Reusable grocery bags, or reusable produce bags as the name suggests, are grocery bags that can be used more than once, and they come in all shapes and sizes.
Some bags are more ‘chic totes’, whilst others are insulated to keep produce cool. Some are more practical and sturdy for your heavy groceries.
Regardless of which type of produce bag you prefer, you should always have one in your car or handbag to avoid having to use a plastic bag when you purchase groceries.
Why Is It Important To Use Reusable Produce Bags?
For the last few decades, it has been common practice to pack produce in very thin single-use plastic bags. With time, we have realised just how bad single use plastic bags are to the environment. Plastic bags are especially difficult to handle because they are easily blown out of landfills, and into storm drains, rivers, and even treetops. These flimsy bags are also easily consumed by animals, which can be fatal to them.
We often see posts on social media showing how a marine animal has mistook a plastic bag for food, which usually ends up in fatality. To start making a difference, ensure you use reusable produce bags, and you can prevent both the creation and consumption of single use plastic items.
Are Reusable Bags Really Eco-Friendly?
Just as with other products, the environmental impact of reusable produce bags should be assessed by looking at its production process, use and disposal.
Reusable grocery bags made of cotton or sisal have a high carbon footprint due to the amount of water and pesticides utilised in their production, and therefore these bags have to be reused numerous times to be eco-friendly.
Reusable product bags made from both recycled plastic and recycled fabrics are the most eco-friendly. There are other reusable bags which are made from cassava, seaweed and other vegetable offshoots like this True Natured bag, or Avani Eco.
The more times a produce bag is used, the more eco-friendly it becomes. So, when you are considering purchasing a reusable product bag, make sure it’s one that you like the look of, and can see yourself sticking with it for a lengthy period of times. Whilst these bags are more to do with being functional than fashion conscious – you should make sure you feel comfortable using it – or else you are unlikely to continue!
What Are The Benefits Of Switching?
There are so many reasons as to why switching to a reusable grocery bag is a wise idea, not just because of the fact it’s far more eco friendly, but also because of a number of other added benefits that you should consider:
- Much Bigger Carrying Capacity
Reusable grocery bags are made of heavy-duty materials like canvas, cotton and sisal. This makes them stronger than regular plastic grocery bags. You can safely carry your entire produce shopping in one bag without any likelihood of tears.
- Cost Saving
Some stores charge extra for their shopping bags therefore by having your own you will avoid these additional costs.
- Reduce Clutter
Having one grocery bag replaces tens of plastic produce bags which makes for a more organised household. You can even purchase some bags which are designed to fit perfectly into a shopping cart to help organise your groceries.
- Aesthetically Pleasing
Some reusable grocery bags, like the totes, are so trendy that no-one will realise you are carrying produce. Others can also function as a little weekend bag for you to carry clothes, electronics, and other items you like to travel with!
Can You Make Your Own Reusable Produce Bags?
You most definitely can! For those that know their way around a sewing machine, making reusable grocery bags for your own use or as gifts is a great ‘DIY’ idea. Old garments or upholstery make great materials for DIY bags.
Just cut the desired size and stitch. Buttons and bits of colourful lace can be used to decorate the bag, and old net curtains are good for making vegetable and bread bags.
DIY produce bags are great because they are affordable and make use of what you already have in the house.
Another great DIY idea for the really crafty and adventurous is to make a reed basket. If you live in an area close to a swamp, the grasses and reeds make great materials for weaving. Such bags are great for produce shopping.
What Impact Can I Have By Switching To Reusable Bags?
The benefits of reusable bags are numerous.
To put this into perspective: If one household were to make 2 grocery shopping trips a week and on those trips they would typically use 4 plastic bags, if they were to shift from using plastic shopping bags to reusable bags, it would result in an annual reduction in plastic waste of 208 single use plastic bags.
Examples Of Great Reusable Produce Bags
These reusable bags are designed to fit the standard shopping cart and are heavy-duty, with a capacity of 22kg. They also include an insulated bag and inserts for eggs and wine.
The ‘Shopping Cart Organiser’ bag is multipurpose and can be used in the car trunk or as a beach bag.
They are lightweight, transparent and breathable, and ideal for produce shopping.
A pack of two extra-large foldable insulated reusable grocery bags perfect for frozen goods.
This collapsible stylish tote is made of heavy-duty canvas. It can be a great weekend bag or it can be folded and fit inside your bag. It is quite large though, at 18. 5″ L x 11. 75″W x 11. 5″H.
The disposable plastic shopping bag which was introduced in the 1970s, has in fact brought with it a pollution catastrophe of unimaginable proportions. Plastic production also utilises oil and natural gas, which puts further pressure on these finite resources. Additionally, the disposal of single-use grocery bags is also costly to the environment, with only 25% being recycled. The rest end up in landfills, or as a pollutant on land and in the sea, where it breaks down into toxic micro-particles.
Reusable grocery bags are gaining popularity. Why? because more people are becoming aware of the negative side effects of single use disposable bags.
An important point to keep in mind is that a reusable bag can be used for a number of years, depending on its material, and therefore, one does not need to buy or make too many of them.
The concept of zero waste living would dictate that you buy the number of bags you need, and use them until they are worn out. At that point, you could buy or make another.