Good Stuff

10 Ways to Remember Your Reusable Shopping Bags


I’m so proud of Prince Edward Island, the place I call home, for being the first province in Canada to ban plastic bags. Seeing most of PEI’s population embrace the idea has been incredibly refreshing and—I have to admit—surprising. A lot more has to be done in order to reduce our use of single-use plastic (although I do feel like some single-use plastics should be kept around, but that’s for another blog post) but it is a really good start.

But even the most well-intentioned among us are taking some time just remembering to bring our reusable bags with us.

I put the question out on social media and got lots of feedback on how other folks are remembering to bring their reusable shopping bags.

Bags that easily fold/collapse/roll are a necessity.

“I have a bag made from parachute material that stuffs into a little pouch that I just keep on me all the time.” —Alexander O’Neill

“I have a bag that folds into a tiny pouch that fits in my purse so I always have one on me.” —Hannah Bell

“I have a little bag that folds up into a tiny square and fits in my purse.” —Kirstin Lund

“I keep a small foldable one in almost each of my purses.” —Afton Mondoux

“I also keep those small folding ones in my purse. I have like six so I’m ready for full grocery trips or a quick one-off stop somewhere.” —Kylea Jackson


Returning them to your car or somewhere visible is key.

“The trick is to immediately put them back in your car when you get home!” —Laura Lindsay

“After I put the groceries away I hang the bags on the front door to remind the next person going out to take them to the car. We also keep a few extra bags in each car just in case we forget bags at home.” —Julia Kilbride

“I keep them in the baby bag! She’s always with us, so it makes sense that her bag is always with us too. I keep the larger ones folded in one of the large pouches on the side. Works like a charm.” —Charlsie Bates

“Keep several in my trunk. After I empty them I put them by the front door so I remember to take them back out.” —Megan Robertson

“They are always in the car. Once brought into the house full, they are emptied, wiped out if required, and then hung on the door handle for the first person out to take back to the car.” —Connie Clark


Make it a part of your routine.

“Our grocery run is so clockwork that we just got exactly enough bags to carry it all so it feels naturally part of the process—like grabbing the car keys.” —Joey Sisco-Tufts

“I walk to my car, realize I don’t have them and have to go back every time.” —Lucas Sencabaugh

“I just always have one with me when I leave the apartment.” —David Ross


Go for bins instead of bags.

“I dump everything back into the cart Costco-style and load them into a plastic carrying box (upcycled tulip box I bought for a buck at Veseys years ago) when I get to the vehicle. If I’m only picking up a few items I just carry them.” —Derek MacEwen

“I have those big green bins, so they’re hard to forget either in the house or in the car.” —Angela Misri

“Superstore online shopping with bins—they replace the old bins every time with the new bins full. Pretty dandy.” —Ryan Steele

lot of people said they have continuously purchased new reusable bags at the store because they kept forgetting their bags at home. We’ll get there, folks!

Here are a few more tips for remembering your reusable shopping bags:

  • If your shopping trips are on the same day each week, set a repeating reminder on your phone for the morning of or even the night before. For our Monday evening shopping trips, I had my reminder set for 7am every Monday morning. It did the trick! (We have since switched to using green bins.)
  • Pick out really cute tote bags so you’ll be more likely to want to use them. Alternatively, pick out a bag in a vibrant neon color so you’ll notice it hanging up and remember to bring it with you. If you’re the crafty type, customize a fabric bag or make one from scratch. Putting time and effort into a bag will definitely make it more special and memorable to you.
  • If you don’t keep your reusable bags in your vehicle or in a purse, make sure to hang it somewhere near the door where you’ll be more likely to see it. Don’t store them in a closet you don’t use every day, or else they’ll be forgotten.
  • Include “bring grocery bags!” as the top item on your grocery list.
  • Gamify the habit of bringing your bags with you. (Check out my blog post on Habitica over here. It’s got a good habit-building function included.)
  • Keep your car keys in your reusable bag. This way when you remember where you put the keys, you’ll also remember your bag!

Learn more about the plastic bag ban on:

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Jillianne Hamilton is the author of Molly Miranda: Thief for Hire, its two action/comedy sequels, and The Lazy Historian's Guide to the Wives of Henry VIII. She is also a graphic designer, a history enthusiast, and a dog mom. Learn more.


  1. Tilly
    July 14, 2019 at 3:48 pm

    It’s interesting to read this as we Brits have been doing this for a while and most people have got used to it – it just takes time to form new habits.

    As to straws, you can get ones made out of better materials FYI.

    • Jilly
      July 20, 2019 at 1:54 am

      Many people in the disabled community have spoken out about straws made from alternative materials. So far, none seem to suit their needs. For this reason, I’m opposed to getting rid of plastic straws entirely.

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