Reusable Bags Have Been At Trader Joe's Longer Than You May Expect

There are a lot of unique things about shopping at Trader Joe's — the store brands you can't get anywhere else, the cleverly hidden stuffed animal, and of course, the bags. Anyone who has shopped at Trader Joe's will recognize its unique selection of reusable shopping bags, available for sale at the register as a way to replace disposable bags. They come in fun designs and are always pretty eye-catching.

These days, reusable shopping bags are ubiquitous. They can last for years and are a common, environmentally friendly alternative to disposable paper or plastic bags. Many stores will either sell reusable bags or offer you a discount if you bring one. Tote bags, in particular, have risen to such a status that they are not just practical but highly fashionable. But, long before bringing your own bag to the check-out counter became the norm, one store was ahead of the curve. Trader Joe's introduced their first reusable shopping bag in 1977.

The Save a Tree bag

Called the "Save a Tree" bag, Trader Joe's first reusable shopping bag came with the implication that using one of these bags regularly would ultimately reduce the number of trees needed for paper bag production. This was significant because in the 1970s, reusable shopping bags were not yet a common thing, and Trader Joe's was among the first to introduce the concept. It was not until the 1990s that the reusable shopping bag movement picked up steam. 

And for good reason: According to Penn State University, Americans dispose of 100 billion plastic bags annually. Columbia University reports that 14 million trees are cut down every year to make paper shopping bags in the U.S. But remember, reusable bags also have an environmental footprint, so be sure to use your reusable bags consistently in order to make them a greener option. The most sustainable thing you can do is get as many uses out of whatever bag you already have, regardless of what it is made of. So these days, when you buy a reusable Trader Joe's shopping bag, you are actually participating in a nearly 50-year-old environmentally minded tradition!