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Buying groceries in modern times consists in:

  1. Putting the thing in a thin plastic bag
  2. Place it in an electronic scale
  3. Print a label with the price and a bar code.
  4. Stick it to the plastic bag

I want to figure out a way of removing the label from each bag after bringing them home, so that next time I go the market I can use the same plastic bag instead of having a new one each time I want to buy something — as that plastic will probably end up in the ocean.

The issue is, most combinations of plastic bag + sticky label seem to be pretty much inseparable, and even careful and patient attempts to remove the label cause the bag to tear with the label.

What are good hacks to remove the sticker from those bags?

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    have you considered to place the new label over the old one?
    – fred_dot_u
    Dec 13, 2022 at 1:40
  • @fred_dot_u: This idea is workable, but some employees might get excessively cautions seeing labels stacked, so that would mean there will be some opportunity for "discomfort" during scanning and paying.
    – virolino
    Dec 13, 2022 at 7:17
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    Would be worth adding why you want to do such a thing. I can only assume that out of caring for nature, to not litter it with extra plastic. Anyhow, the only real option is to convince the markets to use paper bags instead, for this you'll have to support political parties having it as part of their agenda. Good luck! :) Dec 13, 2022 at 8:55
  • @fred_dot_u Yes, exactly, employees who attach the label often get confused or even suspect you are trying to trick the store (e.g. paying a lower price by having a lower priced label).
    – LoremIpsum
    Dec 13, 2022 at 13:33
  • @ShadowTheKidWizard, there you go. Thanks for the suggestion, but paper bags are not ideal either, the best would be really to have a way to re use the recipient, whatever it is.
    – LoremIpsum
    Dec 13, 2022 at 13:35

3 Answers 3

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Besides taking care to not stick the label very well (try to stick only a corner, if possible, but you need to be careful to not lose it before paying), I don't have any other idea for the flimsy bags. They are just not meant to be reusable.

But since nobody mentioned it yet: the best alternative is to buy (or make) some cloth/mesh reusable bags.

Reusable fruit bags

In my European country, after the ban on plastic bags and mandatory paying for the flimsy bio-degradable ones, many supermarkets offer the option to buy once mesh reusable bags that you can wash; some have a tag in a corner where you can stick the label, but if not, there's no problem to remove a sticker label from them.

Reusable bag with a tag

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  • Are you aware that you pay money every time you use that reusable bag? If you buy apples, it has the price of apples. If you buy bananas, it has the price of bananas. And so on. Just put a bag on a counter, with nothing inside, and see for yourself. Than multiply that weight with the price of whatever you buy, and multiply it with how often you go shopping. You will find the real price of using that bag. Additionally to what you pay when you buy it. Even the "flimsy" stupid thin bags have the ability to trigger the counters (showing 5 grams when they do). And your bag is in another league.
    – virolino
    Dec 15, 2022 at 10:09
  • Well, you're technically right, but the mesh is very light; maybe you can just weigh them before putting them in the bag if you are so concerned about that? Here this is not a concern because the supermarkets have an option on the counter, so you tell it if the produce is without a bag, in a bio-degradable bag or in a reusable one.
    – Adinia
    Dec 15, 2022 at 10:15
  • "very light" means nothing. Just put it on a scale to see the real truth. They cannot be lighter than the "flimsy" bags. Also, do not assume that all scales in all supermarkets in the whole world have cute features like the one you visit. They usually don't. Actually, I still never saw such scales.
    – virolino
    Dec 15, 2022 at 10:19
  • "very light" - did you look at the string that closes the mouth of the bag? Just that string has enough plastic for at least 3 or 4 "flimsy" bags (my own rough estimation). Just saying.
    – virolino
    Dec 15, 2022 at 10:20
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    @virolino please don’t talk down users. Just because you have never seen a certain type of scale doesn’t mean that they aren’t wide-spread elsewhere. I could mention at least three different chains (basically all I go to) in my region that allow customers to either preselect a bag type (-> adjust tare) or tare directly. That nixes the “pay a lot extra”. Plus, there’s now a mandatory small fee for the flimsy bags, that will mean that at some point the initial investment in reusable bags evens out or is even cheaper, depending on the number of uses.
    – Stephie
    Dec 16, 2022 at 10:06
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As for removing labels from these bags, I’m afraid I must agree with other writers here - apart from label-stacking or painting over the bar code with a sharpie, there’s little you can do, the glue bond between label and bag is just so much sturdier than the bags themselves.

