reusable bags for groceries

Skip the plastic, single-use bags – and go a little greener.

I no longer feel guilty when I grocery shop. I have a system for using several varieties of reusable shopping and produce bags – and I almost never take a single-use, disposable plastic bag. I have evolved beyond the motley collection of repurposed shopping bags I had accumulated. Here are some considerations when buying reusable bags.

  • Bags should be lightweight and fold into a small package so that you don’t mind keeping them in your car or handbag.
  • They MUST be washable.
  • They should be sturdy enough to hold at least 50 lbs. without tearing.
  • Ideally, bags should be made from organic, recyclable material.
  • The perfect grocery bag would have a flat bottom and stand up so it doesn’t flop over when you load it.
  • Having one insulated bag will keep ice-cream frozen and fish fresh on your way home.

I like to use several bags together. The primary bag should stand up by itself and ideally will be insulated. It should have a pocket which will hold your light-weight, foldable, washable grocery bags and your produce bags. You will want reusable produce bags so that you can walk right by those rolls of disposable plastic bags in the produce aisle. Here are some choices.

This durable LL Bean long handled, medium tote can be spot cleaned. It does not have an inside pocket, so your other bags will need to rest inside. 15″H x 17″W x 7″D. It comes with trim in 15 colors and can be personalized with a monogram, $34.95.

The Organic Reusable Cotton Washable & Eco-friendly shopping bags stand up pretty well in your cart and they have six interior bottle sleeves to keep glass bottles from hitting each other. You can keep your extra shopping bags and produce bags in the inside one pocket. 14.5” tall x 13: wide x 8” deep. Organic Reusable Cotton Washable shopping bags. $28 for three bags.

Yeti makes the ultimate bags for shopping – and most other adventures. The Camino Carryall 35 is 9 7/8” X 14 7/8” X 18 1/8”. The open top makes it easy to load. It is tough enough for fishing tackle, so it will stand up to the trunk of your car and grocery carts. It is waterproof and can be hosed down and washed out thoroughly. It has an inside pocket to store the rest of your bags. It comes in four color ways. Camino Carryall 35. $149.99

The Yeti Hopper Two 30 is a top of the line, insulated bag. Tough, washable surfaces, waterproof – and cool. This is a true, luxury bag. 12” x 18” x 25”. The two downsides are that the bag weighs 5.5 lbs. before you fill it and it is expensive. To justify the cost, consider whether you would use this for picnics and outdoor adventures. The Yeti Hopper Two 30 is a top of the line, insulated bag. $299.99.

The Arctic Zone Jumbo Thermal Insulated Tote is sort of like the Yeti Hopper at a fraction of the cost. I don’t think it is as durable and nor does it look like it will get as thoroughly clean. It comes in four colors. 22.2 x 17.8 x 7.5 inches. Arctic Zone Jumbo Thermal Insulated Tote. $21.99.


These reusable heavy-duty Bee Green grocery bags fold into almost nothing and hold the same amount as two single use grocery bags. They do not stand up by themselves, so I keep them in my primary bag and use them as second and third bags for big shopping loads. They are machine washable and come with a one year, no rip guarantee. The handles are wide enough to be comfortable even when carrying a heavy load. 15” x 25” x 6” and hold 50 lbs. There are lots of colors and patterns. Package of five reusable shopping bags, $13.99.

This Baggu Reusable Ripstop Nylon Shopping Bag is washable, holds up to 50 lbs. and is attractive. 18″ wide, 33″ high, 9″ deep. Folds into a zippered 7″ by 7″ pouch. Baggu Reusable Shopping Bag $14 per bag or at Baggu.

Note on ripstop nylon: You can’t always get what you want and while the ripstop nylon bags are not purely natural and organic, they are made of cotton, silk, polyester, polypropylene and nylon. They are light and strong (think of spinnakers and hot air balloons).


This BAGGU Cotton Duck Bag Canvas Tote, Essential Everyday Tote is made of durable recycled cotton canvas duck. It has two handles and a 40-inch adjustable strap, to carry in hand or over shoulder. It is machine washable. With a flat bottom, it is heavier, but easier to load than the ripstop nylon bags. 16 inches high, 10 inches wide, 5.5 inches deep. Cotton Duck Canvas Tote. $32

This reusable, single strap bag works over a shoulder or slung across the body. It fits into its own pouch with a carabiner. It is a feel-good bag – made from 100% post-consumer recycled plastic bottles. It is machine washable, but smaller than the other bags, holding up top 40 lbs.   The ChicoBag Sling comes black, green and ocean blue. 14” high x 15” wide x 3.5”.   $14.99.

Here are some options to replace those single use plastic bags in the vegetable and fruit aisles at the grocery store.

These organic cotton mesh vegetable bags have a drawstring with a wooden bead to pull them tight. They are strong and washable. For vegetables you weigh, the label clearly states the tare weight of the bag. This can be deducted from the total weight at checkout, so you only pay for the weight of your produce, not the bag. Set of seven Sandstone & Sage organic mesh biodegradable drawstring bags – 3 small, 2 medium, 2 large. $20.49.

These Earthwise reusable mesh produce bags are see-through and bar code readers can scan right through the mesh. The bags are washable, and you can rinse fruit and vegetables right in the bag at home and air dry them. They weigh less than one third of an ounce, so you don’t need to worry about the bag being weighed with your produce. They are BPA free. These bags are made from a fine polyester mesh. They are not biodegradable, but they are 100% recyclable.

11” x 13.5”. Set of nine reusable see-through mesh produce bags, $13.97.

Reusable Mesh/Produce Bags with draw string tops, set of 9 bags in small, medium and large. Made of mesh polyester. This set includes 9 mesh bags, made up of 2 small 12x8in, 5 medium or large 12x14in, and 2 extra-large 12x17in. 15.97

Here are some other ideas from ASE for your ‘green’ kitchen.

Large corporations and startups are coming up with new packaging and food storage options.

Break The Plastic Habit With Re-Usable Food Wrap