And now it's Me vs. the Squirrels
Everything I did wrong today, in list form

Fun Fact: Phillip neatly flattens and folds our plastic bags into quarters and stores them in a drawer. I will actually miss that.

As of July 1, plastic shopping bags are banned in Seattle. Banned! OH SEATTLE. 

In theory I think this is an excellent idea. I am Pro Environment. I am a Proud Supporter Of Our Earth. I am Team Recycle. Plastic shopping bags are terrible horrible things, especially for our Precious Marine Habitat which, I hear, is the main reason we are banning the shopping bags. (?)


I own, like, four thousand reusable bags. I have them from absolutely everywhere. I've even bought a few on purpose. The other day at the library I bought THEIR reusable bag because I just didn't feel like stuffing 10 picture books into my diaper bag. 

But once I own the bag it never leaves my house again. Oh, sometimes I pack them with the kids' overnight things for a stay at Grandma and Grandpa's. Or I use them to tote dinner to a friend's house or to haul some baby clothes or whatever. I have never ever brought one of my reusable shopping bags to a store. EVERRRRR!

So this is bad, Internet. How am I going to get my groceries home NOW? Wait wait wait - how am I going to carry home my weekly $100 worth of Target junk? THEY AREN'T GOING TO HAVE PLASTIC BAGS AT TARGET!!!

Okay, don't pester me about the DETAILS of the ban. Like PAPER bags are allowed. And those little plastic bags they have in the produce section are allowed. And I guess there are exceptions and qualifications and all sorts of confusing things that don't really affect the fact that Target is no longer going to have BAGS. 

I'm thinking that I'm going to have to store my bags in the car. Right? This makes sense. HOWEVER. Once I carry all the bags inside and unload the groceries, I will then have to put the bags BACK in the car. And the chances of me doing THAT are, well, NOT VERY HIGH. I am already SO bad at this sort of thing, Internet. I can put off menial Taking Care Of Life tasks until the rapture comes. My library books are ALWAYS overdue. I make important phone calls at the absolute last minute. I still have a handful of thank you notes from Jack's birthday sitting on the counter, because I can't be bothered to buy stamps. 

Up to this point, the only people affected by my Extreme Laziness were, well, myself, and the library I suppose (they are many dollars richer) and also my aunts who haven't received their thank you notes and are rueing the day they ever bought their great-nephew a shirts-and-shorts set. But now my children are going to starve because I won't be able to bring the groceries home. 

It's really just one more annoying way thing to remember or, rather, another thing to forget and race back into the house to find, cursing and stomping the whole time. Like I don't already forget everything ELSE. Why is my city trying to make my life harder? WHO CARES ABOUT THE MARINE HABITAT?!

Sometimes, I think, THIS is why I live in Seattle. I am not naturally green. I do not particularly enjoy nature. I was SO not the girl planning to be a marine biologist when she grew up. I am not overly concerned about emissions and waste and local and organic. But I live in a city where those things are pretty much a religion and because of that I am horrified when I visit out of state or even hour-away friends who do not recycle plastic bottles. And then my heart starts to hurt because OMG THEY JUST THROW THEM IN THE GARBAGE?!?! SERIOUSLY?!?!?

Okay, that's not REALLY why I live in Seattle. But I think it's a reason why I like it here. It's good for me. I sometimes feel that way about being Catholic. I think I'd make a super non-denominational church goer, but even though I don't feel passionately about liturgy, I want to be around it. It's good for me to be in it, to be with people who value it. 

So dearest Seattle... I love you. I don't want to go camping with you. I don't want to go to the REI garage sale. I don't want to hike or ski or snowshoe. I buy the cheapest gallon of milk. Sometimes I get really mad at bicyclists. I don't see how you can afford to shop at Whole Foods. I can't tell the difference between Peet's and Zoka's. I will never EVER keep chickens in my yard and I will ALWAYS vote for whoever is running against Jim McDermott. But you are good for me. You stretch me and challenge me and keep me honest. I will never leave you. Even if I forget my reusable shopping bags every single time I shop. 

