10 best reusable produce bags for reducing waste (2023)

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Many of us are now used to bringing our reusable shopping bags to the supermarket, but we still put loose fruit and vegetables into single-use plastic bags – a lot of them: the 10 leading supermarkets produce 1.2 billion a year, and "single-use" was Collins Dictionary’ official word of the year in 2018.

But there is an alternative – reusable fruit and veg bags are better for the planet and for your producetoo: you won’t end up with slimy mushrooms or limp leaves.

Reusable produce bags should be see-through – in the interests of transparency– for you and shop staff. They must be lightweight, so you pay for the contents not the container, and easy to secure, so that your tomatoes don’t tumble out.

To withstand repeated use, they must be strong and washable. To find the best on offer, we tested a range of bags by taking them to supermarkets, greengrocers and markets.


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Reusable fruit and veg bags are made of organic cotton, polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic drinks bottles and polyester. Cotton, even as mesh, isn’t as see-through as synthetics, so you may need to leave bags open at check-out. PET and polyester dry faster and are pretty indestructible.

Some show the tare weight (the bag’s weight) so the cashier can deduct it from the full weight of your purchases, but it’s negligible and isn’t possible everywhere.

We’ve found other uses for these bags, too: they’re ideal for washing-machine use for delicate underwear, face-cleansing cloths and trainers, or as storage for small items like reels of thread, toys, sunglasses, leads and charges when travelling.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.

Onya reusable produce bags: £11.75 for five, Earthwise Girls

Arriving in a compact cardboard box, this five-pack of white densely woven mesh bags weigh just 10g each, yet can handle up to 2kg. Each measures 30 x 25cm and the bottom has a double seam for strength and a black drawstring cord, which you’ll need to knot to secure your stuff. The bags’ rPet fabric is made from recycled polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic drinks bottles, and come with a red, purple, turquoise or green pouch to clip onto the handle of a shopping bag, belt, or keyring.

Buy now

Turtle Bags medium organic cotton grocery bag: £2, Turtle Bags

Named after the leatherback turtles that visit British shores and mistake plastic bags for jellyfish, Turtle Bags was established in 2001 to raise awareness of marine plastic pollution. Their grocery bags are made of sturdy unbleached organic cotton mesh in two sizes: 25 x 30cm and 30 x 38cm, with a drawstring cord. The cotton has Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) organic certification, which means no pesticides or herbicides are used in its production, and the cotton farmers have safe working conditions and an agreed minimum wage.

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Carrinet Veggio reusable fruit & veggie bags: £6.99 for five, Ethical Superstore

This five-bag white mesh set, made from recycled PET bottles, contains a one-litre bag (17 x 15cm), two six-litre bags (30 x 28cm) and two nine-litre bags (30 x 28cm). The larger ones have a seam on two sides and a green drawstring cord, and have been stress-tested to 10kg – perfect for loads of onions and potatoes. The smallest has a sliding-bead closure, making it ideal for other produce. All of them have a label designed to attach price stickers to, if the supermarket operates a self-weighing system.

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A Slice of Green organic cotton mesh produce bag variety pack: £7 for three, A Slice of Green

This set of three small, medium and large bags (18 x 22cm; 26 x 32cm; 34 x 38cm – the largest would easily take a couple of cabbages or cauliflowers) – are designed and distributed by a Wiltshire-based company and responsibly produced by a family-run business in Tamil Nadu, India. They are made from organic and unbleached cotton that is The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified. There’s no bottom seam, only side seams, which means fewer weak points, and they close with a cotton drawstring. The tare weight features on the label of each bag, too.

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Eco Living reusable produce bags: £6.99 for three, Boobalou

This set includes both finely woven cotton fabric and cotton mesh bags. The cotton fabric bag measures 28 x 32cm, and the fabric is slightly sheer so you – and the sales assistant – can see what’s inside. The cotton mesh bag (30 x 38cm) is robustly constructed with side and top seams reinforced with cotton tape, and a label with the tare weight. The bag designed for bread is 28 x 38cm and is made of thicker cotton to keep that crust crisp, but there’s no reason why you couldn’t fill it with fresh produce.

