Tame Your Reusable Bag Disorganization

Here is an organizational system that helps you manage the use of your reusable shopping bags in a way that ultimately conserves your mental and physical energy. When implementing any new organizational system, it is important to remember that it takes a small initial investment of mental energy to change your patterns and follow the system. However, once you’ve got it down and the system becomes mindless (and it will) you will experience greater ease every time you need to use your reusable bags, for the rest of time.

First of all:

1. Make sure you do not have too many bags. Fifteen to 18 bags is a good number for how I like to work my system. Donate the extra bags that you never use. And…

2. Don’t waste your time with small bags; they are not as versatile as a standard size.

Now for implementing the system:

3. Make 2 or 3 different “bag kits” that are ready-to-grab. To do this, put four or 5 shopping bags into 1 shopping bag. Make sure that each kit contains the number of bags that you usually use (my sweet number is 6). It is unnecessary to lug all of the bags you own around with you when you only use a fraction of them every time.

For maximum ease you can even have different colour bags for each kit to make it perfectly simple to keep them together – for example, red bags for the first kit, blue bags for the second kit and black bags for the last kit. I have never gone to this level of organization, simply because we usually acquire reusable bags over time from different places, so they never match.

4. I recommend that you store one kit in each vehicle and one kit in the entryway of your home (to exemplify, the red kit goes in the red car, the blue kit goes in the blue car and the black kit stays in the entryway). These three different locations are the permanent storage homes for these bag kits when they are not in use. Storing a kit in each of these locations ensures that you will have bags ready to meet a variety of different needs, exactly when and where you need them.

Remember, after you unpack the grocery contents of your bags you will need to return all bags to their proper kit and put the kit back to its designated storage home. Obviously you don’t need to run the car kits back out at that exact moment, but just hang it on the front door handle so that the next person who goes out to that car is intuitively reminded to return it to its home.

5. For the entryway kit, store it on an “S” hook on your closet pole or on an entryway-hook.

6. If you don’t use a car or cars, (aside – well done!) store a kit at each entry way of your home.

7. Customize this system to suit your particular ways. Maybe you should keep a kit in your bike basket, child’s stroller or wagon. If you consistently use a piece of equipment when you use your bags, store a kit there.


Reasons I like this system:

When at your shopping location, quickly grab your bags as you head into the store. Even if you forget to grab the bags initially, it is better to have forgotten the shopping bags in the car (where you can get them) as opposed to having forgot the bags back at home (where you won’t go get them).

Reusable bags stored in the home often look unsightly. A small bag kit in the entryway closet can be easily tucked out of view.

Reusable bags stored in the home take-up useful space – the storage space available in cars is underutilized real estate.

You don’t have to bend over and rummage for bags at floor level.

Using an “S” hook on the closet pole is a ‘one-step, one-hand’ hanging process compared to the traditional ‘three-step/two-hand’ hanging process required with a jacket hanger (by three steps I mean… 1. Lift the hanger, 2. Hang the kit around the neck of the hanger and 3. Hang-up the hanger).

If you are a two car family with two adults that both do grocery shopping and errand running, there will always be bags ready for everyone.

A mainstay behind organization is that “there is a place for everything” and that “everything is in its place.” My system leverages this motto by multiplying the storage places with a multiple kit system. If you take the time to train yourself and your family members to use this system, the short term investment of time and mental energy needed to make it a mindless habit will pay you back with greater ease for the rest of your grocery-shopping, errand running, bag-using life.

Photo Credit: OctopusHat