Let's Talk About

Would You Like a Bag?

5 years ago by

Would You Like a Bag?

I’m pretty good about bringing a reusable tote with me to the supermarket, but recently I’ve been really trying to cut out all disposable bags when shopping for anything. I know that this isn’t a new and novel concept but it has really changed the way I operate.

My local deli always wants to give me a plastic bag for the single milk carton I purchase once a week. Can I really not walk across the street holding my milk without a bag??? Once you start noticing something very simple like that, it really makes you angry when you see someone, who is perfectly capable of holding their sandwich in their hands (which is already wrapped up), carrying their sandwich in a plastic bag!!!

What simple things do you do to make a difference?


Add yours
  • I use the plastic shopping bags as garbage bags. Figure that is better than buying garbage bags. Also reuse the plastic bags for vegetables and such instead of plastic wrap. If anyone can convince me why I shouldn’t do this please do. Don’t get the logic of buying plastic garbage bags or plastic food wrap when shopping bags are available, reusable and free.

  • Reusing plastic bags as trash bags is a wonderful idea! Thanks for the tip. xx Elle

  • i bring my own bags most of the times. i even considered carrying one on me all the time, like an old lady! :)


  • regular shopping bags aren’t biodegradable whereas you can buy biodegradable garbage bags so if you use this method you’re helping the environment. where I live in Australia regular plastic bags are actually banned so you have to bring your own bags to the supermarket/corner store etc. if you forget you have to go without or pay 15cents per bag for either a paper or biodegradable bag. worth it if you ask me. there’s so much rubbish and pollution in the world, every little bit counts!

  • I do have a reusable tote for groceries. I also re-use plastic bags.
    I try not to buy bottled water if possible but carry my own bottle with me that I fill at home with filtered tap water.

    I like the idea of giving a new life to things. I was brought up this way. I mend clothes if possible. As I spend a lot of time in the country I can re-use a lot of stuff there. Old clothes, various containers etc, etc.


  • As always nice post dear!


  • Plastic bags for trash, use the bags in the small pins around your home. Glass containers and jars that we get from the market that holds (cheese, honey, and coffe beans, nutella, etc..) can be reused if you take off the label and just used it again and stuff it with anything you want! (Nuts, sugar…) the difftences of the jars could make a beautiful rustic display!


  • Helena May, 17 2016, 2:09 / Reply

    Like J. I also reuse plastic shopping bags for garbage and recycling. NYC has some of the best tap water in the world and I don’t understand people buying bottled water. That said, I also don’t get too worked up about this stuff and I don’t judge others on how much or little they do to minimize their footprints. The bigger picture is that with greater technology we all use more and more. We get new phones and electronics annually, we get on airplanes more often now, we use air conditioning, cabs, we buy more and more clothes the cheaper they get….a few plastic bags here and there don’t really compare to the energy used in making, marketing, and shipping an iPhone every year. So I think the little gestures are nice but we need to be realistic about how little they actually are and not get too worked up judging others. Maybe the they don’t care about the plastic bag for their milk because they’re using their cellphone for a few years. You never know.

  • Roslyn May, 17 2016, 2:10 / Reply

    In Europe they ask if you need a bag (and usually charge if you do). Here you have to ask NOT to have a bag. It would help if we made that switch here.

    My big cause is getting loose plastic bags off the streets so that the next swirl of wind doesn’t send them up into the tree branches. It’s depressing to see them hanging up there out of reach. So I pick up (clean) bags if I see them on the street. If more people did, we could compensate a little for the excessive use of bags, especially plastic ones, in the US.

    For me, it helps to hang totes on the door knob so I grab one on the way out. And to keep a foldable one in my handbag (if I’m carrying one) all the time. And to get nice-looking bags I enjoy carrying. In the end, especially for us Americans, it’s all about changing our mindset.

  • Nitu singh May, 17 2016, 2:31 / Reply

    Here in Delhi , I have started an initiative to get rid of plastic and paper bags by designing beautiful chic cloth bags at really every price range . The added beauty is that all these cloth bags are being made by women affected by riots ! With the money they earn , many of them are sending their kids to school for the first time …

  • Thank you so much for sharing this. It is great to hear about what other places are doing to work on this issue. xx Elle

  • Theresa May, 17 2016, 3:08 / Reply

    Glad to see a post about this! I’ve really been into the “zero waste” (although I prefer to call it “less waste”) lifestyle that’s been gaining momentum in the media lately. Reusable bags are a great way to start, but there’s more to think about after that. Try a Google search for Trash is for Tossers or Zero Waste Home. So much inspiration! :)

  • I’ve always used a large bucket style handbag. Years ago after purchasing a few small items at a store, a friend and I got back in my car and I placed my handbag on her side. She happened to peer in, and quickly looked at up me, horrified. I knew what she was thinking. It was still a time when very few people did not ask for a bag. It was a revelation for her. I wish I could isolate the scene of the garbage dump from the movie “Unfaithful”. People don’t understand where trash goes…or they actually believe the majority of it is recycled. It’s not.
    In his book “Paris the the Moon”, Adam Gopnik wrote a story about a little Chinese restaurant near his apartment in Paris, that had no containers for take-out. The owners were unfamiliar with the concept. Gopnik got the owners to agree to allow him to use his own containers.