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Legooms reuseable vegetable and produce bags: £11.95 for six, Postera​

With a name based on the French for vegetables (legumes), these were the first reusable produce bags to be made from recycled bottles. The set of six comes in a neat green pouch and contains two each of three sizes: 20 x 30cm; 30 x 35cm and 30 x 43cm. Each has a label for attaching a weigh-it-yourself price sticker, and the drawstrings are colour-coded in brown, yellow and green from largest to smallest. The tare weight also appears on the label.

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Elephant Box cotton mesh produce bags: £13 for three, Trouva

The company slogan neatly sums it up: "choose to reuse and be part of the solution". Strong overlocked seams mean that the small bag (16 x 22cm) will take 750g tomatoes or five onions; the medium (23 x 28cm) can handle 2kg of onions or apples and the large (30 x 36cm) will swallow 4kg of spuds. The tare weight is printed on the packaging, although not on the bag itself. Washing before use is recommended because of shrinkage, but we’d be happy to take our chances. The suppliers are based in India and have admirable ethical values and working conditions for their employees.

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Dexam reusable drawstring fruit and vegetable bags: £8.50 for five, Dexam

In your pack of five bags from Dexam, you'll recieve two large bags (33 x 40cm), two medium (30x28cm) and one small (17x15cm), into which they all fit. All have a label for affixing a price sticker. We found these easiest to discern the contents – because they’re made from polyester – which may be an issue if you’re concerned about fibre-shedding during the washing process. We reckon you’re not likely to wash these that often, not least because washing by hand is recommended, and on the environmental upside, you’ll be using them for a long time.

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Atlas & Ortus organic cotton mesh bag: Small £3, medium £4, large £5, Atlas & Ortus

This company was founded in 2018 by two sisters with a belief that we could all do more to reduce single-use plastics, and this takes the prize for minimal packaging: just a narrow brown paper band printed with washing instructions (30C, leave to air dry), their use: for fruit and vegetables or washing reusable face wipes, and the material it’s made of: GOTS organic cotton. The scale of the mesh is the smallest we tested, and the bag seams are taped for strength. The large size is the biggest we found, at 43 x 32cm, and the medium (26 x 36.5cm) and small (21 x 26cm) are generously proportioned, too.

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Purifyou organic cotton produce bags: £26.97 for nine, Amazon

Packaged in a cardboard drum that you’ll have no problem repurposing, this set of no fewer than nine bags should meet the needs of even the most prodigious plant-based eater, comprising two small bags (30 x 20cm), five medium (30 x 35cm) and two large (30 x 43cm). All have double-stitched seams for strength, and a nifty metal toggle fastening on the drawstring cord, plus the tare weight on the colour-coded-according-to-size labels.

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The verdict: Reusable produce bags

For that handy little clip-on storage pouch and for taking plastic bottles out of the eco-cycle, we say "good on ya" to Onya. If you’re on a budget, Carrinet Veggio’s five bags for £6.99 is also great value.


What reusable bags are best for the environment? ›

Canvas, nylon, polyester, or recycled plastic bags are not just eco-friendly, but they also can hold a lot more stuff than flimsy high-density polyethylene (HDPE). They're also much more comfortable to carry, either over the shoulder or in the hand.

Are reusable produce bags worth it? ›

While the average disposable plastic produce bags available in most supermarkets may seem like a fine option, they can actually cut the shelf-life of your produce if you don't leave them open. Plastic traps moisture, but reusable mesh bags allow air to circulate, which can help prevent premature spoilage.

Do Ziploc produce bags work? ›

I use them for just about all of my produce with excellent results. The key to success with these bags is making sure the produce is completely dry before placing inside. I also like the bags because they don't take up so much space as some of the produce containers, and they can be hand washed and reused a few times.

What will replace plastic produce bags? ›

The law makes California the first state in the nation to phase out pre-checkout bags, which must now be replaced with recycled paper bags or those made of compostable materials. The law as set forth in SB 1046 takes effect on Jan. 1, 2025.

Which type of bag is most environmentally friendly? ›

A major advantage of plastic bags is that, when compared to other types of shopping bags, producing them carries the lowest environmental toll. The thin, plastic grocery store bags are most commonly made from high-density polyethylene (HDPE).

Which bag is most environment friendly? ›

But on the other hand, Reusable Bags like Paper Bag, Cotton Bag, Canvas Bag or Jute Bag are made from compositable and biodegradable materials which make them 100% environmentally friendly.

