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great tips for neatly storing all my re-usable bags

How To Organize Reusable Bags

Guess what guys – Project Organize Your ENTIRE Life just got a big boost in the form of a brand new MPMK contributor dedicated solely to the project.  I admit, I recruited professional organizer Annie to help me get our upcoming new home in order as much as I did to add to POYEL.  But it’s still a win-win for all of us!

Annie will be here once a month or so sharing her pro organization tips and eventually I’m hoping she’ll help me tackle some spaces at home (which I’ll happily share here of course).  She’s starting off today with some small and practical tips we can all use…

For those of us environmentally minded folks on the west coast of the United States, reusable bags are like the law. But actually, they are the law. With the ban on plastic bags in full effect in some cities, stores now operate as BYOB—that’s: bring your own bag—establishments. It’s not just here, either. People the world over are beginning to wake up to the fact that using reusable bags is a small way they can be kinder to the planet.

The only hitch in all of this is that reusable bags are a bit of a nuisance, organizationally speaking. They aren’t rigid, so they won’t sit or stand where you tell them to, and while they can be hung on hooks, it seems a shame to waste a whole hook (and a whole lot of wall space besides) on some silly flat bags.

Here, then, are some helpful hints on how to tame your reusable bags.

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Gather all your bags and evaluate them against each other. Edit out any that have seen better days, that you never intend to use, or that generally bum you out more than the others.

Once you’ve got your keepers solidified, sort them by size or type. In this case you can see I sorted my client’s bags into three categories:

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1) Small bags – used for children’s lunches

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2) Large bags – used for grocery shopping

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3) Canvas bags

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Smaller bags can just be folded in half, and placed in a drawer, bin, or basket for easy access.  When it comes to larger bags, I recommend folding them into little bundles. By condensing their size, you can more easily keep track of, store, and transport your bags.

Here’s my method for creating tightly furled bundles out of those bags:

12 steps to folding reusablebag

Once your bags are bundled, store them together in a place that’s convenient for you. As with the smaller bags, you can store your large bags in a basket or bin. You can also leave one bag un-unbundled, and use that to house the rest.

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When you need to go shopping, pack a lunchbag, a beachbag, a whateverbag, you’ll know exactly where to look to find the bag you need.

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Whip those bad boys out at check-out like the winning environmentalist that you are and say, in as smug a tone as you can muster, “Oh, no, that’s okay. I brought my own.”

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P.S. Looking for more ways to simplify and connect with your family?


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Annie Traurig is a professional organizer and the founder of Live Simply. She works with clients locally in Seattle, as well as worldwide through virtual services, teaching them to expel the extraneous and instill their lives with lightness, laughter, and ease. She believes complication is avoidable, the clarity of priorities is freeing, aesthetics are paramount, and humor is the ultimate necessity.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Jessica June 15, 2013 at 4:00 am

I just put my baggu bags (only kind I own aside from Ikea which are folded somewhere else) into an ikea plastic bag “dispenser/holder” that is mounted to the inside of a kitchen cabinet door. :)

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Kara June 18, 2013 at 9:47 am

The “rest of the world” never started using disposable bags. Europeans also don’t have the problem of where to store a giant pile of shopping bags because they stop at the store on their way home every day. Small fridges can work for any size family and they use less electricity.

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Moira June 19, 2013 at 11:06 am

That’s a lot of work. I stick all my bags in the biggest bag and put them back in the car. Otherwise they would never actually make it into the store.

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Regan July 11, 2013 at 10:06 pm

Nice. I am so going to do that this weekend. I keep them in my car and even having an SUV they take up a lot of space with the pram and everything else in there. Here in Australia, we’re just getting into reusable bags. Having them all neat and tidy I’ll want to whip them out so everybody can see how organised I am.

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Marcy August 23, 2013 at 3:57 pm

Brilliant folding method! I thank you, and my already crowded car thanks you.

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Katrin October 7, 2013 at 12:45 pm

I love this idea! I am so doing this – Brilliant. Just one question- what about those insulated thicker bags? How do you store those?

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Bible Babe November 6, 2013 at 4:24 pm

Thank you for this tip–I just went and tried it, and now all my bags fit neatly into the biggest one! With room to spare!

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