How to Ditch a Bag Habit

Bags are incredibly useful. They carry our groceries, show off where we buy our clothing, save us from wrapping gifts, carry our lunches and basically store everything from our laptops to our keys, all the while being a great fashion accessory to boot!

With all the great uses for bags we have it seems nearly impossible to think they could ever become a problem but when the bags we have start creating clutter in our homes, then a good thing is starting to go wrong. So, what do you do if you find yourself with a cabinet stuffed with bags or a pile of used grocery bags shoved into a corner?

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Luckily, the solutions are simple and easy to implement. There are four basic steps you can ask yourself as you’re deciding to get rid of bags. Each person will have a different answer for this because how many bags you can have depends on space and use, which for those of us who love our bags can be a hard decision to make as our needs and wants start to do battle with each other.

Step 1: See how many bags you have. 

Separate your bags into categories to see how many of each you have. Create four piles: plastic grocery bags, paper bags, gift bags and cloth/reusable bags. If they are dirty, crushed, ripped or in any other way no longer functional, throw them out.

Step 2: Determine your intent with the bags.

Many of us hold on to bags “just in case” which in some cases can be helpful like storing emergency items in case a disaster hits your area but I can promise you, there has never been a true “gift bag” emergency….ever. If your intent is to take those plastic grocery bags to be recycled or to get that purse zipper fixed, either do it right then or schedule time to complete the project within the week. Unfinished projects weigh us down psychologically so it’s best to just get the task done immediately and move on to more important matters.

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Step 3:  Decide where to keep the bags.  

You can decide how many bags you can keep by how much space you have and the likelihood that you’ll use the bag. Keep in mind that even if you have the space, you don’t have to keep what you know you won’t use. Find a spot where you can easily access the bags so you’ll actually use them. If these are purses, they can also be used for decoration on the walls. If they are plastic or paper bags, take one bag from each pile and place the other bags within the holder bag, this way you can both contain them and access them easily.

Step 4: Ask yourself: Am I keeping these bags for the wrong reasons?

This may seem like a strange question to ask but we hold on to items because of three reasons: (1) We don’t know what to do with an item, (2) aren’t ready to make a decision about what to do with it or (3) we feel guilty or bad for some reason.

If you can’t reach a decision on a bag, keep it for six months and then take action. If you are keeping it because you bought it with the intent to use it and never did, spent too much money on it and never used it, got it as a gift and don’t like it or bought it because you thought it was pretty but have no space to show it off,  it’s OK. We all have these same feelings, but no bag should ever make us feel bad about ourselves or clutter up our homes. Free yourself of the guilt laden bag and get it out immediately. I promise you, you’ll feel better if you just let it go both internally and externally.

Remember that organization is an ongoing process so periodically go through your bags and cull them to keep the clutter at bay and allow yourself to use and enjoy what you have.