Now that it’s 2021 and we’ve got yet another “hottest year on record” on the books with 2020 it’s more imperative than ever before to lower your carbon footprint through adopting eco-friendly practices. Whether that means using eco-friendly cleaning products to cleanse your home each week, buying eco-friendly gifts in lieu of something more wasteful, swapping out your deodorant or supporting eco-friendly clothing brands — we can all have an impact through our purchasing power. One of the most popular rituals we all share on a weekly basis? A trip to the grocery store. We all need to eat — and fresh produce is one of the things you pretty much have to grab at a grocery store or farmer’s market. One surefire way to make an impact on each of these trips? Instead of using the single-use plastic produce bags they provide at the store, bring your own reusable ones. Reusable produce bags not only save plastic — they also make it easier to store and see produce in your fridge and keep it fresher for longer! It’s an eco-win-win.
Single-use plastics, for those not in the know, are items made of plastic that can realistically only be used once before they need to be thrown away. They’ve got a much shorter shelf life than other, more durable plastics which makes their environmental damage that much more devastating. Since the 1950’s 8.3 billion metric tons of plastics have been produced, and about half of those just in the last 15 years. We’ve got a plastic crisis on our hands — and single-use ones are predominantly to blame.
Single-use plastics are a cheaper alternative to metal, paper or glass staples like silverware, bags, gloves, straws, etc. They’re made of fossil fuel-based petrochemicals and are usually not durable enough to be washed and reused. Some single-use plastics serve a necessary and justified purpose — like latex gloves in hospitals or plastic straws for aiding the disabled in drinking. These instances, however, are only a small fraction of their usage. Americans use 100 billion plastic bags a year and the average family takes home 1,500 plastic bags via grocery trips. If not recycled, these bags end up in landfills and pollute our ocean’s waters — affecting wildlife and damaging ecosystems. If you think this one decision you make every week won’t make a difference — it will, so check out the reusable produce bags below and adopt a pack into your routine.
I personally use reusable produce bags on every trip to the grocery store and love them. Not only do I feel better skipping the flimsy, wasteful plastic bags in the store but when I get home the produce is more visible in my fridge. This helps me plan my meals more efficiently and greatly lowers the chances I forget to eat something and it spoils on my watch. I also have mesh produce bags that make it super easy to wash everything right out of the fridge, and rather than being suffocated in plastic the produce can breathe in these bags and lasts way longer.
Here are my favorite reusable produce bags that are all available to order online. Sure, there’s an upfront cost and a bit more maintenance involved to clean them — but the money you’ll save through your produce lasting longer than a few days and the weight lifted off your environmentally-conscious shoulders will be worth it. There are a few different options you can go with — there are net produce bags that expand significantly to fit other groceries in them, mesh produce bags with color-coded labels and even heavy-duty, washable silicone bags that you can cook your food in. No matter what you decide, your new routine compounded over time will make a difference.
1. Eccowaare Reusable Mesh Produce Bags
BEST OVERALL – EDITOR APPROVED!
This is the pack of reusable produce bags I purchased a few months back and I love them. They’re affordable but feel high quality, there are 15 of varying sizes in this pack which make shopping for produce of differing sizes easy. The red bags are large enough to hold a bunch of sweet potatoes or a giant bunch of dino kale, while the small yellow ones suit a cucumber, pepper or a few heads of garlic. The pull ties close securely and keep my produce safe while in the cart, and the bags are transparent enough to view the produce clearly in the fridge so you eat it before it spoils. I have yet to have a piece of produce spoil on me while using these bags — including herbs like parsley and cilantro!
They’re made of BPA-free, 100% food-contact safe mesh polyester, and the lightweight bags don’t add weight to my produce. I’ve also never had a cashier struggle to scan or identify my item while using this bag, so they haven’t added time to my checkout process. I’ve mostly just been rinsing them in the sink before reusing, but they’re machine-washable as well if you prefer that method.
2. Naturally Sensible Reusable Produce Bags
I love the tight-knit nylon mesh on these reusable produce bags as well as the brightly colored ties at the top. The nylon mesh is strong and durable but you can still easily see through it to identify what’s inside. All of the bags are the same size — so you don’t get the variety of the previous pack, but they measure 12 x 14 inches which is enough room for bananas, long carrots, a head of lettuce and broccoli stocks. They’re lightweight, easy to fold between uses and the fun colors make helping the environment and getting your shopping done fun.
