Bring Your Own Reusable Bags


Starting March 31st in Cambridge, the acronym BYOB has a new meaning: bring your own bag! The city is issuing an ordinance for all stores, such as grocery and convenience stores, pharmacies, restaurants, liquor stores, and other retailers, to provide new options for customers to carry their goods. This ban on plastic bags has been put into place to cut down on waste and protect marine life in the area.

No More Plastic

Photo from CambridgeMA.gov

Photo from CambridgeMA.gov

To get specific, a plastic bag with a handle is prohibited under this ordinance, meaning stores cannot provide a customer with one. Instead, retailers now must charge their customers $0.10 for each and ever re-usable, compostable and paper bag. This charge has to be listed in the receipt as well, so when you see “checkout bag charge,” you’ll understand where that fee has come from.

Getting Creative with Reusable Bags

Now that there’s a monetary incentive for shoppers to bring their own bags, you can get creative with how you choose to tote your purchases home. The simplest answer to this ordinance is to bring those paper bags we all have filling up our kitchen drawers back to the store to be used again; a paper bag is sturdy enough to withstand a few trips to the local supermarket and bag, and this will save you the cost of having to buy re-usable bags.

However, if you do want to express yourself through the art of crafting, there are plenty of ways to adapt this ordinance to show of your artistic abilities. For example, this tutorial shows you how to make a sturdy, fabric grocery bag, for anyone who wants to warm up their sewing machine. If you want to create out of a different material, or want more variety in your bag options, here is a great list of types of bags and instructions on how to make them.

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Way to Remember!

If you’re the type of person who is always forgetting that one thing on their shopping list, then this new ordinance might seem like a daunting new task. However, it isn’t too difficult to incorporate into your life, if you make some small changes to your shopping routine.

Firstly, if you keep your re-usable bags stuffed under your sink or somewhere out of reach, take them out and keep them in a more prominent location; for example, you could keep a bag of bags in the trunk of your car, or by the front door, so you’re more likely to see them when you’re off to run errands.

Another great way to keep yourself committed to this eco-friendly change is have someone else keep the idea fresh in your mind. Ask a roommate, family member or friend to remind you to take a re-usable bag, or vice versa; that way, you’ll both be helping each other by saving money and reducing waste!

Finally, if you really want something to feel important and meaningful, try out the simplest method you can find on how to make a bag yourself. You’d be more likely to remember the first few times you showed off your eco-friendly craft in the grocery store, and once you get into the habit, this little lifestyle change will feel as natural as ever.

Sarah Terhune, Intern