I always have to giggle a little when I hear the complaints about having to pay 5 cents for a paper bag in some cities here. In the Netherlands, you have to pay for your bags at the grocery store and it’s more than just a few cents, but at least you get a sturdy plastic bag you can use a few more times. And if you spend upwards of 30 cents on that bag, trust me, you use it until it has more holes than your underwear and you’re forced to buy another. That’s the Dutch way. We always had a collection of reusable bags laying around the house in the entry way or the pantry closet in a slip slidey pile or some cluttering the trunk of the car. What I found to be really handy were these collapsible crates that were not only useful for shopping, but for storing things in the closet, for packing things in the trunk, and packing for vacations where we had to bring our own supplies for the rental home. When you’re not using them, they easily fold up and store away without any mess. I brought two crates over in our shipping container when we moved and used them sparingly for fear they would break. One finally did and I’ve been rationing the use of the last one.
One day I was in Costco and they had InstaCrates Collapsible Storage Containers on sale. These 12 gallon folding containers are slightly larger than the Dutch one I have (how American), and they stack one of top of another so your groceries don’t get squished and they don’t slide and tip over on fast corners. I get lots of compliments on them from the store employees and other shoppers about how handy they are. The produce manager even took me back into the store room to show me that they used the same type product for their shipments and was amazed I was using something similar.
You can see the difference it makes in my trunk too. (p.s. don’t judge me by the concrete dust that poofed out all over the trunk the other day). The bag on the left is a large reusable shopping bag I have from the Albert Heijn and then all the loose stuff rolling around next to it. On the right is the InstaCrate with half a shopping cart worth of groceries in it.
When I’m at the store, I just pop one up in the cart and fill it as I shop. When one fills up, I stack the second on top and keep going. If I only fill one crate, I’ll take the second and stand at the end of the conveyor belt and as the groceries come down, I box them back up. Maybe it’s just me, but I like to pack my groceries my way 🙂 At home I only have to make a trip or two from the car to the kitchen and put them on the counter to unload. When they’re empty, they get folded back up and we’re ready to go. And best of all, no unnecessary plastic or paper bags to deal with. Those are a mess to store if I wanted to keep them, and a shame to throw away or recycle without repurposing. My days of knitting plastic bags are over.
Here are some other ways I use these crates:
- To hold muddy shoes in the trunk of the car after a hike. It contains the mess and you can hose out the crate to clean up. Much easier than washing out a trunk. You know, because I do that every week and all.
- Transport all my outdoor clothing (wet or dry) for outdoor school. Then it’s not touching or leaking onto other stuff.
- For packing camping supplies, bringing them out to the trailer, and storing under the trailer once at the campsite.
- Holding potted plants so they don’t tip over in the trunk.
- Containing winter car supplies like chains and emergency blankets.
- Carrying all the Christmas presents to Grandma’s house. I’ll sort one box for Grandma W and one box for Grandma R and start filling them as I wrap the gifts.
- Packing everything for a picnic in and then carrying it all to the picnic table at once.
- To keep all that random trunk junk from rolling around.
- And my favorite, shoving all the mess into and hiding it in the closet when you get a last minute guest and need to clean your house as they walk up the driveway.
So yeah, I’d say these InstaCrates Collapsible Storage Containers are worth the investment. I don’t need paper bags or plastic bags at the store anymore, the crates fold up nicer than the resuable bags for storing, and they can be used in so many ways. If you see them at your local Costco, try and snag a couple before they are gone.