9 Ways to Snag a Bag (For Free!)

By Linsey Knerl on 22 April 2008 (Updated 18 August 2011) 19 comments
Photo: Paul Irish

Reusable shopping bags are growing in popularity, and while they are a super way to save on plastic, they can be pricey for those of us who lug home two full carts of groceries every other week. Here are the best ways to score free reusable shopping bags from your favorite retailers! (But hurry! Several end today.)

Home Depot – It’s not too late to get in on the free tote bags given away at participating Home Depot Stores nationwide. They are handing them out on Earth Day and until they are all gone. Call your local store to see if they have any left!

Earthbound Farm Organic – Put your thinking caps on, and take a quiz to see how well you know your conservation facts. If you score a 9 or better (easy to do if you check the site a bit), they will send you a free tote! Offer expires April 30th.

L.A. Neighborhood Grocers – Get in on this last opportunity to score a free bag from local grocers in the Los Angeles area. Participating stores are listed here, and it ends today!

H-E-B – This store chain will give you a coupon for a free reusable shopping bag when you drop at least 5 plastic bags into the recycling bin at participating stores. This offer is for today only, until 7 p.m.!

Wescoe Beach, Kansas – OK, so I’m not headed there anytime soon, but check out the cool promotion going on this Thursday and Friday at Wescoe Beach! Four companies got together and decided to hand out 755 free tote bags as part of an initiative to cut back on plastics. The best part? Bringing the bag to any of the four participating retailers entitles you to special discounts and promotions. See all the details HERE.

SoCal Honda Dealers – Car dealers are hoping to get your green business by offering free bags and even planting a tree in your name, from now until the end of April. All the details can be found at SoCalHonda.com and AutoBlogGreen.

An old t-shirt – That’s right. No Impact Man’s no-frills instructions for making your own tote bag from that Hard Rock Café shirt you’ve been saving since High School is relevant to anyone with a sewing machine or a simple whip stitch.

Garage Sales – It’s not uncommon to find all kinds of canvas totes and reusable shopping bags stuffed into the FREE bins or boxes at local yard sales. If you see some that are unmarked, offer to take them off of the seller’s hands for free when you purchase something else you need!

Local Food Events – We recently attended some local organic grower events, food fairs, and green events where the free reusable bags were flowing like honey. Check out local events coming up in your area, and don’t forget to bring a reusable bag to stash all those NEW reusable bags in for the trip home!

 

 

Any other ideas for free bags? Let us know. We love free stuff!

 

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Guest's picture
Kat

I got a perfect score on the Earthbound Farm quiz - and my free tote is on the way!

Wheeeee!

Guest's picture
Jessica

Me too!

Myscha Theriault's picture

Especially the T-shirt link. That's pretty cool.

I so wish I was near some of these other things. I have two or three, but we are like you, Linsey. While our family is smaller, we shop less frequently and in mass. So it's usually harder to have as many. I think I know what I'm going to ask my Mom to make me the next time she asks what I want for a gift!

Thanks for a fabulous article.

Guest's picture
ms_christilin

if the retailers- especially the larger ones like Walmart- would train their cashiers better with the reusable shopping bags.

I went to the expense of purchasing some of the reusable bags that they had for sale, and try to remember to take them with me when I shop (keeping them stored in the trunk of my car helps :))! But some of the cashiers act like I have really inconvenienced them when I ask to have my purchases bagged in the reusables- one even went so far as to put them in a plastic shopping bag for me, then acted like I was an idiot for insisting that she take them out and actually use them!

I love the concept, and I will continue to make the effort, but they can be rather awkward when the system is so geared toward the status quo!

Guest's picture

Even better than getting a new free reusable bag like those mentioned. Reuse one that already exists, check out your local salvation army, goodwill, (any thrift store) and you'll find all kind of canvas book bags, beach bags, etc that can be used for shopping, are cheap and they're already out there, looking for a home!

Guest's picture
Lucille

I love the reusable bags most of the stores have. I did have to pay for mine but they were $1.99 or less and I get a nickel back per bag when I buy groceries. I keep a laundry basket in the trunk of my car to toss them in so I don't forget to bring them. I also bought bags for each of the stores I buy at frequently. I found that using the reusable bag that store sells gets better compliance from the checkers. I had someone bag my canvas tote bag in a plastic shopping bag before.

There is one checker at the local Target store who is just a flat out jerk about the reusable bags. I put them before my purchases on the conveyer belt. She looked at them, muttered something that sounded rather nasty and tossed them on the other end of the register stand. Then she proceeded to slam all of the things I bought on top of the bags. I just don't use her check out lane any longer. Most of the other stores have people fairly trained by now.

