By Michael Smith (Veshengro)

The Bring You Own (BYO) movement started with the shopping bag and is now being extended to other things as well. However, there are still people that have not grasped the BYOB bit at all. Each and every time that I go to the supermarket and stores there will be a fair number of people going through the checkouts that require – still free – one time use plastic shopping bags. The “still free” applies to most stores and market stalls still and the only chain or stores that I know, in Britain, who charge for bags is Lidl.

Remember to take bags with you to the store

The single-use, for that is what they are, plastic grocery bags are a waste of resources and are not goof for the environment and wildlife. Sea life especially, such as turtles, are adversely affected by plastic grocery bags for they tend to mistake those things for food, for jellyfish in fast.

Many people do have reusable bags by now but more often than not they end up forgotten at home when they go shopping and this not only because they go shopping at the spur of the moment. The bags are folded away after the previous use in some drawer and they, more often than not, simply get forgotten. The old adage of “out of sight, out of mind” plays a great role here. Therefore, maybe, keeping the bags in on e particular bag right by the door might help when going shopping to remember taking them.

I must admit that I take a bag offered at times, such as at greengrocers, in order to put some larger items of produce in which don't fit into the other bags provided. However, I do not accept plastic shoppers anymore, as a rule, and always make sure to have some reusable shoppers in my bag.

In some places you have to be very careful though that you haven't had your purchases packed into a plastic bag or two before you can refuse.

People consume billions of plastic bags each year and this excess layer of packaging costs energy and money to produce, and bags are bound to end up in a landfill, if not as litter, sooner or later. Often you see trees festooned with strips of carrier bags and this really does not very good. Tinsel and such may be fine on a Christmas tree but not on hedgerows and trees in the countryside.

Have an ample supply of reusable bags. You may already own at least a handful of reusable canvas or heavier plastic bags. If not, try sewing some and a very good source of inspiration here, in my view, is I am lucky as I get a lot of reusable bags at the various trade fairs and other events that I attend as a writer. In fact I probably now have enough to last me a lifetime and then some. I guess I could even sell some. Regardless of where you get your bags, choose a size that is comfortable and a design that is sturdy and pleasing. Have at least enough for a full load of groceries.

Write at the top of your shopping list "take bags". If you use the same notepad every time, write it on the new page as soon as you empty the last batch of bags.

There are many reusable shopping bags that you can buy that fold away into a small space, such as Onya Bags, Envirosax, ChicoBags, and others, and some even have a carabiner hook attached with which they can be clipped to a belt loop or such like.

Make it automatic. Make taking in bags a regular part of your shopping routine. Habits take a few weeks to ingrain but persevere and soon it will become second nature to take a bag whenever you leave to shop.

I have some of my cotton bags folded and rolled up and held with Velcro straps, and also some others, in such a way that they are ready to grab and shove into a pocket even.

Tell the kids that it's important to take their own bags. If you have kids and you take them shopping, explain why you want to take back bags, and put them in charge of helping you remember to take them in and of helping you to remember them.

Some stores refund a few cents per bag. Offer to pay this amount to your kids if they remind you to take in the bags before you remember. They won't need to be asked twice and you won't be forgetting your bags.

© 2011