Our awareness of how much damage plastic bags are doing to the environment is only growing. Just 1% of our plastic bags are recycled every year and it can take as long as 1000 years for these plastic bags to breakdown in landfill.Although the manufacture of reusable grocery bags does still have an impact on the environment, it can be much less than single use plastics, and some reusable bags are made from recycled or natural materials. In this article, we take a look at the main types of reusable grocery bag available and review a selection to assist you in choosing the best reusable grocery bags for your shopping needs.
Able to hold 30 lbs. in weight, the Creative Green Life reusable grocery bags are our best pick with rigid walls and bases for easy grocery loading and unloading.
The lightweight BeeGreen reusable grocery bags are our budget pick for being able to hold up to 50 lbs. in weight and for easy folding away after use.
Table of Contents
- Quick Comparison: Top 10 Best Reusable Grocery Bags
- 1. Creative Green Life Reusable Grocery Bags
- 2. BeeGreen Reusable Grocery Bags
- 3. Earthwise Reusable Grocery Bags
- 4. Household Essentials Reusable Grocery Bag
- 5. NZ Home Insulated Grocery Bags
- 6. KELZ KIDZ Heavy Duty Canvas Grocery Bags
- 7. Hotshine Reusable Cotton Mesh Grocery Bags
- 8. BagPodz Reusable Grocery Bag System
- 9. BeeGreen Extra Large Reusable Grocery Bags
- 10. Earthwise Large Insulated Grocery Bags
- Things to Consider Before Buying Reusable Grocery Bags
Quick Comparison: Top 10 Best Reusable Grocery Bags
1. Creative Green Life Reusable Grocery Bags
The large capacity Creative Green Life reusable grocery bags can hold 30 lbs. upwards in weight. Made from premium non-woven fabric with rigid walls and a rigid base which folds to allow you to fold and store when not in use. Measuring 13" by 11" by 10", these bags are also designed to stand open making it easy to load and unload groceries, as well as there being less risk of the bags falling over when in the trunk.The handles are also riveted for extra strength, and coming as a set of three bags, there are different colors available. Some owners consider these are on the smaller side of reusable bags and the odd buyer has found that they may not last as long as expected compared to other heavier duty reusable bags.
2. BeeGreen Reusable Grocery Bags
The set of five BeeGreen reusable grocery bags are made from 100% rip stop polyester cloth which is lightweight, rip resistant and sturdy. These bags have an integrated square pouch which the bag folds into after use for easy storage. Available in a range of colors, these extra large bags measure 15" wide by 16" high with a 6" squared base and can hold up to 50 lbs. in weight.These also come with a one year limited warranty and can be cleaned on a cold wash in the machine and line dried. A small number of buyers have experienced damage to the seams or holes developing after just a few uses and if you plan on carrying these in your purse or pocket you may find them a little bulky, even when folded down!
3. Earthwise Reusable Grocery Bags
The box-style Earthwise deluxe collapsible reusable grocery bags are constructed with four hard sides and a foldable hard bottom insert. The design allows these bags to stay open when loading and unloading groceries and they can then be folded flat for storage. They can also be popped in your grocery cart while shopping. The long shoulder strap and side handles are sewn into the bag and riveted for extra security.
The bags are made from heavy duty non-woven polypropylene and recycled cardboard, measuring 10" high by 14.5" wide and 10" deep, they have a capacity of 4 gallons. Some owners have commented that the bags can soon start to show wear at the bottom and others have commented that these bags do have an odor to them. You may also find that these will not last as long as you may expect them to.
4. Household Essentials Reusable Grocery Bag
Made from canvas, the Household Essentials reusable grocery bag is able to fold flat to store when not in use. This bag also has a water resistant vinyl lining, making it easier to clean up any spills. This measures 13" high, by 22" wide and 11" deep.Some buyers have been disappointed to find that there is no rigid support on the bottom of this bag and although it has a wire frame around the top of the bag, the walls are not supported, so, depending on what is packed in it, it may not stand upright.