What are 5 benefits of reusable bags? ›

Here are some compelling reasons why you should switch to reusable shopping bags.
  • Save Resources. Plastic bags may seem light and inoffensive but they have a surprisingly large environmental footprint. ...
  • Prevent Pollution. ...
  • Save Money. ...
  • Better Quality. ...
  • Suit Your Style. ...
  • Declutter Your Space.
Jun 9, 2022

Why is reusable bags better? ›

Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Plastic bag litter has also been the culprit of flooding as they clog drains important to proper drainage. Reusable bags made from renewable resources help to prevent the buildup of greenhouse gases.

How long do reusable produce bags last? ›

The lifespan of a reusable grocery bag depends on factors such as the material it's made from, how often it's used, and how well it's cared for. With proper care, cotton and canvas bags can last up to three to five years, respectively, while polyester and nylon bags can last up to two to five years, respectively.

Does fruit last longer in Ziploc bags? ›

Produce that keeps best at room temperature needs air circulation. Plastic bags equal premature spoilage. Even if the bananas, potatoes, or onions you bought came in a perforated plastic bag, they'll last longer if you take them out and let them breathe.

Can I store broccoli in a ziplock? ›

Broccoli & Cauliflower: To keep fresh, break up heads and refrigerate in a Ziploc® brand storage bag.

How can I buy produce without plastic bags? ›

Woven mesh or net bags work well for buying fruit and vegetables. While you don't need to put a handful of apples or a head of cabbage in a bag, some veggies are wet and are more easily transported using reusable produce bags.

Are mesh bags good for produce? ›

Mesh Produce Bags replace plastic and net bags, and are great for both produce shopping and storage. The mesh fabric is highly stretchable, allows for easy identification of contents, and provides excellent air circulation. You can hang full bags of onions, potatoes, and garlic by the drawstring for extra pantry space.

Are mesh bags good for vegetables? ›

Use Produce Bags in place of disposable plastic produce bags to hold your fruits & veggies. Mesh Bags are ideal for thick skinned produce like apples & oranges, or root vegetables like onions, potatoes, & garlic. For produce that needs ventilation, hang the produce right in the Mesh Bag in a pantry to air dry.

Which bag has lowest environment footprint? ›

Plastic bags environmental footprint

According to the study, the plastic bags are the greenest ones. In eight out of nine impact categories (i.a., carbon footprint, ecotoxicity, eutrophication, human toxication), it has the lowest impact among all tested bag types.

What bags are better than plastic? ›

1 | Recycled Paper Bags

Unlike plastic, paper bags are 100% recyclable! Paper bags can decompose more quickly than plastic bags. Just imagine, it takes around 20-30 years for a plastic bag to degrade in a landfill! Some scientists say that it can even last up to 200 years.

Which bag has the highest carbon footprint? ›

Paper bag production requires more energy and more water than plastic bag production. Furthermore, paper bags produce 70% more air pollutants than plastic bags and 50% more water pollutants than plastic bags. Paper bags also produce more GHG emissions than plastic bags.

What is a environmental friendly bag? ›

A high-quality, environmentally safe bag is manufactured from materials that will not harm the natural environment. Production of these bags does not include the use of harmful chemicals and the bags are biodegradable. There are no negative impacts made on the environment with the production of eco-friendly bags.

What is the most environmentally friendly plastic? ›

Polylactic Acid-Based Plastic (PLA)

Considered to be the most promising sustainable biopolymer currently available, as it is uniquely 100% renewable, biosourced, and biodegradable. PLA is derived from lactic acid produced by sugar cane or corn by fermenting dextrose.

What is a fact about reusable bags? ›

Reusable bags are easier to carry than paper or plastic, can hold more items per bag, and make less garbage! Remember, if you are buying just a few items, it's okay to go without a bag altogether.

How many reusable bags should I have? ›

Hold Onto No More Than 12 or So Bags

"I recommend keeping four to five of the thicker reusable grocery bags, two insulated bags for cold items, and definitely no more than five of the fabric/cotton totes," she says.

What bags are reusable? ›

Reusable Bag Types
  • Kraft Paper Bags.
  • LDPE Wave Top or Soft Loop Bags.
  • NWPP Bags.
  • Laminated PP Bags.
  • Recycled Laminated PET Bags.
  • Used Grocery Box.

Should you wash reusable bags? ›

Wash bags after each use, following care instructions. See the fabric care label or the table below for more details. Wipe insulated bags with a disinfecting or sanitizing cloth, especially along the seams.

