A Guide to Eco Friendly Reusable Grocery & Shopping Bags

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On average a plastic bag is used for just 12 minutes before it is thrown out and it is estimated that less than 3% of all plastic bags get recycled. With 2 million plastic bags being used every minute globally the use of plastic bags has a huge impact on our environment and oceans. More and more countries are implementing bans on the use of single use plastic bags and many people are choosing to take their own reusable bags or green bags when shopping.

In this blog we will outline some of the alternatives to plastic bags and what to consider when choosing a reusable grocery bag.

Recycled Paper Shopping Bags

Recycled paper bags are typically made from 100% recycled paper and are recyclable and biodegradable. They are an environmentally friendly option which is both eco friendly and reusable. Using recycled and recyclable products diverts waste from entering landfill and reduces

Recycled paper shopping bags are typically kraft brown and may have carry handles or may be more like sandwich bags suitable for lunch boxes. They are affordable, take up limited space and are easy to use in the grocery shop or as bread bags.

Pros

  • Eco Friendly
  • Easy to use
  • 100% recycled materials
  • Reduce landfill rubbish
  • Saves the demand for virgin materials

Cons

  • Water and other liquids can damage the bag
  • Bags which are reinforced may be prone to breakage if not carried correctly
  • Will not last as long as a fabric bag
  • Not ideal for large or heavy items

Cotton Tote Bags

Cotton tote bags come in different variations, such as organic cotton mesh and reclaimed cotton. Organic cotton is grown without the use of pesticides. Recycled cotton consists of traditional and organic cotton scrap or cut offs that would otherwise end up in landfill. Reclaimed cotton can be spun into new yarn for cotton tote bags and reusable produce shopping bags.

Cotton reusable bags are lightweight and depending on the density of the thread they can also be very strong making them great fabric shopping bags.

Pros

  • Strong and durable
  • Versatile can be used for all types of shopping
  • Renewable resource
  • Soft and pleasant to the touch
  • Machine washable
  • Biodegradable at the end of its life
  • Available in a range of colours and handle lengths
  • Stylish

Cons

  • Can shrink and wrinkle when washed
  • Mesh bags may be damaged by sharp or pointy goods
  • A lot of water is required to grow cotton

Recycled Plastic Mesh Bags

Recycled plastic mesh bags are made from RPET which is recycled plastic. Reusable Mesh produce bags made from recycled PET help to save the environment by diverting the amount of plastic bottles entering landfill. Lightweight but super strong, you can pack your bags set down into the storage pouch and easily keep them in your car or handbag. They keep your produce, such as fruit, herbs, and vegetables fresh. This is because air flows through the mesh allowing your fruits and veggies to breathe. The bags are also perfect for bulk goods such as nuts and grains.

Pros

  • You can see the contents of the bag
  •  Keeps your produce fresh
  • Lightweight and strong
  • Durable and long lasting
  • Can be used as storage bags for food or household items
  • Machine washable
  • Use of RPET reduces waste entering landfill

Cons

  • Microplastics may be created when washing RPET bags

Silicone Food Bags

The best reusable bags for food storage you can buy are silicone food bags or pouches. Made from food-grade silicone, they contain no BPA, phthalates, or petroleum. They are also plastic and latex-free. Perfect for refrigerating or freezing your food, the silicone freezer bags keep your food fresh, reducing food waste.

At the grocery store, you can pack your food into the airtight silicone food bags ready for refrigeration once you arrive home. You can also use the silicone freezer bags to save your leftovers for lunch at work.

Pros

  • Reusable and durable
  • Freezer safe, dishwasher safe
  • BPA and Phthalate free
  • Sturdy and multifunctional

Cons

  • Limited range of sizes available
  • Some of the bags can stick together when new
  • Expensive

Reusable Canvas Bags

One of the best produce bags for shopping fruit, veggies, and herbs is a canvas tote bag. Canvas is a fabric commonly made from a blend of cotton, linen, hemp and sometimes PVC. Unlike pure cotton, canvas fabric has a different weaving pattern which makes it much stronger and more durable. The good news is, reusable canvas bags are strong and ideal for bulky or heavy items. You can also find cotton muslin bags which are a type of canvas bag perfect for bulk food items and bread. 

Pros

  • Strong and durable
  • Supports bulky items
  • Biodegradable
  • Stylish
  • Easy to use
  • Come in a range of designed, styles and shapes

Cons

  • If untreated, canvas bags cannot resist dirt, moisture, or stains

Final Thoughts

When choosing reusable shopping bags, it's important to consider the weight and size of bags you will need. When looking to reduce your consumption of plastic bags you may need larger bags for bread bags or bulky supermarket items, and smaller mesh bags for nuts, seeds, fruit and vegetables.

If shopping for heavy items, we recommend canvas, cotton, and RPET mesh bags. Paper bags are better to use in lunch boxes, for small snack items and lighter items such as nuts or baked goods.

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