The ‘Nice’ Way to Get Rid of the Tote Bags You Hate

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The holidays are a season of giving to others, but it’s also an opportunity to give a little something to yourself—that is, the freedom from your insurmountable pile of reusable totes. The thing is, no one else wants more totes, so you have to be sneaky-sweet about it. The best way is to present it as part of an otherwise generous gift.

I first started gifting totes because I needed extra packing material for the Christmas cookie tins I was shipping to friends and family. I was running low on paper bags and spotted my bag of bags. Perhaps you have one of these too: a reusable tote bag full of simply more reusable tote bags. I have my favorites, but the rest just take up space. Maybe some of them are even lovely and sturdy, but sadly, never used. It turns out, though, that they do keep cookie tins from sliding around. Neatly folded, or bundled around the main present, they looked like part of the package, and provided a buffer when getting tossed around. Use them to help ship any Christmas parcels this year—hopefully to a more loving home. If the recipient decides to throw it out, then they’re the monster who hates the planet, not you. While this is most convincingly done with “nice” looking reusable bags, you can do it with the shoddy corner store ones too. I’m clearly not here to judge.

If you still have more totes, use them to pack anything you’re bringing to holiday events. When you head out to any holiday parties, work potlucks, or New Year’s Eve celebrations in the next few weeks, seize the opportunity. Bring the wine, booze, food contributions, a bag of ice, whatever it is, and transport it in a tote you hate. The same goes for if you’re traveling to see family with presents on Christmas Eve and Christmas day. Pack all of the wrapped gifts in those big Ikea bags. Arrive at the shindig and thoughtfully present your donation to the host. Don’t pull out the contents, just graciously hand over the entire bag. Party hosts, don’t despair: You can get rid of your excess totes too. Use them to pack up leftovers to send home with guests. Your drunk friends (and their sober drivers) will love you for it.

Do you normally run cookies or cakes over to your neighbors for holiday cheer? You know what to do. To put a little extra polish on any tote, wrap a ribbon around the handles. To sell it even more, tie a gift tag around the handles too. Writing the host’s name on it seals the deal. That is your tote bag now, friend! With some consistency, you should be able to shake your holiday tote weight before Jan. 1. Then you can start the new year fresh with just a few of your favorite reusable bags to hold you over until, inevitably, you acquire 10-20 more, and the (re)cycle begins again.

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