3. Lucky Mesh Produce Bags
This pack of reusable produce bags costs less than your average produce bill in total, so why not make the switch? It doesn’t need to cost a bunch of cash to be environmental, and these eco-friendly produce bags are made with lightweight, breathable mesh polyester so your food stays fresh. You can clearly see what’s inside of each one, and they give produce plenty of room and air to breathe. Each one is double-stitched for durability and can hold up to 11 pounds — in case you find a prized squash you just have to have. Since these are so cheap, why not buy a few packs so you’ll never run out?
4. Stasher Silicone Reusable Storage Bags
As an eco-nerd, Stasher bags are my new expensive obsession. These bags are not cheap, but they’re super high quality and will last for years and years. They’re made of durable, food-grade silicone and can be washed in the dishwasher, put in the freezer, boiled on the stove and put in the microwave without issue. They’re truly leakproof, making them great for storing messy things in the fridge reliably, and the pinch-lock seal along the top makes them super easy to close. I love how sturdy they feel, and their structure makes them perfect for storing smaller produce in your fridge before you’re ready to use it.
5. Earthwise Reusable Mesh Produce Bags
I know what you might be thinking — what happens if these bags get gross over time? Sometimes produce has seeds, juices, and residue and the whole point of single-use bags is that the extra gross stuff gets tossed away with the bag itself. I get it — but thankfully they’re making these reusable bags easier and easier to wash — like these ones from Earthwise. They’re made of transparent, lightweight mesh and are made to be rinsed in the sink and dry easily between uses. Each bag is tested and declared BPA-free, metal-free and 100% food-contact safe before selling — and each one weighs less than 1/3 of an ounce so they won’t add weight to your produce bill.
6. Simple Ecology Organic Cotton Reusable Bags
If you’re trying to avoid plastic altogether, even more durable, reusable plastic — these cotton produce bags are another great option. This natural, breathable, organic cotton fabric is designed to keep fresh fruits and vegetables fresher for longer than plastic bags. They do this by allowing ethylene gas to be released by vegetables and fruits whilst in storage — thus slowing their decay. Each bag has a label with its tare weight in pounds, ounces and grams on the outside so cashiers can reference it easily. This set of six bags contains two of each size — small, medium and large.
7. Mesh String Grocery Bags
BEST GROCERY/PRODUCE BAG
Hopefully you’re already using reusable grocery bags when/where you can, (and if you’re not, why?!) and this bag serves a dual purpose through holding your produce while also stretching and expanding to hold other groceries as well. Each of the mesh bags in this 4-pack are made from pure cotton that’s been spun to be ultra-strong. The materials they’re made of are bio-degradable and reusable — and the cotton makes them easy to wash along with the rest of your laundry. The 13-inch handle makes them easier and more comfortable to carry than other bags, and they have a weight capacity of 40 pounds if need be.
8. Earthwise Cotton Reusable Produce Bags
BEST FOR NUTS & GRAINS
There’s something about the bulk section — with its endless plethora of seeds, nuts, spiced goodies and healthy grains that makes you want to go to town. Many of the reusable produce bags above aren’t knitted tightly enough to hold onto each and every grain available at the store — including flours and sugars. If you’re a bulk bin shopper and want to go green these muslin bags will do the trick. The cotton is knitted tightly enough to hold rice, seeds, beans, grains and much more — and each bag has its weight printed on the front so cashiers can easily subtract while you’re checking out. Each bag can also be washed on the cold cycle and hung to try between uses.
9. Flip and Tumble Reusable Produce Bags
BEST FOR LETTUCE
These Flip & Tumble produce bags are designed to be convenient to use, have colorful tags you can assign to certain produce categories and are the perfect size for a head of lettuce. They’re big enough for larger pieces of produce and also have pull ties on the top of each bag to keep everything secure inside. They’re made from 100% polyester — a lighter, stronger and more durable natural fiber than most — and are also machine-washable. They’re woven with double-sewn seams with tough polyester that’s tear-proof, and are built to last through hundreds of uses.
10. All Cotton and Linen Reusable Produce Bags
BEST FOR POTATOES AND ONIONS
These produce bags from All Cotton and Linen closely resemble bags that onions and potatoes come in in the store — making them a perfect eco-friendly alternative to those, which are frequently made of plastic. Store your sweet potatoes or yellow onions in one of these bad boys and you won’t lose a single piece of skin in the corner of your fridge’s produce drawer. These produce bags only come in large sizes compared to the other options — with the medium starting at 10″ x 12″ and the bags only growing from there. This makes them uniquely suited for larger produce, and the cotton, being harder to keep dry, makes them better for dry produce rather than fruits and veggies frequently spritzed with water at the store.