I walked into Target the other day, shopping bags securely wrapped around my arm. There’s no way I’m forgetting them this time. I guess we got a little too close and comfortable (me and my shopping bags), because it was only when the cashier was nearly finished packing my groceries into a well-planned assortment of paper and plastic, that I realized I hadn’t given her my beloved reusable bags. It’s a no-win situation at this point. Either, I sheepishly ask her to re-bag my stuff, or I walk out of the store with several disposable bags, while my prestigious reusables watch in horror from my arm. What am I to do? I carefully assess the situation. The line is several customers deep, and Cheryl, the “new team member”, is not looking like she’s up for the challenge. My empathy for the service providers of this world, forces me to inconspicuously tuck my precious bags under my arm, and let Cheryl get on with her life. It’s not a complete failure. At least the darn shopping bags made it into the store this time.
Sound like a somewhat familiar struggle? At least, the forgetting-of-the-shopping-bags part of the story? You are probably quite successful at getting them at least to your trunk or back seat. (Sometimes?) Perhaps my situation was a little extreme, but if you’re like most ecologically aware shoppers, you have a vast collection of reusable shopping bags (from various stores) in a wide variety of colors, materials and sizes. Maybe you even have a couple of those convenient insulated zippered bags. But, why is it SO HARD TO REMEMBER TO BRING THE SHOPPING BAGS INTO THE STORE? WHY???
BYOB (Bring Your Own Bag) is a recent phenomenon, as it’s just not something we’ve had to do in all of our years of shopping. In the past, all we needed to remember was our list and our checkbook. Now, our lists are contained within an app on our smart phones, and remind me again what a checkbook is? Our homes and cars aren’t built with special places to store reusable shopping bags, so we have to invent them ourselves. That’s the hard part…actually, that’s just part of the hard part. Finding a logical home for your shopping bags, a place where they finally belong, a place where you can tolerate the clutter of multicolored bags, a place where they stop getting ignored and start getting the attention they deserve, a place where they are remembered, this is tough. Keeping them in their place is the other tough part. It’s all about behavior.
It can take four weeks of consistent effort to actually change a behavior. So, if you’ve stuffed your bags into a drawer and given up on even trying to get them out of the house, give this three-step program a try for four solid weeks, and you’ll be on your way to a successful recovery from shopping bag mania.
The Three Step Program to Remembering Your Shopping Bags
Step 1: Define your location: Try to make this a place that is out in the open and a visual reminder. For example, the front seat floor or middle console of your vehicle would be great, while the backseat or trunk will make it more difficult to remember.
Step 2: Put it on your list: You’re bringing your shopping list anyway. Keep the number one standing item on your list: BRING SHOPPING BAGS. Seeing this every time you add to your list will also help burn it into your brain.
Step 3: Visualize it: This may sound like an extreme exercise for the sake of shopping bags, but when working toward behavior changes, this can be very effective. Visualize yourself carrying the bags into the store. Make your vision as creative as you wish, like carrying 40 shopping bags in each arm. After a while, if you forget them in the car, you’ll feel like you’re missing something.
Give this program a try, and your shopping bags will get the life they deserve. Oh, and one more thing…don’t forget to bring your plastic bags for recycling.