May 8, 2017

Ways To Refuse Plastic Bags While Shopping

Fun and practical ways to tell cashiers 'no thank you' to plastic bags while shopping.

Does this ever happen to you? You pop into the grocery store to pick up a few items for dinner. You load your items onto the belt and as the transaction in front of you finishes up you start digging in your purse to find your reusable bag.

Yes, I have to dig, my purse isn't even that big, but inevitably my bag falls to the bottom or gets pushed to one side so it takes a minute for me to find it. Don't even get my started on my keys which have a magical ability to bury down to the bottom of the purse within 2 minutes.

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Ways to refuse plastic bags.

You pull out your bag the transaction finishes so you move up to the area where you pay. You then notice that the cashier has already started ringing up your items and placed them in a plastic bag. What do you do? Do you take the bag? Do you refuse it?

Cashiers are so quick! You either have to alert them that you want a reusable bag by placing it at the front of your items on the belt or catch them in the belt-scan-bag act. Hubby and I have got good at saying "we don't need a bag" as we notice their arm pass the scanner towards the plastic bags.

So today I'm going to offer up fun and practical ways to refuse the plastic bags.
  • The world uses one trillion bags each year, I'm trying to do my part to reduce that.
  • 5 minutes in the bag, forever in the landfill.
  • I'm worried about the mermaids.
  • I've got so many plastic bags at home I don't need any more. 
  • I carried it up here without a bag.
  • I'm just running it out to the car.
  • I don't want a sea turtle to confuse it with a jelly fish.
  • I don't need a bag, I brought my own.
  • I'm going to use/eat it now.
  • My reusable bag carries more.
  • We're trying to reduce our plastic use.
  • I brought my reusable bag.
  • I don't need another thing to recycle.
  • I feel guilty because I learned about a whale who died from eating plastic bags.
  • I prefer not to use things that can only be downcycled, not recycled
  • I don't need my meat in a separate bag, I wash them. 
And finally:
  • No thank you, I don't need a bag. 

Please remember that cashiers are just trying to do their job. Being efficient is how they succeed. So recognize that you might be messing with their flow or they don't feel the same way about plastic bags as you. So gauge your audience when you try some of these and always remember to be polite.

How do you refuse the bags?

If you are looking for more alternatives to plastic bags check out my post talking about different kinds of reusable bags and some out of the box alternatives.

Alternatives to Plastic Grocery Bags

Or if you want to know about my favorite reusable bag check out this post.


  1. I keep my daisy totes in the "seat" part of the grocery cart. Then I put them on the belt first. If I just have a few things to get and carry my bag in, I simply tell them that I try not to use plastic and that's why I make my own totes.
    Question for ya-when you were living in Hawaii, what do people use in the produce department for their items? I have separate cloth mesh bags that I use, but I was just wondering what the grocery stores there offer their customers?
    Thanks for your great work!

    1. Unfortunately there were loopholes in the Hawaii law. So they still allowed plastic bags for meat and produce...and they actually allowed for "reusable" bags, so some stores just started giving out THICKER plastic bags. Ugh. So the stores still offered plastic, but I've got mesh bags that I use.

  2. HI Katy,
    Some great suggestions on how to refuse plastic bags. I have notice there is more and more awareness on plastic pollution than before recently. The healthy food store we go to actually gives 3cents for every bag that bring to put your products in and I always take my own bags. Thanks for sharing this ideas. Pinning & tweeting. Visiting from #WasteLessWednesday ! Have a healthy, happy & blessed week.

    1. It's so awesome that the store is helping to eliminate plastic bags. Financial incentives are a great way to help influence people. Thanks for sharing!

  3. I always try to bring bags with me, if for no other reason that you can actually get in them! The number of times when I need a bag the checkout operator doesn't open it for me and I seem to spend half an hour desperately rubbing my fingers against it to try to get it to open!

    1. Ha! Yes, reusable bags are far simpler to use!

  4. I definitely refuse most of the time and I am going to invest in a reusable bag very soon! Thanks for sharing!

    1. I bet you can find ones for free, many festivals and companies give them away for promotion, but they won't be as cute!