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Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!): The Bag Craze

Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!)

My goal here is to make your life easier, especially those who are in the unique situation of being a military spouse. Yes...I've been around...but in a good way...and hopefully can share those tips, tricks and shortcuts with you too. I've been on this military bus for over 40 years now. My goals in life are to have a well-run home, few money worries, well adjusted children, money socked away and whatever happiness I can scoop out of life.

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After life as an Army brat, being in the Army myself and marrying a soldier, I can honestly say I have a bucket full of life lessons I can share to help you make your everyday life easier and enlightening. Don't waste your time making unnecessary mistakes and benefit from others who have come before you on your journey through life.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Bag Craze

If you've spent any amount of time in Germany, you know the bag craze. There is a bag, purse, box or container for everything. You see them everyday...the little old ladies walking down the streets with bags on wheels, bigger than themselves, dragging their daily purchases behind them. Germany is basically a society with very little wasteful plastic bags and a place where people shop almost daily for their groceries. My God, if you want a bag in a store, they will provide them...but you'll have to pay extra for it. We could learn something here. I know in the States, some of the bigger chains, such as Walmart, are jumping on the bandwagon and are providing these cloth recylable bags. Even the commissary and PX have gotten into the game. But what if you think these bags are ugly? What if you don't want to carry a traditional wicker basket, such as many of the Germans do. Do something different and be the first on your block (unless you are already in Germany and have seen these)....

When I first came to Germany, I noticed these canvas high-tech looking colorful baskets that collapsed when not in use. You could store one under the seat of your car or in your trunk, laid flat and then pop it up when you needed it. They look very fashionable, come in a variety of colors and can even be purchased with a lid, so not everyone can peek inside to see what you bought. I started seeing more and more young German women with these things and many Americans over here have taken the plunge as well.

I was at the annual Ramstein Air Base Bazaar over the weekend. They had about 140 vendors with all kinds of pottery (yes, I saw two booths of Polish pottery), linens, leather bags, shoes, rugs, antique and new furniture....all the things you expect to see at a bazaar. I also saw a small display of these collapsible bags and finally figured out that only one company makes these, Reisenthel. They were priced at $49.95. Gee, that's a lot for a shopping bag...but it is very sturdy...and does collapse in such a neat way...I DO want one. But I held off. I was proud of myself. I had planned to check German eBay and online. Much to my surprise, they were selling like hotcakes on German eBay...wait, surprise is the wrong word....disappointed and crestfallen is more like it. I looked around online some more...it was the same price at many online German stores when I included the postage. I was beginning to feel sorry I didn't buy one to begin with, until I found ReusableBags. What a neat site, not only did they have these Carryall Bags I was interested in, but also lots of other neat things. I ended up buying the wrap and mat sandwich thing, cause I always did hate wasting all those plastic sandwich bags for the kids lunches and mine. I used my advice here and also got 20% off with the coupon code. That brought my new shopping bag to just under $32. Isn't it much more fun to get something at a good price than to pay top dollar for it?

Does anyone else use these market bags? Are you happy with it? Do you use recycleable shopping bags? How do you feel about plastic bags? To be honest, the only reason I even take some home from the comissary and PX is because they do make great dog poopy bags..but that's another story for another day.

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8 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I bought about 15 green shopping bags from the commissary here in the states. I LOVE THEM. Now I don't have to wrestle with/dispose of the millions of plastic and paper bags that accumulate (most of them have holes in the bottom so I can't use them for dog poop bags anyway).

I have to say though, that I've never seen another shopper using the bags.

I sleep better at night though, knowing that I'm doing something little for the environment.

September 24, 2008 at 2:46 PM  
Blogger Linda said...

I keep meaning to buy the recyclable bags from the commissary, but I never remember...and since I shop there only twice a month or less, I get a LOT of groceries at one time, so I have NO clue how many of these bags I would need. Of course, I should have bought them a few months ago when they were 70 cents each, because now they're up to $1.50 each....sigh.

I do have my lovely "hausfrau" basket that I received from Bamberg's PEP (People Encouraging People) class (if they offer something similar to this in your area, I highly encourage you to take it, it's a wonderful way to learn about the culture and a bit of the language too!). I love that basket and use it here, though I get some odd looks. Of course, with the "go green" craze, the looks aren't quite so crazy anymore!

We used to run out of the plastic commissary bags because we used them for dirty diapers. But now that we have none in diapers, I alternate from paper to plastic (I use the paper to hold recyclables such as newspaper or cardboard)

September 24, 2008 at 3:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think I just found my perfect MIL gift!

September 24, 2008 at 7:57 PM  
Anonymous kirsten said...

Thanks for the links!

I've been using an assortment of reusable bags for a while now (commissary, trader joes, and harris teeter's metal handled one) and they live in my car so I don't get to the store and realize I've left them at home.

This change from disposables is hard for me, though, because I used my plastic grocery bags as trash bags! Yep, in the kitchen, bathroom, everywhere. It has always seemed silly to me to buy something that I would just throw away, and I've got no problem taking out the trash frequently, so I always used my plastic bags for trash.

Now I'm in a pickle because I still need a trash bag! Recycling and composting and cooking from scratch means I don't generate a ton of trash, but still . . .

September 26, 2008 at 3:18 PM  
Blogger ****Veteran Military Wife at Life Lessons of a Military Wife**** said...

I think it's fine to recycle those plastic bags as trash bags...I use them for that and dog poopy bags and don't think there is anything wrong with that! I just try to keep from getting excess of that stuff and when I do happen to have a larger stash, I'm sure to put it in the plastic recyling bin...Germany is just so far ahead of us on this.

September 30, 2008 at 9:17 AM  
Blogger Marine Wife said...

I only bought 4 of the commissary bags, but that is usually plenty. You can fit so much more in those bags than in a plastic bag that is bound to tear on you anyway. Occassionally, I will have bigger shopping trip that will require some plastic bags be used, but that is fine since I use them for the bathroom trash cans. But not getting them as often means they aren't overflowing my house like they used to. (I used them faster when the youngest was still in diapers, but once she potty trained, I just didn't need quite so many!)

September 30, 2008 at 11:18 PM  
Blogger dyceedo said...

I do have one of these collapsible ones like you are speaking of. Here's the funny part...I didn't buy one while living in Germany b/c they were so pricey...I just found mine recently at Marshalls here in the states for (drumroll...) $9.99!!! It's cute and works great - I can't figure out the difference in this one and the crazy expensive ones. I believe one of my friends in Ramstein said that they sometimes have them at Practiker (can't remember if that's the right spelling now...) for @ 10 euros.

October 1, 2008 at 1:05 AM  
Blogger Lucie Monroe said...

I got mine in Marshall's too!! I never thought of using it for groceries though, I use the reusable ones from the commissary for that, but that's gonna change.. :-)

May 26, 2010 at 4:24 AM  

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