(Photo by: green.georgetown.org; All photos in post by Andrea)
Going green is a great way to not only help the earth, cut down on waste and cost but it also helps to make your life easier. As a study abroad student, finding things that are re-usable and have multiple purposes can help keep your temporary home abroad clutter free and easy to manage. Recyclable bags are a great example of how being eco-friendly has more than one use for your study abroad. Let’s take a look at 4 ways you can use (re-use) recyclable bags for your experience abroad.
1) Laundry: No matter what your living arrangement is abroad, chances are you’ll have to use some form of a laundromat be it a public one or in a dorm. Traveling with a hamper isn’t very practical so the best way to transport your laundry is with recyclable bags. When packing them in your checked bag, make sure to include a couple of big ones (think large mesh beach bags) for things such as sheets or a heavy load of clothes. It’s also a good idea to bring recyclable bags that are not transparent. Many cultures are not fond of doing laundry in public (I know the French view one’s soiled linens as a private matter) so it would be a major cultural faux pas to share the color of your undies through your bag with the host city en route to the laundromat. Does the thought of re-using the same bag for transporting dirty laundry and food sound nasty? No worries! Just throw the bags in with your laundry (don’t forget to dry them!) and then transport the clean clothes and bags back home for use with something else.
(Don’t forget to bring the detergent with you!)
2) Food Shopping: France recently passed a law against stores carrying plastic bags which means that shoppers need to bring their own bags (Check out this article on it http://www.dw.de/french-government-bans-plastic-bags-from-supermarkets/a-17738789). Recyclable grocery bags are extremely useful for food shopping- they’re a lot sturdier and can hold more items than plastic or paper bags. Most people in other countries don’t food shop for 2 weeks at a time like in the USA so you’ll only need to bring a few bags (think 2-4 tops) for your grocery trip.
(See how much you can fit into 1 bag- which is my favorite Paris metro map bag.)
3) Storage: Study abroad accommodations are notoriously small (especially in Europe) so maximizing storage space is a must. Recyclable bags are great way to store clothes, under garments and sheets without taking up much space. Don’t have a closet in your room abroad? Hang a bag (or 2) on the bed post to hold sheets, PJs, and other clothes. Even if you have a closet in your room abroad, it’s not going to be like the one you’re used to in the USA. Using those few hangers like was mentioned in this How to Pack for Studying Abroad Video, you can hang the recyclable bags from the hangers in the closet with each bag holding the same style of clothes (ex: 1 bag holds tees, 1 bag holds pants …) to help maximize space and at a low cost. Remember your study abroad arrangements are temporary and it is not cost effective to invest in any sort of room/closet organizational system.
(Hang the bags in your closet for storage…)
(Or on your bed post)
4) General Shopping: We know that recyclable bags can be used for food shopping but did you know that they’re great for general shopping, too? Keep a few in your bag –they’re easy to roll up and fit into any size be it a purse or a back pack- so that you’ll always be prepared for that impromptu shopping excursion.
Due to high sales tax abroad (for Paris, it’s now up to 20%!), I recommend to buy recyclable bags here in the USA from any dollar store or large grocer. Eight bags should be more than plenty for your time abroad. Can you think of other uses for recyclable bags? Tweet it to me @twentyinparis for a mention in this post!