Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Imitation Brown Paper Bag

No one will know you’re saving paper
 
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Most grocery stores in my area give a 5¢ credit for every brown paper bag (the kind with handles) that you bring and reuse for your purchase. I like the system because I save a small amount of money and a lot of paper. The only problem is that a paper bag is only good for about 30 uses, after which it develops holes in the corners, the handles start detaching, and it becomes dangerous.

I’m sure that I could bring in a canvas tote bag, or even my backpack and ask the bag boy to put my groceries in there, but I’m a little embarrassed at the prospect of doing something so wildly unconventional. (Yes, I know they do it in most of the world, but I’m an American, damn it.) I envision weeks of having to explain to the cashiers and bag boys what I want with this strange bag, and thereafter being known as “the bag guy.”

What I would like are some laminated paper bags with reinforced corners and extra-strong handles. Other than being slightly glossy, they would look exactly like regular paper bags, but last much longer. (They would also fold flat easily, which paper bags do, but cloth bags tend not to.)

AO, Jun 09 2003

Bag Tax aka plastax. http://news.bbc.co..../europe/2205419.stm
[my face your, Oct 04 2004]

Caramac http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A633773
An endangered confection lying in the no mans land between chocolate and candy. [my face your, Oct 04 2004]

A whole buncha rucksacks http://images.googl...&btnG=Google+Search
[my face your, Oct 04 2004]

Option #1 http://www.frugalha...omepage/freepat.htm
Uses just two balls [Klaatu, Oct 04 2004]

Option #2 http://www.epa.gov/...e/src/reuse4.htm#22
If you buy your potatoes or oranges in mesh bags. Price? Free. [Klaatu, Oct 04 2004]

[link]






       Many a Grocery store on the Left Coast has canvas bags (usually green on creme background w/green handles & a tastefully small logo) for a nominal fee for customers to re-use. Elsewhere?
thumbwax, Jun 09 2003
  

       I can vouch for the Right Coast as well. I hasten to add that if you're getting 30 uses out of a paper bag, you're well ahead of the game.
phoenix, Jun 09 2003
  

       I’ve seen canvas grocery bags, and some of them look remarkably like paper bags, so they would fit the bill in terms of not drawing attention. But they cost about $7.50, which would run into another barrier that I forgot to mention. I usually buy about 5 to 8 bags-full of food at one time, so a full supply of canvas bags would be quite an investment. I was thinking more of bags that cost less the $1 each.   

       (30 uses is probably an upper limit rather than average. The ones that are wearing out now look like they originated around Christmastime.)
AO, Jun 09 2003
  

       [AO], I truly applaude your desire and effort to create as little waste as possible by using your bags time and again. However, I have a wee comment to make.   

       // I’m an American, damn it //   

       I'm unsure what you mean by this. You make it sound as if you're excusing yourself for something.   

       // thereafter being known as “the bag guy.” //   

       I am that "bag guy."   

       Where I live, the grocery stores (I call them "supermarkets") use nasty, thin polythene bags to hold your purchases. These are straight from the Department of Pishy Design, as well as creating more landfill. So I go with a small rucksack. And I don't give a shit who knows it.   

       // I’m a little embarrassed at the prospect of doing something so wildly unconventional //   

       Woo hoo. Live a little. Going shopping in a tutu is "unconventional." Don't get me started on the "wildly" bit.   

       I'm sorry if I sound like a sanctimonious twat, I don't mean to be. All I'm saying is have the courage of your convictions. Be "the bag guy."   

       You really do have "bag boys" at the checkout?
saker, Jun 10 2003
  

       You might not want to be known as the 'bag guy', but think of those unfortunates who must be resigned to being just one of many 'bag boys'.   

       Reducing waste by reusing bags is a laudable action. Croissant.
-alx, Jun 10 2003
  

       // Reducing waste by reusing bags is a laudable action. //   

       I agree. I would argue, however, that if all that stops you from using a durable bag is vanity, or embarassment or some such (?), that is not so laudable. If you buy so many groceries that necessitates their use, fine. But my point is that they can, to a greater or lesser degree, be avoided.   

       I haven't voted on this yet.
saker, Jun 10 2003
  

       I agree with [saker]; take a rucksack.
silverstormer, Jun 10 2003
  

       I guess I can’t defend my discomfiture at using unconventional shopping bags. However, it exists (for me and other people), which I think is justification enough for my invention. I would hope that my idea be judged on basis of its potential for practicality and effectiveness, rather than the personality flaw that inspired it.   

       There are many products that exist primarily for the purpose of alleviating people’s embarrassment (swimsuits for instance); this would be another one.
AO, Jun 10 2003
  

       <trundles wheeled soapbox from under bed, mounts>   

       Bill Bryson [Link] tells the tale of taking his family to a MacDonald's or similar. After they'd eaten and were leaving, Mr. Bryson noticed a car in the queue for the drive-through which had been there the whole time it'd taken his family to eat their meals. His point was that the guy in the car would rather have waited on something that had the appearance of being "convenient" (the drive-through) than getting off his fat arse and actually just doing it. I think this principle applies to a lot of things in life, and to halfbaking; often our ideas and behaviour seem a long way for a shortcut.   

       [AO], I'm sorry you feel embarassed enough to think a rucksack is "unconventional." It happens to be a convention I have adopted, but I can live with the fact you wouldn't like one.   