What are most reusable bags made of? ›

Polypropylene (PP)

Most of your supermarket 'reusable' bags are made of nonwoven PP- not the thicker plastic-y bags, but the ones that feel a little like fabric. This is another extracted resource, but polypropylene is at least readily recyclable.

What are the weaknesses of reusable bags? ›

Cheap-quality reusable shopping bags are often made of poor-quality materials and constructed with subpar craftsmanship due to the low price point. As a result, they don't last very long and end up being tossed away after a few uses due to tearing seams and/or weak materials that cannot handle heavier weights.

Which bag is good for keeping vegetables? ›

Vegetable Storage Bags To Keep Your Veggies And Fruits Fresh (June, 2023)
Product NameApprox. Price in Rs.
Zipify 15 Pcs ziplock Pouch Vegetable Bag Zip Lock299
Fab Ellite Cotton Cloth Vegetable Fridge Storage Bag339
Trillium Set of 12 Reusable Fridge Double layer Storage Bag284
Kuber Industries Reusable Mesh Fridge Bag167
4 more rows
Mar 2, 2023

Why do Debbie Meyers green bags work? ›

GreenBags and other similar products contain a mineral that absorbs ethylene, so they do the exact opposite of the banana trick, slowing down the ripening and en-wilt-ening process. (The bags will keep bananas themselves from going brown as quickly, too.)

Can you wash reusable produce bags? ›

Wash them by hand in warm soapy water and line dry. Cotton and canvas reusable grocery bags are the easiest to clean! Throw them in the washer with detergent and hot water and you're good to go. They're even dryer-friendly.

Are reusable ziplock bags worth it? ›

Reusable sandwich bags are an eco-friendly way to start reducing the copious amounts of plastic waste being thrown into landfills daily. Plus, buying them can end up being cheaper than regularly buying disposable sandwich bags—you buy them once, and they can last for years.

How do you freeze sandwiches without plastic? ›

Freeze Food in Stainless Steel Containers

Like glass containers, metal containers can also be reused over and over again. They are a great solution for those who want to freeze food without plastic.

Is silicone better than plastic? ›

Silicone, which is made from silica found in sand, is much longer lasting than plastic in the environment as well as while being used in products. Silicone endures extreme fluctuations in temperatures - from very cold to oven hot - without melting, cracking or otherwise degrading.

What fruit should not be refrigerated? ›

Avocado, apples, bananas, citrus fruits, berries, peaches, apricots, and nectarines should be stored out of the fridge. Refrigerating these fruits will result in loss of flavors and textures.

What vegetables should not go in the refrigerator? ›

Produce You Shouldn't Store in the Fridge
  • Onions.
  • Potatoes.
  • Winter Squash (like Butternut and Acorn)
  • Sweet Potatoes.
  • Tomatoes.
  • Bananas.
  • Persimmons.
Nov 27, 2022

Can you store strawberries in a Ziploc bag? ›

For whole berries: Freeze the berries in a single layer on a baking sheet to keep them from getting stuck together. Once they're solid, transfer the berries to a container, such as FreezerWare™, or a zip freezer bag such as Glad® Freezer Zipper Gallon Bags.

Can you store berries in a Ziploc bag? ›

Yes, you can use zip lock bags to store fruits in the refrigerator. Ziplock bags are a convenient and efficient way to store fruits and keep them fresh. Just make sure to choose the right size bag for the amount of fruit you want to store and ensure the bag is sealed properly.

How do you keep broccoli fresh for 2 weeks? ›

Stash the broccoli in a cold part of your refrigerator — like the crisper drawer — preferably away from fruits and that produce excessive ethylene gas like apples. If there's no room in the crisper, store it on a shelf near the back of the fridge.

What can I use as a produce bag? ›

14 Alternatives to Single-Use Produce Bags (that are free and zero waste)
  • Reuse Plastic Produce Bags You Already Have. Ok, this may sound a little obvious but you would be surprised how many people don't reuse them. ...
  • Paper Bags. ...
  • Biobags. ...
  • Re-purpose Old Pillow Cases. ...
  • Use a Cardboard Box. ...
  • Re-Use Bulk Bags. ...
  • Shopping Bags. ...
  • Go Nude.

What is the 10 cent bag fee? ›

The 10 cent charge: Offsets the greater cost of paper and reusable bags for the grocers/retailers. Ensures that customers who bring their own bags don't have to supplement the cost of other shoppers' bags anymore. Encourages the use of reusable bags.