Love, Maggie



I failed at the reusable bag thing too - ALWAYS forgot to put them back in the car. And when I did actually remember to bring them, then I would always fail to bring enough of them.

But like any habit, you'll get the hang of it pretty quick. It's amazing how fast new routines develop when they have to :)


It is definitely a routine thing. I pack mine up and set them in front of the door when I know I am going shopping. Maybe putting them together and getting them to the car could be a Jack or Mollie project?


Okay, this is what we do - it's incremental. First, since you have so many bags, just throw a ton of them in your trunk right now. That way, even if you forget to bring some specifically for that trip, there are spares in the trunk.

When I'm done unloading groceries, I hang the bags on the garage door handle so you can't open the door without taking all the bags off and walking them out there. From there, since you're already standing in the garage with bags in your hand, throw them in the car or wherever you keep them.

The other thing that we do is, if they're not in the car, we hang the bags on a hook on the wall that is right in front of the driver's seat of the car, so it's the last thing you see before you leave.

I give all this advice, with the caveat that I still forget the bags about once a month. Oh well.


I'm like Christy. We hang the bags on a hook just inside the door from the garage to our kitchen/dining area. That door is right in front of the car and the bags nearly brush your should when you walk into the garage. In theory, this is a good system. I still sometimes forget bags, but it's not as much as before the hook.


The town I shop in just banned them too. I use my reusable bags about 50% of the time, sometimes I forget and leave them in the car (really bad). Good luck!


I live in Wales and since last Autumn they've put a statutory charge of 5p per bag in place to encourage use of reuseable bags. It's greatly reduced the use of plastic bags which has to be a good thing.
I use Envirosax - they're reuseable and store in a little pouch - like others have suggested I keep the bags in the car and leave them hanging on the door to the garage until I next go out. It does mean a new routine, but you'll get there once you work out how it will work for you - I think getting J or M involved too is a great idea!


Could it be Jack's super-special-helper job to put the bags in the backseat after groceries are unloaded?


You never fail to make me laugh. I own tons of reusable bags too. They are stacked up in my laundry room. The room that I have to pass through to get to my car. And yet, I still forget. When I go to Trader Joe's without my bags, I end up buying a new one because I feel guilty not bringing my own. Guess how many Trader Joe's bags I own?


I suck at using reusable bags as well, and one month I instituted a self-rule where I had to either a) bring and use my own, b) purchase a new reusable bag, or c) carry all my purchases out by hand. It worked surprisingly well, and I continued to be responsible for about one month after the rule expired (these monthly self-rules are a Thing I do, I guess), but now I am back to being a terrible person. I totally understand about living somewhere that forces you to be better - but on the other side of WA, no one gives a flip. We JUST got a recycling program here. It's INSANE.


I am so with you on the Seattle stuff. I love that they make it easy, because I would not recycle on my own. Still, when I visited Virginia and everything went in one bin, I died a little inside. Where was the compost bin? And the recycling?

As far as reusable bags go, I was with you on never remembering them (even if they were in my trunk) until I went to IKEA and got a bunch of their great bags. They fold up teeny tiny and velcro shut and take up no space at all in my purse, but still have huge handles and are great for carrying stuff. And I grocery shop on foot, so I have to carry things up the hill to my house or further, depending on the store and these are the best bags ever. They're like a dollar each.


I'm so with Carrie on the fold up teeny tiny. BUT, I always mean to walk the bags back out to the car after unloading groceries, but I have a toddler. Hello, distractions. So, I usually stick them on top of my purse... Next time I am headed out, they are automatically with me, and get stashed in the car, ready for the next grocery trip. Now, if I could only remember to actually bring them INTO the store with me!


I think this is a good idea in practice, but I am not so sure it would actually keep me from using any less bags than I am already using. I mean, I would have to start BUYING plastic bags to make up for the ones that I reuse for things like garbage and emptying the vacuum cleaner and such.


I keep my reusable in my trunk, and it's rare that I forget them at the grocery store. (I guess I really should bring them into Target and CVS, but I haven't gotten that far yet.)

