Remember your reusable bags

Last updated: 27 May 2022
Illustration of a person grabbing a reusable bag before walking out of their front door.

Small acts are all it takes to make a big impact

Just by switching to reusable shopping bags and remembering to take them every time you go shopping, you’ll be saving money, natural resources and the planet.

It’s a small act with a big impact on Victoria’s sustainable future.

Why it matters

Plastic bags, together with other single-use plastic items such as water bottles and straws, make up one third of the litter we see on Victoria’s streets and in our parks and waterways. Once in the environment, they cause a whole range of issues.

Plastic bags:

  • are often used for only a few minutes but remain in the environment for hundreds of years
  • break down into microplastics which stay in the environment where they harm wildlife, contaminate food and water, and can be harmful to our health
  • often become litter which can be costly to clean up
  • are made from virgin materials such as oil which is a non-renewable natural resource.

Tips and tricks

Keep your bags handy

Forgetting reusable bags when we shop happens to all of us. Make it easy to remember your reusable bags by:

  • keeping some by the front door or next to where you keep your keys
  • keeping some in the boot of your car or on the passenger seat
  • keeping some in your regular carry bag, like your handbag or backpack.

By storing your reusable bags in a few convenient locations, you always have some on hand for when you head out to shop. Wherever you store your reusable bags, make sure to wash them regularly to keep them clean.

Put your bags back in the same place

After unpacking your shopping and checking that your bags are clean, put them back by the door, in your car or in your carry bag so they are ready for next time.

Keep a variety of bags

It's always best to use bags that you already have at home instead of buying new ones. We recommend using a variety of bags that:

  • are durable – look for thick straps and strong stitching that are sturdy enough to carry heavier items such as milk or juice bottles
  • are functional – some bags fold up to a size small enough to easily fit into your carry bag and some can even be clipped onto your key ring
  • you like to be seen with – if you like the look and style of something, you are more likely to use it
  • are made from cotton, canvas, calico or recycled plastic, as these are more sustainable choices.

Try swapping plastic fruit and vegetable bags for a reusable alternative

Reusable fruit and vegetable bags (also known as produce bags) are small, lightweight bags that come in various materials, sizes and designs. You can buy them at most major retailers including supermarkets, smaller shops or from online retailers. If you’re handy with a sewing machine, you could even create and make your own. Keep them in your handbag, backpack or in your reusable shopping bags to avoid using plastic bags when you shop for fruit and vegetables.

Recycling plastic bags and other soft plastics

A soft plastic is a type of plastic that can easily be scrunched into a ball.

If you cannot avoid using soft plastics and single-use bags, it is important that you do not put them in your recycling bin at home as they can prevent recycling from being processed and turned into new products. Instead, take them to a recycling drop-off point near you. These days, most drop-off points at supermarkets accept single-use plastic bags.

About the single-use plastics ban

In 2019, the Victorian Government implemented a ban on lightweight plastic shopping bags that have a thickness of 35 microns or less. That’s why it is more important than ever to take simple actions to remember your reusable shopping bags.

In addition, the Victorian Government will ban single-use items, including straws, cutlery, plates, drink-stirrers, expanded polystyrene food and drink containers and cotton bud sticks by February 2023. Learn more about the ban on single-use items.

Find a small act that works for you

There are many other easy ways to reduce waste and recycle more. Find a small act that works for you and be part of Victoria’s sustainable future.