If you want to do your bit to save our planet and make the environment better for everyone, then a good place to start is by using reusable grocery bags.
Single-use bags are a huge part of the plastic waste problem that is really hurting the world and you can make a difference.
PRO-TIP: You can find many kinds of larger fashion bags for deep discounts on one of the online thrift stores that will double as a grocery bag!
Are Tote Bags Really Good for the Environment?
Here’s an interesting article from The Atlantic that makes an interesting argument.
Before you start loading up on reusable bags, you’ll want to consider a few things.
Homemade Bags Are Best
If you can sew, and not all of us can, the most environmentally friendly reusable bags are those you make at home.
You’ll find they often last longer than the store-bought ones too.
However, if you don’t have a sewing machine or sewing talent, you’re probably not going to learn just to make some bags. So, in that case, you’ll want to buy a reusable bag.
Secondhand Fabrics Are A Good Choice
Some purchasable reusable bags are made out of secondhand fabrics, we like this idea as it offers you a chance to cut down on making new fabric.
However, it’s worth noting that you need to be careful about the origins of the materials used even if they are second hand.
One thing we urge you to be very careful with is secondhand mosquito netting. It’s fine to make mesh bags from this but never use it for food as most netting is covered in unremovable pesticides which will contaminate food.
New Fabrics – Your Four Main Choices
When it comes to new fabrics you have four main options for earthwise reusable grocery bags.
Repurposed/Recycled Fabric Bags
Fabric bags are great for a reusable grocery bag. We prefer recycled or repurposed fabric whenever possible and one of the key things to ensure when buying a fabric bag is that it’s easy to wash.
These bags typically last a long time as long as they can be cleaned. Without cleaning, however, they can get moldy or develop an unpleasant aroma.
Recycled PET Plastic Mesh Bags
As long as the plastic in these bags is recycled, you’re not contributing to the plastic problem. PET is a plastic that is made from old water bottles and it is incredibly hard-wearing. If you buy a PET plastic mesh bag you can expect it to last for a long time.
These bags also have a much lower carbon footprint than new bags because recycled material requires much less manufacturing.
Cotton Produce Bags
Cotton bags are the fall back for when you need to store flour or powder. You can’t normally find recycled cotton and it might not be ideal for storing food in if you could. They’re not the most reusable grocery bags if you let them get stained. A canvas tote is often the better option.
So, we recommend that you instead look for organic cotton bags and ensure that you are being as eco-conscious as possible when you source your cotton produce bags.
Bulk bags are a new idea. They’re designed for storing food instead of using glass or plastic jars. They are much kinder to the planet than plastic bags when you’re grocery shipping.
They tend to be made from recycled PET (recycled plastic bottles) but have a very different appearance from a more traditional grocery bag. These foldable grocery bags are also much longer-lasting than a plastic grocery bag.
They seal well and we’ve moved nearly 2/3rds of our kitchen contents over to these bags as we regularly bulk buy products that have a long shelf life.
We strongly recommend that everyone switch over to reusable grocery bags as soon as possible. The best reusable grocery bags are the ones that you already have in your home – there’s no need to buy a reusable grocery bag if you already have one.
Plastic bags must go if we are to preserve the environment and that means going beyond the best reusable grocery bag and looking at things such as reusable produce bags too.
We like to think that the plastic grocery bag is a relic of a past when grocery stores and their consumers didn’t know better and single-use plastic bags were the norm. Now? We can all take our own bags and do eco-friendly grocery shopping.
It is very easy to make this change and it has a clear and definite impact on the environment.
It can also save you money in the long-term as reusable kit tends to be more cost-effective than single use products.