Here's my thing about the plastic bags: I USE those babies. Maybe it's just because I have a dog, but pretty much every time we go hang out in the back yard, I grab two of them from the shed and use them to pick up dog poop. If I couldn't get my hands on some plastic bags, I'd have to BUY bags for this purpose, which would just annoy me. (Though I guess I could use the still-allowed produce bags. Perhaps I'd start putting each individual apple in its own bag just to stock up.) I also use them to bag up stinky disposable diapers (we mostly use cloth, so we don't have a Diaper Genie or anything).

I'm all for minimizing their use, but sometimes a girl just NEEDS a bag that's disposable.


I actually prefer reusable bags - they hold way more and never break and drop my groceries all over the floor (I'm talking to YOU, cheap grocery store plastic bags!). But I still think it's wrong to flat out outlaw them. Also, it cracks me up how like 15 years ago everyone was all"paper bags are bad! Use plastic!" and now we're back to paper again. And, I totally use my plastic bags for a million things too. Thanks for reminding me why I'm glad I live outside of Seattle! LOL. :)


I own four reusable bags, and they have never left the car. I try to remember them, but I do weekly grocery runs with what seems like a gazillion bags. How would I get all those bags INTO the store?! Then they would take up valuable cart-space until checkout?

Maybe skip bags altogether and invest in some storage bins that would stay in the car, then tote full bins into house? Like a Sam's club stuffing stuff in the packing boxes idea? I dunno! I would freak if they did that here. I use those plastic bags to empty the little trash cans upstairs!

Good luck!


I never know how the bag to groceries ratio works. Partly because I rarely shop with a list and don't know if I'm going to buy for one day or the week. (Horrible habit, I drive myself nuts). I also use the plastic bags to package and dispose of the gifts my cat leaves me. Although I usually get paper at the grocery since the drug stores are always plastic.

I live in an area that has just now reinstated curb-side recycling after a 7 year break so I am not an expert on such things :) I'm very happy to make myself get back in the habit!

Ellen W

I keep a stack of bags in the back of my car and have my boys remind me that I need to bring them into the grocery store. When I unload the groceries I put the bags on my stovetop so I know I will have to deal with them that day. I like reusable bags but still like having a few plastic bags around for emptying the litter box and storing wet clothes if my 3 yr old has an accident while we are out and about.


I can't stop laughing about the "I will never have chickens" comment. Hilarious! (and this is coming from someone who actually did have chickens for two midly insane years-- what was I thinking? drink the water much?)


why don't you just drive out of the city to shop?

The Sojourner

I do the bulk of my grocery shopping at Aldi, which is this lovely store that is small and logically organized and super-cheap. It's my favoritest store ever. (It was originally a German store. Maybe my German blood feels at home there.)

Anyway, as part of cost-savings: 1) The carts are chained together and you have to use a quarter to release the chain device. Then when you put the cart back you get your quarter back. I keep a quarter in my cupholder for just this purpose, but I always have to re-un-lock my car after I've gotten out so I can retrieve the blasted quarter. 2) They charge like 20 cents for bags. So I bring my own bags...when I remember. There was this one time when I forgot completely and just put the groceries loose in the trunk and then when I went to Meijer to get 4 things I bagged each thing individually (which kind of made sense because I was getting raw meat and dry beans and dishwasher soap and some other thing that should not be bagged with any of the other things) so that I had a place to stuff the rolling-around groceries.

Grocery shopping is hard work, is what I'm saying.

Lisa Blah Blah

Adding to the chorus of people who have mentioned leaving the bags on the door handle once you've unpacked them so they go into the car. The trick, though, when you're first doing this, is not to put the empty bags in the trunk or other rear cargo area of the car. If you do that you may get inside the store and realize your bags are still in the car and you have a cart full of groceries and the kids are antsy and wailing for their lunch and you end up buying more reusable bags and being furious. The trick is either to put the bags next to you, on the front passenger seat, or even jam them in between the car seats in the back if the kids are with you, so as you're getting the kids out you see the bags and remember you're supposed to take them with you. Eventually it becomes such a habit that you can start leaving them in the trunk, because you will realize you need the bags before you enter the store.

Sorry for the long (and late) comment, but I'm long-winded like that and any way, I always like (giving and getting) very practical advice.

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