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Switching to reusable grocery bags is one of the first major ways that the consumer culture can fight back against pollution and plastic dumping in the ocean.
Every year, four million tons of plastic bags (not including all other types of plastic) are dumped into the ocean.
Ever notice how paper bags aren’t even an option at most grocery stores anymore? It’s cheaper for corporations to make plastic bags, and more detrimental to the environment.
It’s time to put a stop to it. These are the top reusable grocery bags that don’t just offer an alternative to plastic pollution, but actually work better than plastic bags at holding your groceries upright, and providing safe passage back home.
The goal is to have a reinforced, reusable bag that doesn’t cost a lot, and remains lightweight so you’re not straining yourself when using them. These are the best of the best.
Our Reviews Of The Best Reusable Groceries Bags
Simply Green Solutions Reinforced Recycled Bags
You don’t want to be a walking billboard for whatever store you bought your reusable bags from.
Simply Green Solutions has a neutral, reusable set of bags that doesn’t use additional dyes or harmful chemicals in production, and retain their color for a while to come.
Ten different colors and over eleven cubic feet of space per package offer you a good amount of grocery storage, and a variety of color so you can keep meats, vegetables and non-perishable items in color coded containers.
SGS strictly makes these out of recycled polypropylene, and included two reinforced areas that make these a much sturdier option than any plastic bags that you could ever find.
The carry strap provides plenty of surface space (so you won’t get those red rings around your fingers from one-tripping a ton of plastic bags), as well as a reinforced and removable bottom plate.
Remove them to make these bags more lightweight if you desire, but keep them in to stay sturdy and upright in the trunk on the ride home.
Creative Green Life Reusable Shopping Bags
Creative Green Life has been hard at work to try and figure out the best approach to the plastic pollution problem, and they realized that a big reason that people go with plastic is marketing.
They made some of the most stylish reusable bags that you could ever find, and while the price is a bit more premium, these are likely the last reusable bags you’ll ever need.
Crafted out of a non-woven synthetic material, these are built to stand the test of time, and come with an insert on the bottom to remain upright and protect your groceries from crushing each other.
The main driving point is the extra long handles, which help with the maximum weight capacity (30 lbs) because they wrap underneath the bag for extra support.
They collapse for easy storage in your trunk, even in a compact car, and are completely eco-friendly in the way that they are built.
Metal rivets in the handles help promote longevity and reduce the possibility of tearing, while the three different stylish designs (with more to come) make you look and feel like a smarter shopper.
Teoyall Reusable Grocery Totes
Have a more fun style that’s just not being represented by our first two picks?
Teoyall is on your side. They have nine different packs of various designs, ranging from a sea of cats to a bunch of upside-down owls, and far more than we have time to mention.
Apart from style, they also pack a great amount of space without having to clear out your wallet to get them.
Made out of a completely waterproof blend of polyester, these bags are machine washable, and offer insane capacity that gives you up to 44 lbs of resistance per bag.
That’s over 240 lbs of groceries in a single haul (meaning you won’t need more than one or two packs of these bags).
Because they don’t feature a removable bottom, they’re able to fold up the second you’re done using them, and just stash in your trunk or by the door when you go out to the store.
You’ll get a few years of use out of these before they start to show signs of wear and tear, and roughly a decade if you take care of them.
Last but certainly not least, Teoyall is completely cruelty-free and doesn’t test on animals for any reason.
Lotus Trolley Bags w/ Cooler Bag
Lotus put a different spin on reusable bags.
If you go to Whole Foods and other like minded chains with smaller carts, this pack is going to work great for you (if not, on the sales page they have bags designed for larger carts like you’d find at Walmart).
They insert a rod through the handles to let these bags hang onto your cart. The rods are removable when it comes time to wash the bags.
While these aren’t machine washable, they don’t take a great deal of time to wash by hand, thanks to the patented eco-friendly material that Lotus built these with.
Expand your bags to meet the needs of your cart, and store a ton of groceries.
Each bag offers up to 50 lbs of weight capacity, so you can stuff them, scan everything, and pop them back in the cart when you’re done.
You get one cooler bag, as well as four different colors so you can choose what goes in which bag.
Lotus donates 1% of profits to the environment, and offers a money-back guarantee if you don’t fall head over heels for these bags.
Anleo Reusable Grocery Totes
Last on our list is Anelo and their sleek design.
