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4 Ways To Unwrap Your Holidays


Think reusable bags are only to be used at grocery stores? Think again! Zero Waste Communities is here to give you 4 simple tips to get the most out of your reusable bags this holiday season.

1.  Reusable bags aren’t just for the supermarket.
We all like to get the most value out of our purchases—especially during those holiday sales—but there’s one complimentary item that you shouldn’t feel cheated by turning down at the register: a shopping bag. Using your reusable bag collection for your general holiday shopping will help cut down on numerous wasted disposable bags from department stores. Not only will you produce less waste, as a bonus when you bring your treasures home your giftees won’t know what stores you’ve been to.


For those nervous about being the odd-shopper-out, for five years Heal the Bay has coordinated “A Day Without A Bag” on the third Thursday of December—the 15th this year—where holiday shoppers and retailers forgo single-use plastic shopping bags in favor of reusable bags.

2. Think outside the box; right outside the box.
A lot of effort goes into making our presents look like presents. All that colorful paper looks great, but did you know that wrapping paper and shopping bags alone account for about 4 million tons of trash annually in the US?  Most of us probably know that with a little bit of extra effort and care, even the most delicate of wrapping papers can be saved or passed on to wrap again. While that’s fantastic, with a little creativity, resourcefulness and research you can blur the line between wrapping and wrapped. There are a lot of sites that offer some great ideas for good looking reusable packaging or how to make the packaging itself, a part of the gift.

3. That’s your bag, Baby.
Sometimes, you don’t even need to put anything inside of the bag. And why should you?  If you happen to find a really awesome bag that you think your friends and family would love to carry and use week after week for their shopping or personal needs, that’s definitely a gift worth giving. Just don’t try to say it’s the same thing as a purse. Even thought it kind of is, that could to get you into trouble.

4. Bags? We don’t need no stinking bags.
If you really want to get serious about using less, don’t wrap or bag your gifts at all. You’ll even get bonus points if the gift itself is made to be reusable or made from recycled or reused material. You can carry small purchases home in your hand, purse or pockets. Once you’re back home, if you want to get more festive than presenting your gift by saying, “Here you go,”  find places to hide them: under a pillow, in a tree or in the refrigerator. Be creative, but don’t forget the tried and true behind-your-back technique.

Mostly, we hope that you’ll join with Zero Waste Communities in committing to a simpler but no less magical holiday season. Do you have any gift-giving and material-saving ideas? Share them with us!


How Big Is Your Collection Of Reusable Bags?

As the Zero Waste Communities'  Reusable Bag Campaign prepares to roll out across San Bernardino County after a successful pilot program, we’d like to change our main question from “do you use reusable bags?” to “how many reusable bags do you have?”

If you’ve got more than 10 - wow, good job! But don’t worry if you feel like your number is too low. We’ve all got to start somewhere, so why not at one? While disposable plastic bags are convenient and often free, that’s beginning to change in many cities with new local environmental legislation.

Now is the perfect time to start expanding that bag stash and Zero Waste Communities is ready to help you do it by launching a Reusable Bag Campaign and teaming up with local grocery stores. Residents can connect with us on Facebook or at one of our partner stores: Albertsons in Apple Valley, Hesperia, Highland and Victorville, and Clark’s Nutrition in Loma Linda.  This year, employees at our partner stores will be reminding residents to use their reusable bags. Best of all, by filling out a sign-up sheet in-store or online and “liking” us on Facebook, San Bernardino County residents can receive a free reusable bag! Whether this is your first one or your tenth, each reusable bag you use stops many of its disposable counterparts from ending up in landfills, or worse, as roaming debris.

As our partnerships prove, it’s not just the conservation groups that are supporting this shift to reusable bags; many retailers are advocating reusable bags as well. This commitment goes beyond reminding people to “Grab Your Bag.” Retailers like Clark’s Nutrition and Albertsons are embracing comprehensive, affordable and environmentally conscious choices and reminders for their customers. Albertsons in particular over the last year has significantly expanded its recycling programs throughout the country, putting their stores and offices on a path to zero waste.

These grocery store partnerships continue to be important because even those of us who carry reusable bags with us for shopping can often forget to bring them into the store - whoops! After our pilot campaign launched earlier this year, a combination of public outreach and on-site retailer engagement resulted in the percentage of reusable bags increasing from only 5% to 14.5%!  And while almost 10 percent improvement is a good number, we have a long way to go.

Sign up for a free reusable bag online or at one of our partner stores and be a part of a strong community of reusable bag users in San Bernardino County. This is a small but important step towards making disposable plastic bags the exception rather than the rule in California, the country, and the world.


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