packages when shopping at Aldi, cleaning up messes when you’re on the road, scooping cat litter, etc.
- Donate unused and very clean reusable bags that are in good condition but you no longer need.
3. Recycle Plastic Shopping Bags
Recycling your plastic shopping bags is an easy way to reduce waste and help the environment. Many stores offer recycling programs for their bags with boxes at the front entry, or you can take them to a recycling center in your area.
If you have plastic grocery bags that are still clean and in good condition but you no longer need and can’t recycle, you may be able to donate them. Where I live, busy roadside farm stand owners appreciate getting extra plastic bags from people they know and trust.
How To Organize Shopping Bags
Decluttering shopping bags is great, but you’ll still want to organize what you’ve got left so you know where they are, so they’re not messy, and so you’ll actually use them.
Best Way To Organize Plastic Grocery Bags
If you have a collection of plastic grocery bags, the best way to organize them is to use a plastic bag holder. To keep everything tidy and out of the way, try a wall-mounted bag holder and dispenser.
These are especially nice if you want to store your bags in more than one area of the house… like near a litter box or in the garage.
Another option is a patterned bag holder made of cloth. These holders can be hung on a hook or doorknob and are designed to hold multiple bags. Once you have your holder, simply stuff the bags into it until it is full. This will keep your bags organized and easily accessible.
It’s also easy to ‘grab and go’ if you like to take plastic bags along with you when you’re shopping or running errands.
One other DIY plastic bag storage hack I’ve used in the past is to store plastic grocery bags in an empty facial tissue box. It holds a fair amount, and it’s free.
One thing I don’t really recommend is folding your plastic bags into little triangles or ‘footballs’ just so they look nice and neat before you put them inside something else. It’s really time-consuming and unnecessary.
Best Way To Organize Reusable Bags
Reusable bags can be a little trickier to organize because they come in different shapes and sizes. One pretty option is to use a storage bin or basket. Fold your bags neatly and place them in the bin or basket.
Now that most stores allow us to bring our own bags again, I like to keep my reusable bags handy so that I remember to take them shopping. I fold them up neatly inside one bag and hang them on a hook near my jacket and keys. I also tuck a few plastic grocery bags down in there for holding messy grocery items like meat packages. Then I can just grab the whole thing as I leave the house.
How to Clean Reusable Shopping Bags
Don’t forget that if you want to keep your reusable shopping bags in good condition and extend their lifespan, it’s important to clean them regularly. Here are some tips on how to clean your shopping bags:
1. Check the care label: Before you begin cleaning your shopping bag, check the care label. Some bags may be machine washable, while others may need to be hand washed or only wiped with a damp cloth.
2. Remove any debris: Shake out your bag to remove any loose debris or crumbs. If there are any stains or spills on the bag, pretreat them and use a damp cloth to gently blot the area.
3. Hand wash: If your shopping bag is not machine washable, fill a sink or basin with warm water and a small amount of mild detergent. Gently agitate the bag in the water, then rinse thoroughly with clean water. Hang the bag to air dry.
4. Machine wash: If your shopping bag is machine washable, wash it with other items on a gentle cycle with warm water and a mild detergent. Avoid using bleach or fabric softener, as these can damage the bag. However, you may wish to use an in-wash fabric sanitizer.
5. Dry thoroughly: Once your shopping bag is clean, be sure to allow it to dry completely. This will help prevent mold and mildew from forming. Cotton bags can usually be dried in a clothes dryer, which will help to sanitize them. Check the care labels if you have bags made of other materials, as some may need to be air-dried.
By following these simple steps, you can keep your reusable shopping bags clean and in good condition for years to come.
Alternative Options To Plastic Shopping Bags
If you’re constantly dealing with the clutter of plastic shopping bags, you might be able to eliminate the issue with some of these ideas:
When it comes to shopping bags, reusable bags are a great alternative to traditional plastic bags. Not only are they eco-friendly, but they are also durable and often easier to carry.
Reusable bags come in a variety of materials, such as canvas and even recycled plastic. They are also available in various sizes, so you can choose the best size for your needs. They’re also lightweight and can be easily folded and stored in your car or your bag for easy access.
Another alternative to plastic bags is paper bags. While they are not as durable as reusable bags, they are biodegradable and can be immediately recycled after using, which makes them a great choice at the grocery store if you have the option.
Believe it or not, one of the best alternatives to shopping bags is no bags at all. If you’re only buying a few items, consider carrying them out by hand. This not only saves you from having to use a bag, but it also saves you time and money.
Another option is to use empty boxes you might find around the store. This not only reduces waste, but often allows you to get your purchases home with less damage thanks to the sturdy cardboard. Once you’ve unpacked your groceries, you can simply recycle or reuse the box!
More Decluttering And Organizing Help
Remember, the key to declutter shopping bags is to be ruthless. Don’t hold onto bags that you don’t need or use. If you have a surplus of bags, letting some of them go really is the best option!
When you do bring home new bags, be mindful of how many you’re accumulating. Try to limit the number of bags you keep, and opt for reusable bags whenever possible. Not only will this help keep your home clutter-free, but it will also help reduce your environmental impact.
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