The Best Reusable Produce Bags For Plastic-Free Grocery Shopping

Grocery stores are full of single-use plastics. For those of us that want to reduce the amount of waste we produce, it can be difficult to avoid all of the plastics used in products these days.

One thing you can control is to stop using those plastic produce bags. It’s a simple change that will result in a lot less plastic waste over the years.

In recent years, earth-conscious brands have started offering convenient, machine-washable bags that work great.

The Plastic Problem

Every year, we produce millions of tons of plastic waste. This waste all ends up in the landfill, where it’s estimated it will take 1000 years for it to biodegrade.

By making a simple switch to reusable produce bags, you can reduce your own waste and feel great doing it. Combine these totes with some reusable Ziploc bag alternatives and you’ll be well on your way to being a more eco-conscious shopper.

Some Important Things To Know About Reusable Produce Bags

You Can’t Store Food In Them

Since they’re typically mesh and not air-tight, storing food in them is a bad idea.

If you have something that needs to stay wrapped, like zucchini, you’re going to find that it drys out quickly if stored in a mesh bag.

Grocers Can Sometimes Have Trouble Seeing What’s In The Bags

This one depends on the specific bags used, but unlike plastic produce bags, most reusable bags are mesh and at least semi-opaque. This can sometimes make it more difficult for grocers to see what’s inside, so expect them to have to look inside sometimes.

Staining Can (And Probably Will) Happen

As long as you wash them regularly you will minimize the risk of stains, but by using bags over and over, stains will eventually happen.

Why Not Just Use No Bag At All?

If you shop at a grocer that doesn’t require you to weigh your own produce, sometimes you can get away without using a bag at all. It can be an annoyance to the cashier if you come with a huge load of potatoes or apples, though.

If you do have to weigh your own produce, it’s a different story. Sure, if you’re buying something like bananas, you can stick the sticker on the whole bunch. But if you’re buying a bunch of individual apples, how are they going to know you’re not trying to trick the system and pay for less than you’re getting?

You’ll Pay a Little Bit More For Using Them

Because the typical plastic produce bags weigh about 3g and reusable bags a little more, you’ll end up being a little bit extra every time you use them.

This won’t add up to any significant amount of money, but some people find it concerning.

There is a solution: Some bags come with the tare weight stitched to them so the cashier can cancel out the weight.

The Best Reusable Produce Bags

We’ve rounded up several excellent alternatives to the typical plastic produce bags. For everything from fruits to veggies and loose bulk products, you’ll find a solution that works for you.

Best Organic Cotton Mesh Produce Bags

Best Organic Cotton Mesh Produce Bags

Simple Ecology

Simple Ecology’s mesh produce bags are a great option for a reusable solution that skips the single-use plastic.

They’re made of GOTS-certified 100% organic, unprocessed cotton. The bags are manufactured in India.

They have a convenient drawstring closure and are machine washable, but make sure to always use cold water and air dry.

They’re inexpensive and come in various sizes. See their store below for all of the buying options.

Best Organic Cotton Muslin Totes

Best Organic Cotton Muslin Totes

Simple Ecology

If you’re in the market for some organic cotton muslin totes, again we have to recommend Simple Ecology.

Much like the mesh totes, these are also made of GOTS-certified 100% organic cotton. These ones are actually suitable for storing food in the fridge or pantry. They’re better than storing food in plastic bags, because these are breathable and allow ethylene gas (which causes food to decay) to escape.

These are also perfect for bulk bin shopping.

They have a convenient drawstring closure and are machine washable, but make sure to always use cold water and air dry.

They’re inexpensive and come in various sizes. See their store below for all of the buying options.

cotton mesh tote bags

A Stylish Reusable Tote

HotShine Reusable Cotton Mesh Bags

For a stylish option for carrying your produce, look at HotShine’s cotton produce totes. These bags are versatile—not only are they perfect for produce, but they make great storage bags for toys, clothes or any other household belongings that fit inside.

They come in five different colors and have a 12-inch handle.

These totes come in plastic-free packaging and can handle up to 40 pounds—that’s a lot of bananas.

ikea kungsfor bag

A Cute Ikea Solution

Ikea KUNGSFORS Cotton Mesh Produce Bags

For the Ikea fans who love the boho vibe, their KUNGSFORS cotton mesh bags might just be right up your alley.

These bags look super cute and can be used to hang up produce at home as well. They also double as storage for virtually anything in the house that fits.

These are handbag sized only, and some reviewers wished they came with a long strap to be used like a tote. Some also wish they were a little bit bigger.

But for the price ($5.99 for a set of 2) and being made out of 100% cotton, they’re a solid pick. Ikea says the bags are made from sustainable cotton, and they don’t come in any packaging at all.

A perk of these ones is that since the mesh is so big, grocers should be able to scan tags easily without having to take anything out of the bag.

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