Our grocery store (co-op) is stopping plastic bags as of Earth Day (next week). They will have a bag tree where people can borrow bags if they forget one, and they already have a good system for storing boxes so people can use them for groceries.
They have a US-made supplier of canvas bags that they're selling very cheap, $4.99/bag regular and $3.99/bag special this month. I have picked up a bunch of canvas bags at yardsales, etc, which I've been using for years.
I can't bring myself to ask for a new paper bag at our co-op anymore. LOL. Which makes it difficult for me because I use them for recycling (over and over, but eventually they break). I need a paper-bag-sized permanent solution for my recycling - I was even toying with the idea of buying a half-dozen plastic wastebaskets to use over and over instead of paper grocery bags. I'm not sure I want to "invest in" new plastic, though.
What is an (environmentally conscious) girl to do?
Count me among those who think they should charge you to use a bag. I think that sends a much stronger message, and is more appropriate, than rewarding people for using cloth. The cashiers never remember to credit my cloth because I'm still bagging when I'm done paying.
When I lived in Finland 15 years ago, everyone used reusable bags. They charged for new bags in the store. It was the first I'd ever encountered that. They had these wonderful nylon bags that fold very small and the bottom folds in half like a little leatherette purse and zips shut around the bag, so you have a wallet-sized thing to carry around that zips open to grocery-bag sized. Very smart. Wish we could get them here.