Reusable bags
May 12, 2022 7:48 PM   Subscribe

I live in a state that, in its infinite wisdom, just outlawed the use of plastic and paper bags, including for grocery delivery. I am disabled and have to get my groceries delivered. What can I do with all of these waxed bags that I am now forced to receive and pay extra for every week along with my groceries?

My groceries have been happily delivered in paper bags for years and I reused them a lot before recycling for all kinds of things, especially scrap paper. I have written to my representatives, but I don't hold out hope for a change in the new law. These bags are piling up, and they all admonish me to reuse them at least 150 times! I can't really leave my house because of covid; there's no way I'm going to ever reuse all of these bags 150 times each.

The bags I've seem to be made of some kind of waxed plastic. They do not have a recycle symbol on them and I don't think they're recyclable. Is there someplace I can send them that can use these? Is there some way I can get them back to the store so they can be reused there? I am careful about what I consume/use, and this is really bothering me. I get 4-6 bags a week and after just two weeks of usual deliveries I already feel overwhelmed. I'd love to do something aside from throwing them out, which feels really wrong.
posted by twelve cent archie to Grab Bag (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Who does your grocery delivery, Instacart? I would 100% contact their accessibility people (who are mostly concerned with web accessibility, but still) and spell this problem out for them. In a lot of weekly grocery delivery services (where you order on a regular schedule), you can pay a deposit and receive reusable bags/containers that you put back outside on your delivery day and the service picks them back up and delivers new ones. I get why that's much more technologically complicated for a contractor service like Instacart, but the issue should at least be raised to them!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:03 PM on May 12, 2022 [4 favorites]

Do you have a local Buy Nothing group? I would think somebody would jump at the chance to have those. I’ve definitely seen people trading plastic and paper bags on mine before.
posted by anderjen at 8:15 PM on May 12, 2022

Best answer: If you're in NJ, there are groups that will take donations of FreshDirect bags who would presumably also be happy to accept similar bags from competitors.
posted by praemunire at 8:17 PM on May 12, 2022

I order my groceries and go pick them up. I bring cardboard boxes that I reuse. They let me transfer the groceries from their bags into the box, and then they use those same bags for the next person's order - so I am never charged for the bags (unless I forget the cardboard boxes and end up using the bags) and I don't have to deal with bags piling up. Any chance you could work something like this out with the delivery people?
posted by SageTrail at 8:53 PM on May 12, 2022 [3 favorites]

This is absolutely the store? delivery service? (are they the same company?)'s problem. Call the customer service number and explain your situation. If they won't come get them from you (maybe the drivers aren't allowed to pick up, whatever) ask your local Buy Nothing or similar whether someone could make the trip to the grocer for you. Stores that provide reusables definitely have some way of reusing them in house!
posted by Grim Fridge at 9:01 PM on May 12, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: My local food pantry accepts donations of grocery bags with handles. On thé supply side the local company that I get produce deliveries from uses reusable plastic bins so it might be worth seeing whether there’s another grocery delivery service that would handle this better.
posted by mskyle at 3:10 AM on May 13, 2022 [4 favorites]

I give them to the delivery person. they are not supposed to take them, but so far (8 months) only one refused, and i then just saved them for next time, who took them. (But this is not in US, i live in Austria).
posted by 15L06 at 5:41 AM on May 13, 2022

At some point, the external costs of government regulation are no longer your problem. I appreciate that you want to minimize environmental harm, but you aren't causing this problem, and there is a line where you are putting too much effort into solving a problem not of your making. Only you can decide where that line is, but when you get there, throw the bags in your garbage can and go on with life.
posted by COD at 2:14 PM on May 13, 2022 [1 favorite]

Before you give them away, save them for a few weeks and take a picture, making sure to arrange them in a way to show how much space they take up x lots of weeks.. it will be more effective when emailing representatives or trying to get your point across.

You shouldn't have to spend your own money on this, but can you pay someone to pick up bags from you and then go pickup your groceries from the store? I've heard stores are loading pickup orders right into the customer's cars (or into reusable bags in cars) and not putting them in the reusable bags first.

Lastly, if you're in Hudson County in this infinite wisdom state, memail me and I might buy a few of those bags off you. All of our reusable bags are in atrocious conditions because we've been using them well before the law went into effect. I refuse to buy more because I'm also mindful of not using/wasting more than I need.
posted by at 4:15 PM on May 13, 2022

While it's not a solution for every delivery, you may be able to order groceries some weeks from Costco, everything I've ordered from there has come in used boxes which can them be recycled.
posted by I paid money to offer this... insight? at 5:47 PM on May 18, 2022

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