Paper bags are in high demand lately. They offer countless benefits for the environment due to modern advancements in how they’re made, and they’re more reliable.
However, paper bags have their benefits minimized when you don’t reuse them. Yes, they’re still far better than plastic. They minimize the environmental impact of plastic, help the oceans, and generally generate far less pollution. When you don’t reuse them, you still waste perfectly good bags, though.
Here’s a checklist you should follow to help make all the high-quality paper bags you’ve purchased last longer and be used over and over.
Keep Them Dry
First and foremost, you should strive to keep your paper bags dry. Water is their biggest weakness unless they’re treated to be waterproof, and most bags aren’t. This means avoiding walking out of the store in the middle of a rainstorm, storing your bags somewhere moist such as the kitchen or laundry room, and minimizing how many condensation-covered items you put in your bags while shopping.
Of course, water won’t automatically destroy your bags; especially if they just get damp from condensation or a similar situation. However, every time your bags get damp, they will get weaker, and their overall lifespans will shrink dramatically. Do your best to dry them out entirely before using them again, but try hard to avoid moisture in the first place.
Avoid Overpacking Them
Paper bags are pretty strong. Now, they can typically hold more than your standard plastic grocery bags. They do have their limits, though.
If you overpack your paper bags, you increase the chance of them ripping. Once that happens, you can’t really repair them, and the rip will get exponentially worse very quickly if you keep items in the bag. Once a bag rips, it’s best to toss it in the recycling bin.
A good rule of thumb is to stop adding items to the bag as soon as it starts to feel a bit off. If you have to carry something heavy, such as large soda bottles, double-bag them.
This doesn’t just preserve your stock of paper bags. It also protects your groceries from being spilled all over the ground.
Stack Neatly and Flat When Not in Use
When you’re not using your bags, it’s ideal to make sure you stack them neatly and keep them perfectly flat. This isn’t hard since paper bags are constructed around a folding design, but if you get a little lazy, you can easily end up with a disorganized pile.
If that happens, you can end up ripping your bags easily, and that creates all the problems we talked about above.
It helps if you set aside a special place to store your bags. You can keep them in the trunk of your car if you don’t store much back there, and then they’ll be ready every time you shop. That, or you can find a cubby hole in your home that is purely dedicated to paper bag storage.
If you follow all of these tips, you’ll be able to reuse your paper bags for a multitude of shopping trips before you have to replace them.