Why did sprouts stop using paper bags? ›

Sprouts said in the press release it decided to stop offering paper bags because they “are generally not reusable, often are not recycled (with 80% ending up in landfill) and have a high environmental cost in terms of water, energy and raw materials used in their manufacture.”

Which vegetable fiber is often used to make eco-friendly carry bags? ›

Jute material is a natural vegetable fibre which is made from the outer stem and skin of a jute plant. Jute is an incredibly versatile material which also makes up hessian cloth, however, it is most commonly used now for making durable items such as eco-friendly jute bags.

Are silicone bags good for vegetables? ›

Silicone vegetable bags keep your vegetables crispy fresh as they are freezer safe. In contrast, plastic produce bags don't. Silicone bags are versatile as they can be used for steaming veggies, boiling and even freezing.

What can you use instead of a mesh bag? ›

The best alternative to a mesh laundry bag is a pillowcase. Putting your delicates in a pillowcase allows the water and detergent to soak through the pillowcase and wash the items inside. The pillowcase also protects them from being thrown about by the spinning drum.

Are reusable bags really good for the environment? ›

The short answer: No. As The Atlantic shares in its latest piece, misguided environmentalists constantly drill the idea that “reusable” bags are the environmentally friendly option, despite the fact that “canvas bags might actually be worse for the environment than the plastic ones they are meant to replace.”

Which type of carry bag has lowest environmental footprint? ›

Plastic bags environmental footprint

According to the study, the plastic bags are the greenest ones. In eight out of nine impact categories (i.a., carbon footprint, ecotoxicity, eutrophication, human toxication), it has the lowest impact among all tested bag types.

Are reusable shopping bags environmentally friendly? ›

By using a reusable shopping bag, you can decrease the resources used on plastic bag production and disposal and protect the environment from plastic pollution. At the same time, you can save money, look stylish, and enjoy a better quality of life.

What is the disadvantage of using eco bag? ›

Bacteria Growth

There are some cons to having an eco-friendly canvas shopping bag, and the big one is bacteria.

Are reusable silicone bags better for the environment? ›

Most silicone products are highly reusable, unlike single-use plastics. This makes them a better choice for the planet.

What can we use instead of eco bags and plastic bags? ›

In the next section of this article, we present eco friendly materials that can be used as substitutes for plastic.
  • Paper bags. Paper bags are 100% biodegradable meaning they can be used for composting. ...
  • Cotton bags. ...
  • Jute bags. ...
  • Polypropylene. ...
  • Hemp. ...
  • Nylon. ...
  • Polyester. ...
  • Compostable bags.
Oct 27, 2022

What are two environmental benefits of reusable shopping bags? ›

Reusable bags are tougher and more resilient than single use plastics, meaning they last longer. This also means there is a lower number needing to be disposed of, which reduces the amount that end up in landfill or in our oceans, also reducing the harm to marine life or animals caused by them.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of reusable bags? ›

Advantages of Reusable Bags
  • Reusable. One of the biggest advantages to using reusable grocery bags is that they're reusable! ...
  • Environmental Impact. Which brings us to the next advantage: environmental impact. ...
  • Money Saving. ...
  • Multipurpose. ...
  • Personal and Creative. ...
  • Bacteria. ...
  • Extra Baggage. ...
  • Difficult to Dispose Of.
Dec 26, 2019

How many times does a reusable bag need to be used? ›

Even if you took your bags to the store every day, it would still take you nearly two decades to reach that mark. Reusable bags made from durable plastic materials like nonwoven polypropylene have a smaller carbon footprint, and only need to be used around 37 times before the purchase pays off.

What bags are biodegradable? ›

Compostable bags have natural components. These bags are made with natural plant starch and are free from toxic material. Compostable bags, as their name entails, can be put in your compost system and will break down quickly to form compost.

What would happen if everyone used reusable bags? ›

#2 Clean up cities, parks and oceans – because plastic bags are so lightweight, the wind easily blows them out of trashcans, refuse trucks and landfill sites to litter the landscape. If we replace them with reusable bags, our surroundings will gradually become clean and beautiful once again.

How long does a reusable bag last? ›

Generally, reusable shopping bags last between 3-4 years. But the lifespan of your reusable depends on a lot of factors like materials, how often you use them and how you look after them.


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