Chances are you grew up learning how to correctly fold your plastic grocery bags for the next shop, or to just store under the sink. I used to fold them into perfect, cute triangles.
But while I reused mine, that didn’t stop them from appearing on beaches and stuck in drains after a windy or rainy day.
That’s not cute at all!
Plastic waste is a problem that weighs on the minds of those of us focused on zero waste and sustainable living.
Thankfully, some exceptional eco-friendly grocery bags alternatives are plastic-free, reusable, and a must for eco shoppers. Let’s dive in and see what eco shopping bags are out there…
If you are a real eco gal (or guy), this might be the purchase for you. While this is the priciest bag on the list, it is the strongest and most durable made 100% from biodegradable jute and only jute! (Not even a mesh or plastic lining or any other petrochemicals)
The jute used is all-natural, stylish and sun-grown. This stunning shopping bag looks great when it is filled with groceries, but hey it even looks good buried deep in the ground when it has had its toll, and it is time to decompose. But don’t let this throw you off of the lifespan of the bag. A friend of mine has had hers for almost five years now!
Many supermarkets stock jute bags, but if you take a look inside, they have a plastic lining to keep costs low. I really appreciate a bag like this that was woven without compromise to be 100% biodegradable and sustainable.
Ever Eco Produce Bags are mesh produce bags made from recycled plastic bottles and come in a set of 8. While this is not a biodegradable bag, it is reusable and recycled. This means that these shopping bags use 90% less water during production.
The Ever Eco Produce Bags roll up into little sausage shapes; easy to fit in your handbag. The bags measure out to about 30 cm x 35 cm and have a clip to attach to your trolly while you shop. They can carry a weight of around eight oranges - now if only there was an orange- to-other-organic-produce calculator.
A really cool feature of these mesh bags, is that when you come home, and you need to wash your produce, you can run them under water without removing them from the bag!
You can probably tell that I really enjoyed the mesh design on these bags. I keep all my produce in the fridge, still in the bag. The mesh allows just enough airflow to keep them fresh, so I don’t need to worry about my food rolling around in the fridge.
Ahh, I do really enjoy Terra Thread products. We know them for their high-quality yet straightforward classic look and feel. These shopping bags come in a variety of colors with a small front pouch and a lead-free zipper. The tote bag is made from organic cotton and can take quite a bit of weight.
What I love most about these cotton bags is the fact that they don’t look like grocery bags, so I can use them for beach days or at work. The bags are made in India and are made under fair-labor practices.
I noticed the bag is the absolute perfect fit for my laptop, so guess what I use it for when not shopping. If you’re looking for a versatile shopping bag that offers style alongside practicality, this would be my pick.
I dare say it would even make a cute gift for a friend.
These beautiful, organic cotton bags definitely tick all my eco-friendly factors. Not only are they sustainable and reusable, but even the organic cotton used to make the bag was sustainably sourced and ethically made in India.
The see-through mesh bag is great for all fruit and veg; the mesh is even tight enough to carry a variety of nuts. It is a 2-pack set and very easy to wash. I just tossed them into the washing machine and called it a day!
While the bag is suitable for items up to 2.5kg/ 90oz, I would not put anything with rough edges in it, pineapple was a real culprit for hooking onto the mesh.
The handles are very firm, and they don’t hurt my fingers the way a plastic bag does when it is packed a bit too heavy.
Very similar to the first two eco-friendly shopping bags, this is another great lightweight mesh option that comes in a set of 8 with a carrier pouch to keep things neat! It is also made from recycled plastic, which again means 90% less water during production. Yay!
These bags have a very basic design, no frills or details, just simple and clean. I find myself even using these bags for other things, such as toiletries (since it is a set of 8). As I said, no-frills means you can toss them in the wash, no problem.
Each bag carries about 70 oz, so if you want to use all 8 for your shopping, you can do an eco-friendly 560 oz shop!
If you are looking to try reusable shopping bags for the first time, I think this is a great first set to try for the whole family, especially since they come in such a simple and organized pouch.
If you are looking for an option to purchase in bulk, Zuma Non is the way to go!
Zuma Non shopping bags are a great option for essential personal shopping or for bulk branding. They are made with non-woven fabric, specifically a 100% degradable virgin polypropylene fiber. It is worth noting that this is a bag that you can use for a LONG time - they feel incredibly durable and sturdy.
Polypropylene fiber is a lot safer than other plastics and 100% degradable, although that process can take up to 30 years.
The bags are easy to clean, as long as you use cold water. You can purchase a set of 24 or a box or 100; both are priced very well. I would definitely recommend these to someone who is looking to brand a simple bag or maybe use it as a goodie bag at conventions or conferences.
The color variation is not exactly extensive, but what they do offer is enough if you need to differentiate the bag for various products. I like to keep some of my soft fruit and veg separate, so this is a satisfying feature if you like to stay organized.
I think this is by far the cutest eco grocery bag on the list - the organic cotton flat bag by Life Without Plastic. It folds up incredibly easily and ties with an adorable wooden button.
It is effortless to clean, just toss it in the wash and dry it on a line. No extra fuss or caution. Look, it’s definitely a simple shopping bag, but it does have some style! Maybe it’s the graphic logo or just the beige simplistic cotton, but I found I was happily using this bag for more than just groceries.
While it folds up easily with little to no effort, it doesn’t quite “scrunch” up into a small ball the way you expect. I don’t mind that too much, but it is worth noting if you have a small handbag.
Reusable shopping makes a significant difference. Since the ban in certain European cities, the amount of plastic in waters and sewers has significantly decreased.
Besides that, some reusable shopping bags are also zero-waste, which means they don’t produce the toxic fumes and chemicals during production that plastic bags do.
Yes, reusable grocery bags are sanitary, some can even be tossed in the washing machine to freshen them up. If you clean and reuse them, it can make a big difference in the amount of plastic that ends up in our sewers or oceans, making them a very sanitary choice!
Depending on the material, you can either wipe the bags with a sanitary wipe or toss them in the washing machine. If you would like to sanitize them correctly, do so with boiling water. Just make sure it is not made from a recycled material such as plastic. In that case, you should use a sanitary wipe or cold water.
If your bag is made of a biodegradable plastic or organic cotton, it could decompose in 3-6 months while regular plastic bags can take 15 to 1000 years! Other materials are a bit friendlier to the environment and can decompose in a few weeks, such as bags made from 100% Jute. Just make sure it doesn’t have a plastic lining.
When it comes to reusable grocery bags that will be a part of your life, one thing I look at, regardless of the shape, size, color or material, is strength and durability.
I bought my very favorite heavy-duty bag in Hawaii on my honeymoon from a farmers' market. It has a cute pattern and was $40. I bought it to remember the trip. I never realized how much joy and utility it would bring me because it was heavy duty quality construction (and beautiful) compared to the normal bags out there.
Spend some money (if you can) and get a shopping bag that brings you joy. This will be your shopping helper on a weekly basis so get something that will last - in doing so you will also be making a further step towards eco-friendly living!