  • Ai-Ch'ng May, 18 2016, 2:38

    Over hundreds of years ago, my great-grandparents, then my grand-parents, my parents, and now we, do the same. Indians in parts of India – especially the ones who provide a daily catering lunch service to workers too time-pressed, or disinterested in cooking, still do the same.

    Whenever we get the rare take-out (Chinese, or Indian), we always bring along our own “tiffin carriers” – a set of three to four containers that stack on top of ones another, and are secured by a metal frame that clicks everything (as securely as one can expect with these containers), with a little, metal handle to carry the whole lot. We have two sets (to feed our invariably hungry family), that we always bring to the restaurant for them to fill with our takeout. These same containers (made of metal, or some hardwearing, safe plastic) are usually cool-looking enough for plonking straight onto the ding table, and either serving – or eating – straight out of.

    Best idea ever: thanks, Grandma and Grandpa!

  • therese May, 17 2016, 3:21 / Reply

    We have to pay for bags in California so many bring their own, I try and keep on on me at all times. One of the problem with the light weight plastic bags is that they get loose even in land fills and go air born ending up in bodies of water and nature. So I think that was one of the reasons to try and get people to stop using them They end up being very destructive. I have to say that it still is hard to refuse a bag here even with the charge. Everyone wants to just bag it and move on. I often take the item out of the bag and leave the bag behind.

  • In Germany it’s been since forever that everyone keeps a grocery bag at all times.
    It’s great, you never have drawers full of plastic and everybody (people + stores) have embraced this. It’s refreshing, to walk around and not be exposed to so much plastic –

  • i just moved to NYC and i am shocked how badly in terms of the environment things are working. where i come from, you have to pay for plastic or paper bags. i even would think it is a nice idea to start charging people for their coffee to go. it´s plastic all over. often, even you eat in-house, you get everything in plastic, tea, coffee, food with at least 20 napkins. i think it would be super-easy, if everyone, would just give things a little thought and refuse things. as above said already, no need to carry a water container with a handle in two plastic bags or an already wrapped sandwich.
    i think small things in everyday life, could change big time.

  • yilin May, 18 2016, 8:59

    overpackaging is too much no matter how fancy it could be.

  • Sabine May, 17 2016, 6:52 / Reply

    I often bring my own bags and containers to buy groceries and have for 20 years or so, but didn’t realize how I take plastic for granted after all. We were on a vacation in Nova Scotia when we decided to buy some fruit at a Loblaws Store in Halifax. The store has a 0 plastic bag rule.
    None. Nowhere. Nothing. Being on vacation I didn’t bring a bag with me and I was chagrined to be caught without one – the cashier gave me a stern look!!! It reminded me that I can do better if more is expected of me. Lesson learned.

  • I carry a baggu, Kleen Canteen (for coffee) or Swell bottle everywhere, refuse bags and receipts. It’s become a habit. I try to repurpose things if I can. But yeah, food packaging waste is ridiculous. I’m lucky that Toronto has a good recycling and composting program but even so, I try to juice my scraps or use veggie stems in soups and salads.

  • Ai-Ch'ng May, 18 2016, 2:28 / Reply

    I can’t believe this post has popped up, just when I was wondering how to get in touch with you all at the Studio about a wonderful, environmentally-loving item I purchased over the weekend (it seemed too odd to simply “drop you a line” out of the blue).

    It’s the Memobottle – a rectangular shaped water bottle (inspired by the old metal hip-flasks, I’m guessing, which makes so much sense ergonomically) that is about an inch deep, and sized A4, A5, and A6. The A6 (the size I bought) holds 375mL of water/fluids, the A5 double that, and so on, and fits really well into my super-flat handbag that I never imagined would fit any container for fluids.

    These flat, clear, BPA-free bottles fit into (the current trend of) super-slim, small, slightly structured bags with ease. In a workbag, they nestle comfortably alongside your laptop (they have a leak-proof lid). Wash with a dilute solution of vinegar, or the special bottle cleaning tablets you find at drugstores, or the Memobottle bottle cleaning tablets. They’re also great for uni students, alongside their numerous files. Despite my raving about this flat water bottle (I now wish my car had a flat slot to sit this, rather than the round cup-holders), I don’t work for the company in any capacity, or know the designers (but am so proud they’re fellow Aussies from my old home town, Melbourne): I just love this idea!

    I had almost resorted to carrying a hip-flask filled with water in my bag, but the looks on people’s faces when they mistook me for drinking alcohol way too early – and far too frequently – in the day, turned me off that idea.

    The other things I’ve done the past four years, include the same as your other readers: re-using plastic grocery bags as garbage bags, and carrying along two very lightweight, parachute fabric shopping bags in my handbag (they roll so small and I sewed a bit of elastic on them, so I could keep then rolled up firmly and tiny in my rather small handbag) for any shopping. I only ever accept plastic bags for my lunch where it’a messy, leaky, or oily kind of lunch (yes, in winter, I like to eat rich food for lunch).