5. NZ Home Insulated Grocery Bags
The NZ Home insulated grocery bags are available in a variety of colors. Made from thick and extra strength thermal materials including an aluminum inner insulation layer, these are ideal for carrying hot or cold foods, as well as heavier groceries. With a capacity of up to 45 lbs. these measure 13" by 14" by 8".These bags can be wiped down or gently hand washed to keep them clean and they contain sidewalls to keep the bag upright when loading and unloading groceries. There is a risk of the zipper closure failing quite soon after purchase and a small number of buyers have experienced one of the handles breaking on first use.
6. KELZ KIDZ Heavy Duty Canvas Grocery Bags
The six pack of heavy duty canvas grocery bags measure 15" by 14" by 4" and are made from 10 oz fabric made from 80% natural cotton and 20% polyester. These black bags use heavyweight stitching and cross-stitching on the handles for strength.
These bags are also wrinkle resistant and can be washed in the machine and come with a satisfaction guarantee from the manufacturer. Some recent buyers have been disappointed with the odor of these bags and others have commented that they were not as heavy duty as they were expecting. There is also a small risk of some of the seams starting to unravel.
7. Hotshine Reusable Cotton Mesh Grocery Bags
Made from 100% cotton, the cotton mesh grocery bags come as a pack of five bags that expand and can hold up to 40 lbs. of weight. These lightweight bags have built in tote handles and are fully machine washable. The odd buyer has received defective bags and there is some confusion as to whether the bags should have short or longer handles so they can be carried on your shoulder. These bags can also arrive in plastic packaging!
8. BagPodz Reusable Grocery Bag System
The BagPodz reusable grocery bag system contains ten reusable bags in a pod system. To use the bags, you pull out one bag at a time from the pod and then after you have emptied your groceries, you just open the drawstring end of the pod and stuff the balled up bags back in one at a time and then pull the drawstring closed. The pod also contains a clip so you can clip it onto the cart when shopping.
Available in a selection of colors, the handled bags measure 12" by 12" by 5" and can take up to 50 lbs. in weight. The bags are also water repellent, tough and machine washable and the system is made with Bluesign certified material which is eco-friendly, low impact and sustainably produced.The odd buyer has been disappointed with the size of these bags, considering them too small for larger grocery shops and the odd bag may have some weakness on one or more of its seams. These also just have hand handles, so you are unable to carry them over your shoulder.
9. BeeGreen Extra Large Reusable Grocery Bags
The ten pack of BeeGreen extra large reusable grocery bags measure 14.2" wide by 27.5" long and 4.7" deep and can hold up to 50 lbs. in weight. These assorted colored bags store in a small bag with a zipper closure so you can carry it around with you. The carry handles are double layered and have reinforced bias tape.
These bags can be washed in the machine to keep them clean and they also come with a one year no-rip guarantee. These bags do not have a flat bottom, which can make it slightly more awkward for packing and unpacking and some consider that these are on the small side of reusable grocery bags.
10. Earthwise Large Insulated Grocery Bags
The twin pack of Earthwise large insulated grocery bags are made from heavy duty nylon with insulation and a PEVA lining which is leak-proof. These insulated bags can keep food hot or cold and they have poly web handles which are sewn all the way down to the bottom of the bag for stability and over shoulder carrying. Available in different colors, these measure 12.75" wide by 14" high by 7.75" deep.Some buyers have been disappointed with the odor of these bags and have struggled to air the smell out before using. The zipper closures may not be the most robust and the lining can be prone to tearing.
Things to Consider Before Buying Reusable Grocery Bags
12 million bottles of oil are used to manufacture the plastic bags that we use every year in the US and as well as the impact on land, plastic waste frequently ends up in the ocean where it contributes to death rates in marine mammals.
Paper grocery bags are better than plastic bags in that they can recycled and do not take long to decompose in the landfill, however, if made from ‘virgin’ paper, this contributes to deforestation and even if the bags are made from recycled paper, there is still the high energy consumption required for the recycling processes.
