Sunday, April 24, 2011

Decluttering and Organizing the Tote Bag Collection

tote bag from Strand bookstore

Have you seen the Strand bookstore's tote bags? Perfection. Awesome-ness in the form of a bag. I own waaaaaaaay too many. -- Amy, on her blog Let Go and Go On

Do you have like a gazillion reusable shopping bags? -- Rita Rubin, on Twitter

There are many reasons to have a collection of reusable tote bags. Maybe you buy a lot of groceries at once. I use a bunch of them in my organizing business, to haul away things (like books) that my clients no longer want and need, as I take them to new homes.

And here's Rachel from San Diego, quoted from her e-mail to me (with her permission): "I am taking three classes right now, also in four book discussion groups, and also I am a knitter. It just makes the best sense for me to have a separate bag for each of these activities (some of the class books are very heavy) which I can just grab when I go out the door." Organizer Allison Carter does something very similar. Update on Aug. 11, 2013: I can no longer find Allison's post about this.

But do you keep buying more bags, because you forget to take yours with you? Or have you gotten more than you need because they were handed out as promotional items, as these bags have become increasingly popular give-aways? If you've got way more bags then you'll ever use, it may be time to donate or otherwise give away some of the excess bags.

organizers for reusable tote bags

If you'd like a way to corral the bags, other than just stuffing then inside another bag - you could consider using the Tote Buddy, which "neatly holds piles of reusable bags." It's another one of those products I saw at the recent organizers' conference in San Diego - and while it's a bit too fussy for me, personally, it might be just right for someone else.


Allison Spitzer Carter said...

Thanks for the shout out. My big tote problem is that I keep receiving reusable grocery bags from various organizations. I stuff a bunch inside the biggest one and store one set in the trunk of the car always. The other set is inside after unpacking groceries. I still have more than I "need" but love the variety that I don't give 'em away. May fave of course is the bag from NAPO Conference in Columbus. If someone comes up with a great idea besides stuffing or stacking, lemme know!

Naomi said...

I like the Strand bag a lot, but I can't see myself buying an "organizer" for my shopping bags. One of the many glorious things you can do with a tote bag is use it to hold other tote bags in the back of your car, and while you're doing your shopping. :)

When I was downsizing, I donated my least favorite tote bags to Goodwill (filled with clothing donations). That was a good way to get rid of them.

Amy said...

My dad used to attend a lot of conferences and would come home with a bunch of tote bags. It is actually really handy to have "throwaway" bags to use when giving a bunch of items to a person (i.e. Freecycle). I do have WAY too many of my own, though....and the Strand ones rank up there. Maybe I can call them a "collection"? :)

Marilyn said...

I have way more bags than I need,and I have donated a lot of them. Some I just have to keep no matter what. My favorite reusable ones are the ones that fold into a rose or a pig or a fruit and fit right in my purse. When I am in a store I always have them and after I unload I don't have to remember to take them back to the car.

TheAL said...

The Tote Buddy = Genius! The reusable totes do get out of hand. I've been reducing my collection to just the ones I truly need. Some I recycled and some I sent to the Goodwill. But for groceries I now use two bags, a very stylish rolling bag, in which I place the items directly and one large insulated bag (Amazon) for cold items. Both are large enough to hold a hefty grocery trip. I keep a few others for day to day errands and that's it! I store those in a clear zippered comforter bag. I've also taken to washing them and disinfecting them regularly after I saw a report on the news on how much bacteria can grown on your reusable totes, YIKES! ;-)

Tote 4 Pgh said...

Here in Pittsburgh we have a new project, The Pittsburgh Tote Bag Project, which rehomes tote bags to local food pantries. We partner with food drives, but also collect bags individually. Our website is

Kristi Schneider said...

Buy a bag for organizing bags. I love it. I really do like this product. Thank you for sharing...

Jeri Dansky said...

So many interesting comments here!

Tote 4 Pgh, I love the idea of giving extra totes to food pantries; best wishes for your project! I always remind people with extra grocery bags that any organization doing a good give-away can probably also use donations of bags.

Amy, I agree that a collection of totes can be handy. I sometimes wind up using ALL of mine to take away the many books my clients want to get rid of (and want me to take care of for them). The books then go to a donation site, Freecycle, or a used bookstore, depending on the situation. And I too use extra totes - the ones I don't want to keep - to hold items of all sorts that I'm giving away on Freecycle.

Naomi, I did something similar just today - dropped things off at my local thrift store, using a bag (in this case, a laundry bag) I didn't want to keep.