  • yilin May, 18 2016, 9:03

    i’ve seen one of those on the internet!
    how’s the user experience except for the not-fit-in-the-car part?
    does it leak?

    Thank you!

  • In France, we use stores bags in trash bags for a very long time. I am very surprised to see that that countered new in USA. Which just goes to show that the old continent is not so late that that ! ;)

  • in Italy plastic bag are forbidden since 2014, supermarket have to use bioplastic bags. quite similar to the plastic ones but completely biodegradable. I thought we were not the only ones…

  • Anonymous May, 18 2016, 5:35 / Reply

    I have a dozen cloth bags by the front door. That way I never forget to take them to go shopping. I also put a light foldable one in my purse…For emergency.

    I take wood ash from the winter fireplace and fertilise my flowers for spring and fall….I also do this with banana peels. Chemical fertiliser is poisonous and costs money.

  • Huge fan of baggu bags. They are made out of ripstop nylon, so they are pretty indestructible. They come in cute colors and patterns and the fold up into a cute little pouch, so I try to always carry one with me. They can fit so much, the people bagging them are often surprised. And they are easy to throw into the wash. I used to never remember to bring bags and they were bulky.

    Chicago created a plastic bag ban and now all the stores make really thick plastic bags (because they can technically be reused), which kind of drive me crazy. They are substantial enough to reuse for heavy duty things, but they seem to defeat the point of the ban. I like that they charged for bags when I was in Italy.

  • When I moved to the States from Europe I had a huge culture shock regarding the overflow of plastic everywhere. Coffeshops give you plastic forks and knives without recycling, every single restaurant gives you plastic straws (why?), I never understand why people buy these tiny water bottles instead of drinking tap or using a filtered bottle. And the grocery store….oh my god! It just adds up like crazy. My favorite shop at home sells groceries in bulk where you bring your own containers to fill them up. Would love to some of that here. If I buy bulk in the US you have to get it in these plastic containers that are non-reusable. And the fact that plastic never disappears from the earth gives me goosebumps…so scary

  • Thank you for bringing this up and giving this subject the attention it deserves.

    I reuse everything! I wash jars and use them to store grains / spices / you name it (you can decorate them if you care to). I have some plastic bags that are decades old. I reject bags when shopping, even the really fancy ones. They are just trash! It got to the point where I won’t buy anything if I can’t carry it / haven’t brought my own bag, and the same goes for food. I bring my cups to the juice bar next door, and they all know me as I’m the only girl who does it. And I take trash out about once a month because I barely have any (I compost the edibles).

  • Ici à Montréal, nos sacs de plastique il faut les payer 5 cents le sac. Ce changement encourage les gens à donc avoir leurs propres sac réutilisation. Cependant, je suis en auto et j’oublie mon sac réutilisable à la maison. Sachant, que je ne veux pas payer j’apporte mes patates douces, mon oignon rouge, mes bananes et autres dans mes mains jusqu’à mon auto et hop tout sur le siège passager, lol! De plus, lorsque je vais dans les centres commercials, je ne demande jamais de sac. Je le mets dans mon sac. Sinon, j’aurai beaucoup trop de sac de plastique.

  • En France, les sachets en plastique distribués gratuitement, ça n’existe quasiment plus … Encore un peu à Paris. Il suffit de les payer une fois, un peu chers parfois je l’admets.
    Les mentalités ont vraiment évolué à ce propos et je trouve ça génial, et tellement dépaysant : je trouve qu’il y a une espèce de mode des “beaux” sacs réutilisables maintenant, quel supermarché fera les plus jolis. Monoprix en fait des vraiment jolis et solides.
    Personnellement, j’utilise beaucoup les tote bag en lin ou en coton, ceux de marques qu’on reçoit avec les achats de vêtements (ex. Claudie Pierlot, Sézanne, APC ..), ou alors ceux qu’on peut acheter vraiment n’importe tout. Il y a vraiment un crédo “mode” dans ce domaine là!
    Après tout, la mode est partout non ? ;)
    Bisou au studio!

From the Archives

French Gurus
  • French Gurus
  • Holiday Gifting
  • This or That
  • Happy Holidays!
  • #AtelierDoreDoes
French Guru / Christophe Robin

French Guru / Christophe Robin

French Guru / Martine De Richville

French Guru / Martine De Richville

french guru valerie espinasse garance dore photo

French Guru / Valerie Espinasse

laura nolte in her words garance dore photo

In Her Words: Laura Nolte

In Her Words georgia graham grarance dore photo

In Her Words: Georgia Graham

joelle ciocco garance dore photo

French Guru / Joelle Ciocco

In Her Words: Lauren Bastide

In Her Words: Lauren Bastide

French Guru / Laura Mercier

French Guru / Laura Mercier

marina khorosh dbag dating in her words

In Her Words: Marina Khorosh