What to Look for When Choosing Reusable Grocery Bags
Reusable grocery bags can hold more weight than plastic or paper bags and are durable and long-lasting. Not only are the materials of reusable bags heavier duty than plastic bags, but the handles and bases are usually reinforced which reduces the risk of the bag breaking while in use.
Many reusable grocery bags are designed to stay open while you fill them, and some are also designed to be folded up or stored in a pod or pouch, which not only saves space, but also makes it easier for you to carry them in your purse or rucksack to the grocery store. Single foldable bags are especially easy to carry in your pocket all the time.
Longer handles are better if you prefer to hook some of your groceries over your shoulder and using recycled bags will cost less over time if your grocery store charges for plastic bags.
Also remember that reusable grocery bags can also double up as book bags, laundry bags, beach bags and so much more!
Types of Reusable Grocery Bags
Reusable grocery bags are often made from plastics such as polyethylene and polypropylene. Although these can sometimes be made from recycled plastics, they are often made from fossil fuels. These types of plastic bags are strong and durable bags, and some will even be recyclable at the end of their life.
Polyethylene or PET bags are often made from recycled PET plastics used in soda bottles. PET can also be combined with polyester to give softer touch bags.
Many of the reusable grocery bags available today are polypropylene, or nonwoven poly. Not only are these bags suitable for all budgets, they fold easily, and are often brightly colored and printed with trendy designs. Nonwoven poly does need hand washing though rather than machine washing, and it can usually be recycled at the end of its life, although any rivets or snaps should be taken off first.
Rip stop or Poly bags are made from nylon or polyester and although these are thin bags, they are still durable and compact. If a rip stop bag does not have any printing on it then it can be machine washed, otherwise it should be hand washed.
If you carry a lot of liquids or frozen groceries, then some polypropylene bags are available laminated which can easily be wiped down after use.
There are various types of ‘natural’ bags, such as calico, hessian and hemp. Calico bags are an unbleached cotton fabric, which causes less impact on the environment as bleaching chemicals have not been used in its manufacture. However, unless the cotton has been organically grown, many pesticides will have been used, as well as water supplies. Calico bags are usually strong and can be washed in the machine. Other cotton bags such as canvas are also strong, durable and washable, but like calico, extensive resources can be used growing and processing the cotton.
Hessian or jute bags is made from a plant fiber spun into threads. This is a very strong natural fiber which is biodegradable although it can be sensitive to moisture. As many jute bags are imported, they can have a larger carbon footprint than other types of reusable grocery bags.
Hemp bags are made from a non-hallucinogenic plant within the hemp family! Not only is hemp durable and extremely strong, it is also resistant to rot. When hemp is grown, it is able to grow in poor soils and it needs little water.
Cloth bags can be made from re-used textiles and these can also be strong and durable, as well as easy to wash.
Taking Care of Reusable Grocery Bags
If your reusable grocery bag has had a spill, then the bag should be washed or wiped out and left to dry fully before putting away. If your bags are damp with condensation from cold foods, they should also be left to dry before storing. This will help ensure odors or mold does not develop on the bags.
Any type of reusable bag needs cleaning regularly. If it can be washed, then put it in the machine on a cool-warm wash, otherwise, wipe it out with a damp cloth and some sanitizer – a weak solution of household bleach and warm water is fine.
When you clean your bags it is also the ideal time to check them over for any damage. Check the base has not worn through, that the handles are still firmly attached and that seams have not started to unravel.
In this article, we have taken a look at the main advantages of reusable grocery bags and what to look for when selecting reusable bags. We have also discussed some of the main synthetic materials such as polypropylene and natural materials such as cotton and hessian that are used in reusable bag manufacture, and how to take care of bags to help them last longer.We hope you have enjoyed reading our article on the best reusable grocery bags, and that the wide selection of reusable bags we have reviewed has helped convince you to make the switch from single-use plastic (or even paper bags!) to reusable ones.