I just wish some of the other retailers would start doing something like this or be more tote bag friendly like stores at the mall maybe?

Guest's picture
meme

I love freaking out the cashiers with my reusable bags!
Most of them recover very quickly and just put my stuff in.
But, I don't care if they huff and puff about using them. Its their job!!

Guest's picture
Guest

I see KU is doing its part, too! Wescoe Beach is a location on the KU (University of Kansas) campus, basically their quad. It's awesome to see a student group and local businesses step up like that. Lawrence, which is home to the KU campus, is well known for its liberal views and has been referred to as the home of "hippies" for a long time now. Reusable bags are more accepted in that town than in any other I've used mine in.

I can't tell you how many times I have a cashier look at my reusable bags, try to fill them maybe half full like they do with plastic bags, and then get confused when I tell them they hold more than that. No wonder our country is choked with bags - they are abused by cashiers everywhere!

Guest's picture
Daniel

We have several canvas bags from Trader Joe's and wish we had got them sooner, they also hold much more than the non-reusable plastic bags. Each time you check out with reusable bags at Trader Joe's, they give you a raffle ticket to enter for a $25 gift card. A few weeks ago they gave us a free reusable bag for waiting in line while the customer ahead of us ran back to get something.

Guest's picture
LizLovely

Super Supplements is also handing out free reusable/recyclable totes for your free-bag-collecting pleasure. :D

Guest's picture
Hilary

I've seen two ways to reuse the standard plastic bags that you get by turning them into a sturdier bag one of two ways:

1) Turn them into a plastic yarn and then either knit or crochet them into a bag:
http://lifehacker.com/372002/crochet-a-shoulder-tote-from-grocery-bags

2) Fuse bags together to create a strong material that you can sew together as a bag:
http://etsylabs.blogspot.com/2007/05/long-overdue-fusing-plastic-bag.html

Both would be a great free (or almost free if you count thread and knitting needles) option for anyone into crafts.

Guest's picture
Guest

What about asking the sewing machine companies to come up with a pattern for a reusable shopping bag? Then they could have a contest for the best made or best looking bag. Would you want it to have a pocket to hold your shopping list and a pen? Or a bigger pocket to hold an ice pack for frozen foods? A separate cloth bag to hold loose vegetables or fruit? Can you suggest any other features for the shopping bag?

Guest's picture
Jackie

My fiance and I travel alot because I am a travel nurse. We were just in California and we were trying to think of a souvenirs to get from every place we go. Well we went to the San Diego Zoo and they had reusable bags and we went to a music store called Ameoba and they also have them. Its neat because when we go to the store people always ask about them haha. If you go to Safeway they currently have a cupon book at the customer service desk and in it there is a free tote bag when you spend $50.

Guest's picture
Guest

I've been using my own shopping totes for years. I've sewn all of them from fabric, recycled old clothes and even the 20+pound vinyl birdseed bags {very sturdy}.

And if you can't sew, ask a friend that does.

Guest's picture
Guest

I just received my Earthbound bag today for getting a perfect score on that quiz. It took a while to receive so I thought it might be a scam. Thanks for posting that. I also went to Walmart that day and got their free bag. Thanks for posting that.

Linsey Knerl's picture

It's good to hear that people are getting their bags!

Guest's picture
GreenPal

You might be thinking about getting some reusable bags for awhile, but the fact that the convenience of free plastic bags really builds up a habit of hard to kick. Well, now you have no more reason to keep you from using reusable bags. As the website name said, you can get free reusable bags from them, the bags are not your normal boring looking reusable bags, they're like designer bags, very stylish and functional. I was kind of skeptical at first, but after I received my bags in less than week, I'm now a big believer, and happy to be playing my role in saving planet earth.

Guest's picture
EcoPhil

You can order a free promotional tote bag from myfreetotebag.com. They don't charge for shipping, nor do they sell anything else. It takes just a minute to fill out the form so they can match you with a sponsor who wants to advertise to you or your area.

Guest's picture
Shandi

I've been using reusable bags for my grocery shopping at Walmart way before they had their own. So, to cut out on the grouchy cashiers not wanting to comply, I just tell them to ring the stuff and put it on top of the plastic bagging thing and I will bag my own. They usually are so happy to get a break from bagging they will thank me for helping them! Plus, this also allows you to bag how you like to bag, not too heavy, and no bananas or eggs on the bottom. :)