Sep 4, 2018

My Friend The EcoBag

    One of the things I found most striking about shopping retail on our summer trip back to the states was the sheer number of plastic bags one is inundated with at stores like Walmart or Target. It didn't used to bother me, I think, and my household just like all the other households I knew had that lingering bank of bags somewhere, taking up half a drawer or cupboard with poorly utilized resources turned into cheap and flimsy bags that rip so easily that it is hard to re-purpose them well.

My Friend The EcoBag photo
These were from one short shopping trip, and these were only the ones I managed to use as waterproof padding in my luggage.

    So what changed? Well, when I moved to Japan in 2008, stores in the area that I had moved to had started to offer plastic bags only for the cost of 3 yen per bag. This didn't seem like a lot to spend but the fact that you had to ask for the bags and pay in advance made your decision to opt for plastic instead of using an eco-bag more of a conscious one. In the decade since then, I have really become accustomed to filling my own bag when grocery shopping and tend to feel a pang of ecological guilt when having to opt for a plastic bag when I forget my reusable options at home.

    Japan does fail to utilize plastic packaging well in many cases, individually wrapping things unnecessarily and with many retail shops using plastic bags more wantonly than most grocery stores. What I saw in the states though would be akin to walking into Daiso, buying 14 things, and receiving them in no fewer than 10 bags. Things were thrown together with no thought as to how they would be used and complete disregard for minimizing the number of bags. I would never see this done so thoughtlessly in Japan. Heck, I don't think I've ever seen someone bag my groceries here at all, save for my husband. 
My Friend The EcoBag photo
These are only the few I could find in the living room.

    I do love eco-bags, but I also have a tendency to hoard things, so a lot of eco-bags I find and like tend to be re-purposed as gift wrapping or containers for small projects in my home. Sometimes these projects get lost in the shuffle, ruining the bag's purpose of helping organize things. Other times, my attempt to add value to a gift gets misinterpreted as wastefulness and/or laziness. Still, more importantly, when I forget the bags at the store and wind up having to buy a plastic bag anyway, it really reminds me that usefulness is what you make of it. A commitment to using the eco-bag means making sure it gets put back in the purse or backpack before shopping occurs, and watching how much you buy so as not to overload the bags provided.

My Friend The EcoBag photo
If you fold them up and put them away, perhaps you can use them another day.



A working mom/writer/teacher, Jessica explores her surroundings in Miyagi-ken and Tohoku, enjoying the fun, quirky, and family friendly options the area has to offer.


  • Candiajia1

    on Sep 13

    I do love my eco bags too. I especially like the ones that come in a little drawstring carrying pouch. makes it super easy to just tuck in my bag or a coat pocket without taking up much space. If only more of us were this conscious!

  • JTsuzuki

    on Sep 13

    @Candiajia1 I agree! The best ones are the ones that fold away into their own pouches or attached pockets easily. EcoBag Power!