How I stopped hoarding reusable shopping totes and began reclaiming my closet space!
This is the follow-up article to What is the Best Reusable Shopping Tote?, which actually spurred more questions about reusable shopping totes. While researching the topic I was forced to take a good look at my true needs. I am actively trying to reduce my household clutter [aka reclaim my closet space from my stuff] and only keep those items we really use and pass on those things we don't use. I know there are people out there somewhere that would appreciate many of these perfectly good items.
I want to share with you now how I recently stopped hoarding reusable shopping totes and reclaimed my closet space! Thank you to the person who asked me about reusable totes. I was curious to know which one was best and now I can honestly say, I know which is best for me and it doesn't involve the dozens of bags that have piled up over the years. Why do I have so many??!!
In my previous article What is the Best Reusable Shopping Tote?, I compiled information I thought was important in the decision of choosing the best reusable shopping tote. If you didn't read the article, here is the link. In that article I promised to write a follow-up after I figured it out for myself.
What I learned from writing that article is that I had never taken the time to determine my expectation for the totes I used and what application it was needed, I just kept “collecting” bags.
I really only need three or four bags yet I own two dozen or so. I received one after giving a donation, two were gift bags, several from promotional giveaways and a few as actual gifts. Reusable totes seem to be the new business card in many areas now. A couple years ago I agreed to would stop taking the “free” totes at local events and festivals. I knew I needed to stop “hoarding” totes but now I need to stop and figure out how many I really use and why.
My list of bags...
1. Grocery store/Party goods:
I use my favorite basket. This basket works exceptionally well because it allows me to place items horizontal instead of staking everything on top of each other. I get sooooo many compliments on the cute, functional bag. This has been my favorite bag for years! 1
One large cold bag.2 Most of the items we purchase here are refrigerated and frozen items. This bag works great. I set it up in the hatchback of my Prius, throw few ice packs in, and off to Costco we go. At the store, we roll out our entire purchase in the cart then load it into the bag. Super easy. No extra boxes to bring home to compost or recycle.
3. Co-op purchases: One large cold bag. We are regular co-op shoppers in my household and know that each pickup can be very different. Some weeks we get everything we ordered, others weeks not so much; so we tend to always take a large bag. Currently that is a beat up heavy duty beach bag with handles and a zip top. We have been using this bag for over 10 years! It is fraying and recently popped a hole so it is one I released from my ownership in exchange for using the large cold bag listed above. I mention this beach bag as a memory jogger for you. Maybe you have a great sturdy beach bag that will work great! Pull it out and use it regularly, not just for surf and sand. 3
4. Clothes/Hardware/All Other Stores: I always like to take a reusable tote in a store with me “just in case”. I have a handy, cute and colorful bag that folds up real small and fits in the back compartment of my driver’s seat in my car. It is easily accessible for me in that location and so colorful that I can not miss it. It had a couple zip pouches on the outside of the bag, giving me places for smaller or more delicate items.
5. Produce Bags:I prefer not to take extra plastic bags when buying grocery items. I have an old microfiber lettuce bag 4 that I use for loose product buying. I leave it in my car and have used it for bread loaves, fruits, veggies and small cans like tomato paste.
6. Travel Bag: I like to take a small cotton tote bag with me in my luggage. I received it from American Express for Small Business Saturday when I had a brick & mortar store. The size is perfect, not too big; not too small. I have used it on trips for shopping, dirty clothes bag, impromptu pool bag and shoe storage.
I only need 6 bags!? Yaaaaaaay!?? I guess it's better than the scads that have gathered over the years. The result is now I can accurately see what my needs are in order to avoid taking plastic bags from the store.
Prior to writing this article, I donated several bags but now I see I have more donating to do which freed up one shelf in our entryway closet. With the additional donations I will be making, I reclaim two MORE shelves that have been filled with shopping totes for way too many years.
Thank you to the person who asked me about reusable totes. I was curious to know which one was best and now I can honestly say, I know which is best for me.
Do the same for yourself, you DESERVE that closet space back!
If you have or had a shopping tote hoarding problem like me, then I hope this articles helps shed some light on how we can keep what we really need to use and reclaim closet space back! If you don’t have a tote problem, I hope one of the bags mentioned above is helpful for you.
Well, I shared my personal needs for reusable totes. What are yours?
I would love for you to share your comments here. #sharingiscaring
Top 3 Most Neglected Home Cleaning
You might think keeping a clean home of important. I bet you have clean countertops (clutter not included) and you don’t leave the house wearing soiled clothes. But what about those ceiling fans? Do you wipe those down every month? How about once a year?
Many places on our home take care of us on a daily, some on an hourly basis. They deserve our love and attention. Let me share with you the Top 3 most neglected home cleaning places in most homes.
I got some really good advice from three professionals in the cleaning field and I want to share it with you today.
