Getting used to new habits takes a little time and practice. Keep your reusable bags in the car and invest in a small, collapsible bag that can be attached to your keychain for quick shopping trips. If you don't have a lot of items, you could try going "bagless" and carry your items to the car in your cart or arms.
According to a life cycle assessment conducted by California State University Chico, reusable bags made from recycled polyethylene have a lower environmental footprint than plastic bags after as few as eight uses. They use 50% less energy, have a 40% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and use of solid waste disposal capacity, and use 30% less water than a single-use plastic bag.
Even when you use reusable bags for groceries, you will accumulate some bags from other sources - produce bags, bread bags, tortilla bags, newspaper bags, etc. These are great for pet waste. Try going without a trash can liner. You can rinse your trash can periodically. This is a great option if you recycle your food waste. If “going without” is not feasible, recyclable trash can liners are also available for purchase at reasonable prices.
According to a 2011 CalRecycle report on plastic bag recycling collected in California stores, plastic carryout bags were recycled at a 3% rate in 2009. Despite establishing a statewide infrastructure for plastic bag recycling, recycling efforts have largely failed. Curbside recycling is not a viable option for plastic bags because they clog the sorting machines at the recycling facility, causing major delays, wear and tear on the equipment, and increased costs.
There are no credible studies making a connection between reusable bags and foodborne illness. Commonly-quoted studies contain numerous flaws. One study simply shows that the same array of everyday bacteria found on our hands, clothes, and around our homes, can also be found on reusable bags. Another study never makes the connection between people who use reusable bags and people who become ill with foodborne illness. Using common sense, washing your hands, and washing bags when they get dirty, virtually eliminates any risk of illness.