If you’re not looking to draw attention in the parking lot or in the grocery store, these all-black bags are the perfect low profile reusable totes for you.
You get six to a pack, offering of 240 lbs of weight retention for everything on your grocery list.
That’s due in part to the tight construction that’s tear-resistant, the double stitching, and the plastic inserts on the bottom that help provide stability and support.
The handles feel a bit thin on your hands, but do the trick when it comes to carrying these home.
Thanks to the minimal use of chemicals and dyes, these bags are perfect to add your own design or DIY creation on to.
Anleo is the perfect blend between eco-friendly bag alternatives for shopping, and teaching your little ones how to protect the environment (while having a little customization fun in the process).
Why Should You Get Rid of Plastic Bags?
One reason isn’t enough, so we came up with seven main reasons that you shouldn’t use plastic bags anymore.
If you have the small amount of money that it takes to permanently convert to reusable bags, you’ll be effectively reducing your carbon footprint for yourself and your entire household.
Plastic bags are one of the leading reasons (that are highly preventable) that our waters are polluted.
We have over four million tons of plastic bags alone that enter the ocean every single year, which could be 100-200 billion of the five trillion pieces of plastic that currently litter the ocean.
The production of plastic bags requires a lot of pollution to go into the atmosphere.
We know that factories and industrialization is one of the leading causes behind climate change, but the creation of these plastic bags (literally billions per year) is a result of supply and demand.
If we keep using plastic bags, it will remain a profitable industry. Switching to reusable also implores companies to purchase more recycled material, which helps in other ways.
The 1,000-year breakdown period might not be right at all—plastic bags might never break down, even after humans are gone.
There are currently chemicals in production that dissolve plastic in the environment, but we’re nowhere near coming close to a breakthrough that will eliminate this issue.
Every plastic bag could be covering up to nine cubic inches of land that prevent sunlight from touching the soil, rainwater from nourishing the earth, and preventing new life from growing. Each individual bag.
Aside from the environment, they’re also lethal for wildlife and marine life.
Whales are washing up on the shores with hundreds (sometimes thousands) of pieces of plastic trapped in their bodies, which reduces their ability to regulate oxygen, or sometimes prevents them from feeling hunger and they starve to death.
Wildlife can choke on plastic bags or get stuck in them. This isn’t how nature intended the food chain to work.
The world is banning plastic (and styrofoam for that matter), one state and government agency at a time.
At the time of writing this post, one US state (Maine) has banned the production and distribution of styrofoam, and other countries are quickly taking action to eliminate plastic and other harmful items to be produced.
It’s only a matter of time before you won’t be able to buy or use plastic bags anymore. Better get a head start.
Plastic particles affect human health. If we were all using less plastic, our global health would improve.
Plastic particles are treated as pathogens when your liver tries to process them, and if you’re thinking “How do plastic bags get into my system?” then think about this: have to ever placed fresh produce in a plastic bag?
Wash it off as much as you like, but plastic is persistent, and it’s surely gotten into your system more than once.
For reusable grocery bags washable ones at least, you’re only washing them some of the time so you aren’t damaging the environment with water waste as much as you would be with plastic bags.
Reusable Groceries Bags FAQ
Why Are Reusable Grocery Bags Better?
Ever had to race home because you don’t want your frozen goods to thaw and go bad? Well, they wouldn’t if you were using a reusable bag.
Even if you don’t get the best insulated grocery bag, it’s still harder for temperature to pass through fabrics like polyester and recycled polypropylene than it is for a thin stretch of plastic.
You also don’t have to worry about them ripping and spilling your goods all over the driveway.
Reusable grocery bags are usually made with a minimum of 20 lbs (some up to 44 lbs) of weight capacity before they buckle.
For some perspective, those larger capacities mean you can store five gallons of milk in one bag and not have it break.
They’re one of the most versatile things you’ll own. You think you’ll only use it for groceries?
Think again. Think of all the times that you’ve used plastic bags for little odds-and-ends reasons in the house, and now replace that with a reusable bag.
Heading out to the beach, transporting things to the local donation center, there’s a ton of different ways that you could be using these instead of single-use plastic bags.
Are Reusable Grocery Bags Good for the Environment?
Cloth grocery bags are not only better for the environment because you aren’t dumping more plastic, but they’re also eco-friendly in the ways that they’re built.
