Wednesday, May 18, 2011

My "Horrible" Grocery Bags

Several weeks ago now my husband and I watched a program on PBS called "Bag It."  It was basically a documentary about the use of plastic shopping bags and in one part they demonstrated the devastating affects that plastic bags (and plastics, in general) have on the environment.  If you're interested in the movie you can visit the web site and watch the trailer here:

After watching the show, I really felt ashamed that I STILL haven't gotten on the re-usable bag band wagon.  We DO recycle all the plastic bags we use by returning them to the store, but I know that's not enough.  And sometimes I have to admit that it has crossed my mind (more than once) that there is a distinct possibility those bags are not actually getting recycled.  I mean, what guarantee do we have regarding where those bags are ending up?

The better solution would be to just use less of these bags to begin with.  So, I finally decided to change that.  And because I like to sew, I decided I would make our re-usable bags myself.  I also decided that I would do my best to make these bags without purchasing any new fabric to do it.  That would mean digging through my large fabric stash and putting some of it to use -- especially some of the not-so-pretty, outdated fabrics that I know, truthfully, I am probably never going to use in a future quilt.

The first thing I did was go online to look for some kind of pattern or idea on how to best construct the bags.  I found what appeared to be a great tutorial on making your own re-usable grocery bags.  I printed the directions and got to work soon after.  I say it "appeared" to be a great tutorial because once I started trying to follow the directions, I found several flaws with it.  Because of my sewing experience I was able to work through it and still complete the first bag, though a lot of swearing ensued during the process and I swore once I finished the first one, there wasn't going to be a second!  So, consider yourself warned if you decide you want to give these bags a try.  There are just some very basic steps missing and a couple of the descriptions of what to do are not totally clear.  Maybe one day, if I find time, I'll try and write my own bag-making procedure in a future post.  The tutorial isn't terrible, but it would be very difficult for someone with very little sewing experience to follow correctly.

These are some of the bags I have made so far:

 Now to prove to you that these bags are the same size as a typical plastic grocery bag, take a look at this:

And, actually, you may have noticed that my bags are a little larger than the plastic bag.

So, you may be wondering why the title of this post is My "Horrible" Grocery Bags.  My husband typically does our weekly grocery shopping.  Last weekend the cashier who checked him out was (and typically is, from what he tells me) very rude to him.  When he handed over the cloth bags, the cashier began scrutinizing one of them.  She looked at him and asked, "Did you make this?"  To which he replied, "No.  My wife did."  Her next response?  "Well, these bags are HORRIBLE.  You can't even fit anything in them."  Now, she said this before having even tried to put anything in them.  My husband pointed this out by saying, "You haven't put anything in them yet."  In a huff, she began bagging the items.  All the while complaining about reusable bags and what a bad idea they are and how the person who invented them (reusable bags, that is) should have to come down to the store and try to fill them with groceries and see how HE likes it.  Ya, that's what she said.

So, here's just how roomy my "horrible" bags are:

And here are all the items that are inside that bag:

 Now it's true all of that stuff would also fit inside the plastic bag:

BUT, would YOU want to carry that bag out to your car?  Probably not.  I think we all know there is a very good chance that bag would stretch and probably rip.

All I can say is, it's a good thing I made such horrible bags for my family.  I think we'll just going to go right on using them!  No matter what other people think of them.


  1. I think they are great... and beautiful! And that cashier is a very "silly" person.

  2. The last time Brandon went shopping, he said that the cashier he had really liked the bags and was complementing how nice they were. So, I suppose it's all just a matter of opinion.