10 Ways to Remember Your Cloth Grocery Bags

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Cloth, not Plastic

Okay, I admit it. My cloth grocery bags get left in the car more than half the time. Then I opt for paper or, if I’m not paying attention, those plastic bags. Both do get recycled, but given how deadly plastic is when it escapes to the ocean, it bugs me that I haven’t retrained myself. Especially since I’m a recovering psychologist with plenty of behavior change training, it bugs me no end.

Plastic in the Ocean

I’m assuming you’ve heard how plastic bags are not good for our planet, especially the ocean and its wildlife. If you need a refresher, check out this engaging four-minute mockumentary narrated by Jeremy Irons, The Majestic Plastic Bag.

OFFICIAL SELECTION 2011 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL Narrated by Academy Award-winner Jeremy Irons, this "mockumentary" video, hammers home the stark reality of California's plastic bag pollution situation.

With and without Laws and Fines

Those of you in places that have fines or bans on single use plastic bags, probably have an easier time, but in my town we have no legal motivation. I’m using my blog to motivate myself, and maybe you, with ways to get this habit change in place.

10 Ways

Before you go shopping –

1. Buy a whale bag to inspire you.  

2. For women – Buy a string bag  that stays in your purse.

3. On your shopping list, write down what special you’ll buy yourself when you remember to bring the cloth bags

4. Use a dashboard sticky pad to keep your phone with shopping list visible in your car.

Costs: If you forgot, create a cost to yourself -

5. Use a hand basket instead of a wheeled one

6. Ask for recyclable paper bags

7. Buy a cloth bag on the spot

8. Donate money to a cause at checkout

9. Drive home your least favorite way

Benefits: If you remembered –

Buy a yourself a treat in the store or at checkout (candy, People magazine, )

Habit Changes

These all presume you’ve figured out how to get cloth bags in the right car in the first place. This often takes a bit of thought about who shops when and in which car. You may need magic marker labels on the them to help them back to the right car or spot once you unload your groceries.

Building habits is not for sissies. One theory is that it takes place in phases, starting with an intention and then working through possible actions until behaviors becomes as automatic as brushing your teeth. If you’re interested in recent hints on building habits, check out The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg.

If you have other ways that have helped to build this habit, please share them in a comment below. I’m off to relabel my cloth bags but I can always use more good ideas. Good luck making your own changes!