Let's start with #3 of the top 3 most neglected home cleaning areas.
Do you have a knife block? That beautiful chuck of wood. When is that last time that was cleaned out? Debris can accumulate on the knife blades and food particles can become trapped in the knife slots. McGee suggests using canned air to force out the dust and food debris. After using the air sprayer, soak the entire block in hot soapy water for 30 minutes. Rinse the block really well and then leave it upside down to dry overnight. Air-dry the block before putting your knives back in. Your knives work hard for you, they deserve a nice place to live.
The #2 most neglected home cleaning area is the dishwasher. Did you know you needed to “clean” your dishwasher? It’s job is to clean, I thought it was cleaning itself each time it cleaned my dishes. I have noticed a bad odor coming from the dishwasher from time to time but then it goes away, only to return. Sardone says those bad odors can be addressed by removing the filter screen in the bottom of the dishwasher. Soak the screen a use a brush to remove any extra debris. Next step is to fill a small dish with vinegar and place it on the top rack. Run an empty cycle using hot water. When the cycle is complete, open the door and let the dishwasher air-dry. The stink will be gone!
Any guess to the #1 most neglected home cleaning area?
The top neglected cleaning spot is….drum roll please ….it’s the shower head! Since it's just you and me here right now, I can admit to you that I have never “cleaned” the shower heads in my home. I’ve wiped them down and scraped it with my fingernail when one of the nozzles starts spraying sharp left or sharp right. But “clean” them, never. McGee says it’s easy. Don't worry, there is no removing of the shower head. Whew! McGee suggest wiping the shower head down every couple weeks. For deep cleaning to remove scale and reduce clogs, deep cleaning should be done twice a year. Homer recommends submerging the showerhead in a quart-size baggie filled with vinegar and water. Use a rubber band or elastic hair tie around the bag ad the pipe behind the head to hold the bag securely over the shower head. 10 minutes should be long enough for most shower heads to soak. For lots of build-up, you may need a little longer soak. After soaking, remove the bag, rinse off the vinegar, wipe down the showerhead and you are done!
I hope you enjoyed reading about the top 3 most neglected home cleaning areas and they are no longer neglected at your house. I learned some great tips from Beth, Debbie and Melissa. Maybe there is a tip or two you start at home. If they work for you, pass them on to others. Keeping a clean house is not always easy and can be quite time consuming. Personally, anything that gives me more time to play vs cleaning, is always a good recommendation to share!
With so many reusable shopping bags available, do you ever wonder which reusable shopping tote is best?
When the shift started from plastic to reusable, I collected tons of totes. I didn't have the penny mentality of “take a bag, leave a bag”. Some were colorful, many were very natural looking but all of them were made out of different material. You know what I'm talking about. Reusable shopping totes have been around along time, but which one is the best reusable shopping tote? Many companies give them away, adorned with their logo, info, pictures etc. in the effort to “spread the news” of their business. Shopping totes started to feel like the new business card.
IS IT HOARDING? --
A few years ago I stopped accepting free totes. I only wanted ones that I would use and that worked well for my shopping habits. Two thermal bags is a must. I my quest for keeping the “right” bags, I began to wonder about the material. So many processes and materials, which one was the best environmentally. Yes, reusing is good; but the fabrics and manufacturing processes are also important.
Below is the information I found that was important to know in trying to answer my own question,
“What is the best reusable shopping tote”?
I also share with you my personal “Pros”, “Cons” and “My Best Pick” for each type bag. Please feel free to share you knowledge of this subject in the comments below. There are so many bags, and such little time! LOL
PLASTIC GOOD, COTTON BAD --
There was an article a few years back that led folks to think that disposable plastic bags are more eco-friendly than reusable cotton totes. [1 ] The findings suggest that, in order to balance out the tiny impact of each lightweight plastic bag, consumers would have to use the same cotton bag every working day for a year.
According to the report, It found that an HDPE plastic bag would have a baseline global warming potential of 1.57 kg Co2 equivalent, falling to 1.4 kg Co2e if re-used once, the same as a paper bag used four times (1.38 kg Co2e).
A cotton bag would have to be re-used 171 times to emit a similar level, 1.57 kg Co2e.
A canvas tote needs to be used 171 times to have the same environmental greenhouse effect as a single-use plastic bag.
THE KEY -- The key to this report is that it only dealt only with greenhouse gases, ignoring litter and other environmental impacts. It is these impacts that are behind the growing number of plastic bag bans in cities across the US and the world. By focusing only on greenhouse gas emissions this report may lead readers to believe that plastic bags are actually better.2
Fabric Options --
Polypropylene: At 103 grams, the manufacturing of the polypropylene material for each bag creates 138 grams of greenhouse gas emissions, which compares to the manufacture of 11 disposable plastic shopping bags.