I haven’t used any of these flimsy bags in quite some time - but I am from a country where they are “questionable” (yay environmentalist parties) and stores must offer alternatives, either paper or reusable bags (scales with a tare function help).

That said, even before I got creative. My favorite method was to weight the items, place them in an old fashioned wicker basked and lightly stick the labels next to another either on the rim or the handle. Cashiers could easily check the contents of the basket (if items were placed in orderly clusters and not stacked), compare them to the stickers and run one sticker after the next over the scanner. I especially love that in combination with the self-checkout via smartphone scanner, because the produce gets handled less (just goes into the basket at the shop and in the fridge at home) and is packed properly and safely.

Caveat: This doesn’t work at self-checkout stations with scales, just saying. For those I have reusable bags or you could repurpose the flimsy ones, because there won’t be a cashier wondering about the stacks of labels.

Technically you will be paying just a tiny amount of extra money for the old labels (extra weight).

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  • Cashiers would suspect that person in my culture :(
    – LoremIpsum
    Dec 14, 2022 at 21:20
  • In some supermarkets, cashiers MUST check the kg count with their "own" scale, whic make this method useless. Also useless when the weighing is done only by the cashier - so no labels at all.
    – virolino
    Dec 15, 2022 at 10:14
  • @virolino different countries, different rules. In the latter case, I have no qualms to hand them either five loose potatoes or an unlabeled (=> reusable!) bag and the sticker separately (they can still check what the sticker says vs. their own scale). I can be stubborn when it comes to being green. That said, that’s one reason (of many) why I favor my local farmers market.
    – Stephie
    Dec 15, 2022 at 15:40
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In order to remove the label from the bag, the bag must be made from a material strong enough to resist the ripping forces. The free bags for vegetables in the shops (they are the ones which usually get labels) are made for the sole purpose to be cheap, so your task is doomed from the beginning. Please remember that those bags have such a low quality that they rip even before you finish adding the vegetables. Sometimes they get destroyed as soon as you want to "separate" them from the other bags on the roll - so even before you start adding vegetables.

If you want to reuse those bags, here are some ideas:

  • add the label to the vegetables, not to the bag - if the vegetables support that; potatoes are OK, lettuce is not much OK;
  • use the bags with labels as trash bags for smaller items.

Occasionally, I do not use a bag at all, e.g. for bananas, watermelons (if they are clean), "items" from which I buy only one piece etc. In these cases, the label goes directly to the item.


An alternative solution is to shop at the places where the only weighing is done by the cashier, or by self-checkout. In these cases, there are no labels at all.

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  • Yes, good suggestions, I do that too for items that are "unary" such as watermelons and bananas, but potatoes? Not possible.
    – LoremIpsum
    Dec 13, 2022 at 13:36
  • I did not claim that anyone should label poppy seeds individually. I just provided the most reasonable answer I had ;)
    – virolino
    Dec 13, 2022 at 14:01
  • Disagree - just place the potatoes on the scale, weigh, then place them in your basket. Label goes either on one potato or somewhere else.
    – Stephie
    Dec 13, 2022 at 15:01
  • @Stephie: normally, it should be OK, but supermarkets prefer to check that the customer is honest, and they use their own scale during scanning. I do not blame them. It was a good deal in the past, when you (or the clerk) put the potatoes on the scale (both you and the clerk watching at the same time), and then directly in your bag. No plastic bags, no double-weighing, no terrible hassle. But times are different now.
    – virolino
    Dec 14, 2022 at 7:04
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    Here they have changed to weighing the fruit/veg at the cash, no double weighing and so on. Before that I often added the label for the fruit onto an item which had packaging which would be discarded, and the people checking out never made a problem of that. The fruit and veggies would often go unpackaged.
    – Willeke
    Dec 15, 2022 at 20:49

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