Note how any cloth or fabric bag that you might have or that you might have seen isn’t rich with dyes.
There’s virtually no chemical impact on the environment, because the companies that make these bags with being eco-friendly in mind also practice those same ideals during production.
So you’re removing plastic, dyes and chemicals from the environment. How else are they good?
If they do break in a few years and you throw them out, they actually degrade unlike plastic bags.
While we want to keep things out of the landfills in America, this is something that will at least decompose without hurting mother earth.
Productions costs are high for plastic bags as well, and we don’t mean monetarily.
We couldn’t care less what these big companies are spending to produce plastic bags, but they’re certainly a big cost on the environment with all the pollution they contribute to the air and atmosphere with their factories.
Creating plastic is a dirty business, and the less plastic that consumers demand, the less they will produce.
What Can I do With Reusable Grocery Bags?
Heavy duty reusable grocery bags have more uses than just lugging around your lettuce and crackers from store to home.
You can actually use these as planters. Even if your bags are partially waterproof, water and air are able to pass through the fibers, which they can’t do with plastic.
The most popular crop that people plant in reusable bags is tomatoes, though you can put just about anything in them.
That means no more plastic pots, and you don’t have to sacrifice crop quality.
Or you could swap out those plastic pails that your children use for Halloween with reusable bags.
They’re going to hold more candy, and they’ll also serve a function when all is said and done.
How many times can you use a plastic orange pumpkin before people start telling you, “Hey man, you know it’s not October, right?”
If you’re heading to the gym on a regular basis, you can bring one with your gym clothes in them, and another one folded up inside to store your clean clothes to switch back into.
If you get a high capacity bag (usually 44 lb weight limit or more), you can even stash your trainers, headphones, iPod and more in the bag. No more expensive duffle bags.
If you know how to sew, you’ll get even more use out of these.
When a reusable grocery bag starts to fade and split at the seams, cut away the dead fabric, and make good of the remaining good fabric.
You can create throw pillows, an enclosed first-aid kit, or build organization cubes out of them.
Those are just a few examples, but putting your creativity to work with a needle and thread is better than tossing it out.
How Many Times do You Need to Use a Reusable Shopping Bag?
Even though reusable totes have been around for ages, there was this movement to reuse single-use plastic bags when you go back to the store.
That didn’t work well: people felt embarrassed, the bags would tear after the second or third use, and it just didn’t go well.
However, heavy duty canvas grocery bags and other fabric bags are actually celebrated now, and you can reuse them for five or ten years before needing to retire them.
To get your investment’s worth out of it, you should use your best reusable produce bags for at least a year in order to make a significant impact on the environment.
On average, one year of exclusively using these will mean that a dozen pounds of plastic didn’t go into the ocean.
You need to use a reusable shopping bag every time you go to the grocery store for it to continuously impact the environment in a positive way.
Are Cloth Bags Better Than Plastic?
In every single way, yes.
They last longer, have a better weight limit to them, and also serve multiple functions as we’ve discussed.
One of the main selling points is that the best insulated shopping bag will actually keep your food in the safe temperature zone for longer, which can be a big deal if you have to drive a little outside your comfort zone to get to a discount or warehouse-style store.
That’s a little more time on the food, meaning you can make less shopping trips per month and mitigate gas use as well.
If you’re ever wondering where to buy reusable grocery bags, the internet has become the best option in recent years.
Grocery giants were pushing reusable bags ten or twenty years ago because there was a “green movement,” but they didn’t produce them in an eco-friendly way.
Nowadays, you have a ton of different manufacturers that were founded on the idea of making a smarter, more eco-friendly bag that actually benefits the environment, not just their bottom line.
Cloth bags are better than plastic, and are more accessible than ever before.
Different materials have different waterproofing capabilities, different brands have different sized bags, but they all share one factor: they’re not killing marine life or damaging the earth, and that’s enough of a reason to make the switch.
The Last Shopping Bags You’ll Ever Need
Reusable bags are a small personal financial investment, and offer an excellent benefit for the environment.
In the average five-year lifespan of most reusable bags, you would have used over 2,500 plastic bags (roughly 9-10 per week for five years).
That’s over seventy pounds of plastic that you’re not putting in the ocean.
Collectively, we can reduce plastic waste and persuade manufacturers to either produce less plastic bags, or see that it’s more profitable for them to make reusable products.
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