May 18, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Our Love Affair with Shopping Bags

I admit, I have a plastic bin in a closet in my office that is filled with bags. The bags tell an interesting story of my shopping habits. Once a year I sort through the bags and toss the old ones and keep the ones that I think I will need for future use. On the eve of the deadline for this article, I decided that tonight was a great time to go through the bin of bags.

This is what I found:  One long garment bag from CAbi from a recent clothing party that I hosted. A Tumi bag from a purchase that I made in Philadelphia this past June where we ditched the historical walking tour of the city and decided to go shopping instead.I got a Tumi Carry on Tote for half price, a sturdy bag that I turned over to my husband for our summer travels.  A fabric Nicole Miller bag where I purchased an umbrella (on the same Philadelphia trip) using a gift card that I was given by a friend. Then there are the assorted shopping bags from our weekly Route 10 crawl to Joseph Banks, REI, Tempur-Pedic (technically not on Route 10 but close enough to the Livingston Circle), and Bed Bath and Beyond. 

I kept the Tumi shopping bag, it is so beautifully crafted, just like their luggage.  Perhaps next year I will be able to toss it but for now it’s a great memory of the weekend that we spent in Philadelphia. The Nicole Miller bag is gone as it was a cheap fabric bag that lacked character – the polar opposite of the leopard print umbrella that I purchased with the gift card at her store.  And I kept the CAbi garment bag for future travels by car.  It is a sweet reminder of a fun day at my home with friends looking at beautiful clothing and eating great food.

What is our fascination with our bags? For me they tell a story of fun shopping experiences.  They tell my history of how my taste has changed over the years. They also provide me with inspiration to let go of things that I don’t need, and where better to start than with the low-level shopping bag?

In 2007 when my sister and our respective husbands were helping my aunt and  uncle declutter their home to prepare it for market, I discovered a closet filled with Star Ledger bags filled with Star Ledger bags. Seriously, the entire closet was filled with bags inside of bags. When I started to toss the bags into a garbage bag, my aunt almost had a stroke. “What are you doing? I hide my jewelry in those bags!” I had to gather the troops and together we sorted through every bag in the closet. There was a safe in the attic and the jewelry was being stored in plastic bags just outside the kitchen. But who am I to judge? 

I see bags of bags everywhere I go. I have my bin of bags and truth be told I really don’t need 80 percent of them. When I began this article, I had a total of 41 bags in my bin. As I completed sorting through the bin, I am now down to 29, still too many but better. And most of us will accept better, since perfect is too high a bar to achieve. 

How did this exercise make me feel?  I bit sad – as I tossed shopping bags from stores that I no longer frequent (goodbye Brooks Brothers).  A bit relieved as I acknowledged yet again that the conservative dressed business woman period of my life is over.  I felt grateful that I was able to find a new career that brings me joy and fills my heart with love for every client that I work with.  These personal experiences of organizing my space provide me with an important reminder of how clients feel when they are parting with their stuff.  As you look around the clutter of your home, know that you are not alone. 

Happy Organizing!

By Eileen BergmanBy Eileen Bergman


Eileen Bergman is a Professional Organizer, a proud member of the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals (NAPO) and the Institute for Challenging Disorganization (ICD). Eileen is listed in the resource directory for the Hoarding Disorder Resource and Training Group.  Eileen may be reached at 973 303 3236 or [email protected]. 

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