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Sort of like legal shoplifting: How to use refillable shopping bags

Updated: Feb 11, 2019


I was talking to a coworker about the experience of filling a reusable bulk bag at the local grocery store, and she said it felt awkward; almost like she was stealing. If you've already gone reusable then, please, please, please share your stories about your first few times in the comments! You have no idea how encouraging your antidotes are to the rest of us.

The recurring theme I hear about from most plastic-free beginners is that they feel uncomfortable or like they're doing something wrong, and to be honest, I get it! You're in a supermarket picking out veggies the way you have for decades, the same way your parents did when you were growing up, and now after all this time, you've decided to not follow the same system you've used your entire life.

I mean, it's so simple, right? You just open the bag and toss in some peppers and move on to the next display. You look around for that roll of thin bags, tear off the first one because its been shredded by the shopper before you, finally identify a plastic bag that isn't ripped, unroll it and three others on accident, rewind the unneeded bag, but let's face it, no one is going to take the bag that's been re-rolled, because obviously, a stranger touched it. Now we're four bags in and we haven't even picked out our head of romaine.

I realize this example seems extreme, but until you look at your plastic usage critically, it is way too easy to diminish how significant our grocery shopping footprint is. A couple small bags a week doesn't sound like much of an impact, right? It's the same mentality of "Oh it's only a dollar". If I had that dollar back for everything I've bought just because it was only a dollar, I could probably pay off my mortgage! I've had the same thought about our plastic use, "Oh it's just one bag".

Well one bag turns into two bags and two bags into three and so on and so on, and eventually it turns into a huge problem like we are seeing today. So how do we change this mentality that has been ingrained in us for so long? I think its starting habits you can get excited about.

By the way, whether it's our reusable shopping bags or one of the many other sustainable products available on the out there, JUST GET STARTED! Let's face it, it's going to be strange maybe even intimidating, but then I remember I am actively doing something to make this planet cleaner just by going reusable.

Of course, I think my ONEBag is the best reusable bag (but I may be biased lol). When I looked around the plastic-free / zero-waste community I found many great functional options, but they lacked something... They were bland. They were forgettable! Literally, I would leave them at home every time which happens to be one of the biggest complaints from most reusable bag owners. Then I thought about my reusable coffee mug, and how cute it is and how I love using it because it's expressive and responsible. It's fun!

So I made ONEBag to be trendy, stylish, and ALWAYS cute. When I went shopping for the first time with my reusable produce bags I had three different people stop and ask me where I got them and wanting their own. The cashier asked if I had business card, and I laughed, because now, reusable was a chore I had to remember to do; it was rewarding. It felt great to be complemented for doing something good for the environment!


Let's get to the question of how do you use reusable bags at the grocery store. It's not as complicated as you might think. Each of our ONEBags comes with a tag that has the tare weight of the bag. The tare weight is the actual weight of the bag, we weigh each and every one of our bags on a kitchen scale. There are a couple different ways you could use your ONEBag.

At grocery stores like Wegmans here in the Northeast, where they have scales in the produce section for you to print your own stickers, you could either weigh the produce and then put it in the bag or you could tell the cashier at the checkout line what the tare weight is and they could subtract that right at the register.

For produce like lettuce, cucumbers, or celery that are by quantity it doesn't matter if the bag is on the scale or not. Other grocery stores that do not have scales in the produce section you simply tell your cashier the tare weight and they can take care of it!


I've had people ask me how many bags they need and if they need one bag per different produce. That answer varies person to person, it all depends on how many fresh fruits and veggies you buy at a time. I will say that this style of shopping is going to be different (and MUCH less wasteful) than what you've experienced in the past. instead of having each item in its own bag, items will touch each other which is actually fine when you think about it. It also means instead of buying a large bag of potatoes that will rot in the cupboard, you may only pick out the 4 you need for a meal that week.

Now we are a family of seven, our children love fresh fruits and yes even veggies. They are often snacking on fresh green beans throughout the produce section or trying to steal the peppers as I cut them up for dinner. So we usually buy a lot at a time. Our large ONEBag can hold quite a few different produce at a time so instead of separating all my different produce choices, I'll just pair things down to how they will be used.

For instance, I usually stick a head of lettuce, a couple cucumbers, and some bell peppers and a stalk of celery in one now I have a salad in a bag (Which ends up being way cheaper than the prepackaged salads!

Our smaller ONEBag is great for loose items such as green beans, tomatoes, brussel sprouts, or if you're buying just a few lemons or limes. Now you might be thinking "How much extra time is this going to take up?", I get it, our lives are busy with work, kids, and a million other thing we have going on in. Our time is priceless, we're often tired, in a hurry, and hungry! In fact, isn't that they exact reason all this plastic was invented? It's convenient to throw your items in a plastic bag and you're on your way, and just like that, one more plastic bag ends up in a landfill, ocean, or an animal's stomach.

So how do you get past the awkward 'shoplifting' feeling? By finding plastic replacements you can be proud to carry with you and that motivate a better, more sustainable lifestyle, and by realizing how many others want to do the same but haven't tried!


Thank you so much for reading. You guys are lovely and if this has been helpful please comment below to encourage me! Oh and post share make us feel special so share away!


(Now for the shameless social plug):

We are on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @ONEBag4Produce sharing tips and advice and how to's about our products and those that others have created that we love to use and are helping us. If you found this article useful please encourage us by sharing, liking, commenting and of course sharing your success tips with us. Thanks and let's talk again soon! -Kelly and Chris

#ONEBag4Produce #ONEThing #Sustainability #reusable #reusableproducebag #plasticfree #plasticfreeliving #zerowaste #conservation #reusablegrocerybags #gettingstarted #ecofriendly #ecofriendlysolution #greenliving

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