I Finally Figured Out What to Do with the 400 Canvas Tote Bags in My Closet

where to donate your reusable tote bags

At this point, I pretty much consider myself a pro when it comes to Marie Kondo-ing my closet, paperwork, even my holiday decorations. But I recently came across one tricky item I wasn’t entirely sure how to organize and dispose of: canvas tote bags.

It seems as though every store has been slowly replacing traditional shopping bags with these reusable alternatives, and almost every event I’ve attended through work for the past two years has left me with yet another simple tote. All in all, I counted 28 canvas tote bags stuffed into one mega tote bag hanging by my front door (you know, so I could conveniently grab some on my way to the grocery store).

Following the advice of the ever-wise Kondo, I determined that realistically no one needs more than four of five of these carryalls and set out to determine which ones I would keep and which I would toss. This was no problem at all. The problem was figuring out what to do with the 23 bags I’d rejected.

Despite the fact that most of the reusable bags you pick up from stores are made from recyclable materials, they aren’t themselves recyclable. Charities that recycle fabric pieces (like sheets, T-shirts and the like) wouldn’t take them; no one on Poshmark was going to want my second-hand tote from a press event last August.

Then I found ChicoBag, a California-based charity that works to reduce the number of plastic bags that end up in landfills by recycling the material to create new long-lasting reusable bags. In addition, it'll take all your reusable bags (canvas, plastic and whatever else you’ve got) and redistribute them to fixed and low-income families ready to start a reusable bag habit, or recycle them into new, useful products through partnerships with artists, crafters and nonprofit organizations. Basically, it gives your newly Kondo’ed bags a second chance at life.

All you have to do is pack your bags into a box, attached a label with the company’s address (ChicoBag Company C/O Zero Waste Program, 747 Fortress Street, Chico, CA 95973), and off they’ll go. (Note that you will have to pay shipping.)

Buh-bye, clutter. Hello, front door knob.

Learn More

Abby Hepworth


Abby Hepworth is an RRCA-certified running coach who has worked in fashion for over 10 years. Want to know what shoes are in this season? She's got you. Need recommendations on...
read full bio