       I'm not just deliberately dissing your idea. I'm pointing out that the problem of low durability shopping bags is perhaps not best addressed by producing more bags of a more durable nature. I'm trying to think "less bags," full stop. I was at a landfill site recently; it was rather unpleasant. If we all used fewer bags, that site would be substantially smaller.   

       And I still haven't voted on your idea because, believe it or not, I do see merit in the original posting.   

       < dismounts, trundles wheeled soapbox back under bed>
saker, Jun 10 2003
  

       Yup, and it's steam powered.   

       [AO], forgive my rant, I'm having a bad day. I know you're trying to be environmentally friendly. I'm just being mental.
saker, Jun 10 2003
  

       No prob, saker, I don’t considering it ranting at all, and enjoy the discussion.   

       As I think about it, I realize that the problem I want to address is not that paper bags are not durable enough, and it is not that existing canvas bags and rucksacks are unsuitable. Most people understand that using a new paper bag (or even an old paper bag) is wasteful; and most people are perfectly capable of bringing rucksacks or canvas bags to the store -- and yet, there seems to be some obstacle that prevents people from switching from paper bags to cloth bags. It’s hard to say what that obstacle is because it’s probably different for every person. It seems silly that the switch should be a great leap, but evidence (or at least anecdote) suggests that it is.   

       As a society our behavior usually changes in evolutionary rather than revolutionary* ways. Even as individuals we tend to make gradual changes in our habits. I propose that the more-durable paper bag serve as a transitional form in an evolution from paper to cloth. Something like this:   

       Disposable bag (1 use)
Reusable paper bag (30 uses)
Laminated paper bag (200 uses)
Canvas shopping bag (unlimited use)
Multi-purpose bag or rucksack (unlimited use)
  

       Again, I can’t emphasize enough how illogical it is that people like me (and society) can’t simply jump to the final step, but nobody’s behavior is perfectly reasonable.   

       *forgive me for using that horrible phrase
AO, Jun 10 2003
  

       I'm an intermittent rucksacker [but I can get away with the weirdness because where I live has the highest Oddball Index of any urban UK area north of Brighton]. Mostly because the supermarkets round my way all use the nasty plastic bags which are capable of holding goods for exactly as long as it takes me to walk home and no longer. Which means that I can't reuse them, even if I wanted to. So, thicker bags are a good idea. But so is the "Bag Tax", implemented in Eire and probably pending in Blighty. Make people pay and they'll start reusing bags. Link.   

       Minor yet hugely offtopic point: if supermarkets in the UK are going to persist in introducing people who'll bag your messages for you, they should tell them (a) that they can get more in each bag than two packets of cream crackers and a Caramac and (b) bread does not go underneath potatoes.
my face your, Jun 10 2003
  

       What everybody else said.   

       [AO] I'm with saker here, as you can see, but I'm also with you. I had a hard time deciding how to vote; however, since I believe saker would've given you half a croissant if he could, and I would too, I'll give you a whole one for both of us.
galukalock, Jun 10 2003
  

       [AO], I'm finally giving you a bun. I think it was your theory of bag evolution that swung it. +   

       [mfy] - you still get Caramacs?
saker, Jun 11 2003
  

       What's a Caramac and what exactly is a rucksack?   

       [AO], I just checked your long, proud listing of almost exclusively croissanted ideas, and I am impressed. I made a mental note to take a closer look at those winners in the near future.   

       I would like to give all the bag-reusers and tote-users a nice, warm, fuzzy pat on the back. Thank you for saving our planet!   

       Now, as for the bag laminating idea, I am torn (no pun intended) for many of the reasons already thoroughly explained here. I'm not sure how hard it would be to get the laminated part to decompose, compared with those plastic bags we all hate. My vote on this idea depends on that factor.   

       I also propose that perhaps only partial laminated reinforcement is necessary on these bags: the handles, the bottom, and a few inches up from the bottom on the sides.
XSarenkaX, Jun 11 2003
  

       //What's a Caramac and what exactly is a rucksack?//
Links above. I didn't realise that rucksack was a non US english term.
my face your, Jun 11 2003
  

       Do they still sell Caramac's? I have not seen them in ages and they taste so good! Still not got over the change in packaging. I know foil packaging is wasteful, but....I shall not continue....
silverstormer, Jun 11 2003
  

       //Going shopping in a tutu is "unconventional." Don't get me started on the "wildly" bit.//   

       Went to the new grocery store in town. In a limo. To buy rootbeer. I win.   

       // I should bring a canvas or duct tape sack to the grocery//   

       Why not use the said duct tape to affix your purchases in one large ball? You could roll it out to the car, as long as you don't squash the bread.
-lines-, Jun 12 2003
  

       You'd have to build the ball pretty carefully. Squashables (bread, fruit, yoghurts etc) in the middle surrounded by a protective cage constructed from cereal boxes and washing powder. Then the harder goods like potatoes surrounded by an outer crust consisting of jars and tins (no corners = less rolling resistance). There could be Ball-Taping competetetiveness (head to head) between clerks, with a race to the car park and points deducted for in-transit damage to goods.   

       "Would that be grey or black tape, sir?"
egbert, Jun 12 2003
  

       I like the "scan my canvas bag" thought by [arthur]. If grocery chains cared about the environment, they'd do replace their convenient plastic membership cards with practical and green re-usable canvas bags with their logos on them. Membership will still have its priveleges, but Mother Nature will be among the benefactors.
XSarenkaX, Jun 12 2003
  
      
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