PRO: It’s a fabric made from plastic that feels like canvas. Ideal bag material as it is clean, durable, affordable, machine washable, and recyclable.
CON: Cheap polypropylene can contain lead or toxins that compromise your bag.
MY BEST POLYPROPYLENE CHOICE: Bulletinbag, made in the USA.
Polyester: Polyester totes are tiny, portable shopping bags. Polyester is a very thin and durable fabric.
PRO: Easy to shash one in your purse or clip to your belt.
CON: Can be blended with other fabrics taking it hundreds of years to decompose.
MY BEST POLYESTER CHOICE: ChicoBag is an amazing Certified B Corp with a mission to eliminate the need for disposable plastic shopping bags.
Cotton: I'm a big fan of cotton so I tend to gravitate towards canvas bags. Organic cotton is best because there is no use of chemicals or pesticides. The environmental impact is based on the weight of cotton use.
PRO: cotton material is durable and long lasting.
PRO #2: If handy on a sewing machine, you can make your own!
CON: Uses a significant about of water to grow cotton.
MY BEST COTTON PICK: Any tote up-cycled from old t shirts or clothing.
"Fast Fashion" is a new term. According to Wikipedia: Fast fashion is a contemporary term used by fashion retailers to express that designs move from catwalk quickly to capture current fashion trends. Fast fashion clothing collections are based on the most recent fashion trends presented at Fashion Week in both the spring and the autumn of every year.
The amount of fabric discards are piling up. Much like disposable plastic items never go anywhere, neither does fabric. For an interesting look at the problem, watch The True Cost movie.
MY BEST OVERALL PICK: Any lightweight cotton tote for a lower environmental impact.
What is the best reusable tote?-
MY THOUGHTS -- I need to decide what I expect from the bag, what I am using it for and I bet a couple more questions will come to be as I do research. I will write a follow-up article to this one once I have solved this problem for myself. Stay tuned….
What is your favorite reusable tote?
Share with me in the comments below. You probably have a great company you can recommend me! :)
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It seems like we learn our laundry tips at an early age. Some helpful, some not; but we do the best we can. Then we get older and learn there is a whole world of helpful items like mesh laundry bags. My recent favorite was a step up to a better laundry bag. I say “step up” because for many years I bought these cheap affordable laundry bags from dollar stores. They did the job well enough and when they wore down I bought new ones. Not very eco of me I know, but I wasn’t always the crunchy green girl I am today.
The introduction of Amazon has transformed product buying and researching. One feature I love on Amazon is located close to the bottom of the product page. My recent favorite was a step up to a better laundry bag. I say “step up” because for many years I bought these cheap affordable laundry bags from dollar stores. They did the job well enough and when they wore down I bought new ones. Not very eco of me I know, but I wasn’t always the crunchy green girl I am today.
Refilling: What does it really save? Maybe you remember a day when food items were purchased or even delivered in a reusable container. Maybe you are like me and don’t have a memory of the days of refilling. It seems like there is a new movement to bring us back to those days of less packaging. The zero waste community has an ever-growing presence. It seems opposite of what I was raised with being a child of the single use revolution. Everything I carried to school, from early days through college was in a ziplock bag. Refilling it, what does that really save? That was the attitude for a long time. When I was about 22, maybe 23 rinsing out a plastic baggie in the sink when a friend asked me why I was rinsing it out; “just throw it away”, he said.
(The picture to the left is the LA River, California, USA)
Gwyneth Paltrow got my zero waste blood flowing.
When it comes to our bodies, we all deserve to do with it what we want, after all, its our own personal temple. As a woman, there is one thing that definitely sets me apart from a man, and that my friend is my monthly friend, the menstrual cycle. Men are so lucky they don’t deal with Aunt Flo – Aunt Flo and cousin Red – cousin Red – crimson wave – delicate – flow – on the rag – red tide – ride the cotton pony – Sally – shark week – surf the crimson wave – that time of the month – or just simply “women’s trouble”.
As a redhead, I’ve heard all the period jokes throughout elementary and middle school. By high school, those jokes subside as girls are “actually” bleeding and no longer think its funny. Haha, girls, who’re laughing now. Recently I read an open letter to one of my celebrity crushes, it really got my zero waste blood flowing.
Soapnuts are not nutty.
The title can mean two things and they are both correct. Soapnuts are not nuts, they are berries. Soapnuts are not nuts, they’re not even borderline crazy; they really do work! You may already be familiar with this little powerhouse of a berry, but in case you’re new to the soapnut game, let me bring you up to speed real quick. Soapnuts grow on trees. The most widespread one is the “Sapindus Mukorossi”, grown in North India and Nepal and know as “big soapnut”. In case you are wondering, there is a “small soapnut”, called “Sapindus Trifoliatus”, grown in South India where the climate is warmer and milder.