Which reusable produce bag is best?
If you’re concerned about the environment and want to do your part for planet earth, there are many small but impactful actions consumers can take to reduce waste that ends up in landfills. Bringing reusable bags to your supermarket is one way to cut down on the millions of tons of plastic generated every year.
While you may already use reusable grocery bags, many shoppers overlook the multiple plastic produce bags used in one shopping trip to hold and carry fresh produce. Several brands now offer reusable bags designed specifically for produce that you can bring along with you to the store or farmer’s market. Learn more about these eco-friendly products in this shopping guide, which includes reviews of our top picks at the end, such as Naturally Sensible’s Reusable Produce Bags, a set of five bags perfect for the grocery store or farmers’ market.
What to know before you buy reusable produce bags
Before purchasing reusable produce bags, you’ll want to think about the following factors:
Reusable produce bags typically come in sets of three to 15, as most consumers buy more than one type of produce at a time. You’ll want to have bags on hand not only for different fruits and veggies, but also bulk items, such as nuts or coffee beans. Count how many produce bags you use in a typical shopping trip and make your decision based on that.
Many packs include multiple sizes of bags, from small to extra-large. Again, consider your shopping habits when selecting the sizes you need. For example, extra-large bags may be in order if you frequently buy veggies like celery or leeks or have a big household.
Because a lot of produce is weighed to determine its price, the weight of the produce bag is important to consider. Select light bags to keep the total cost of your shopping trip down.
While reusable produce bags should be semi-transparent so that a cashier can easily identify the types of produce they contain, they should also should be durable enough to resist tears. Most reusable produce bags are made out of one of these materials:
- Organic cotton bags have an attractive, natural look and are sturdy. But it’s a heavy material that doesn’t fare well in wet conditions (including your washing machine).
- Jute is a vegetable fiber that makes for a durable yet biodegradable produce bag. However, this natural material also doesn’t hold up well when wet.
- Hemp is another strong plant material, but it stands out from the first two options because it’s usually machine washable. However, hemp produce bags can be quite pricey.
- Polypropylene is a flexible but incredibly sturdy plastic material. Even though you will be reusing produce bags made from polypropylene, it’s not made from an earth-friendly material, which is why we recommend opting for recycled plastic polypropylene bags if you choose to go this route.
- Polyester is a mold- and water-resistant plastic material used for reusable produce bags. With this material, we also recommend seeking out a recycled option.
- Nylon is a strong, durable, water-resistant material you’ll find in many mesh-style produce bags. Pay attention to the size of the mesh openings, as wider mesh weaves may not be appropriate for smaller items.
What to look for in a quality reusable produce bag
Many reusable produce bags feature color coding, often according to size, so consumers know what they’re reaching for, whether the bag is empty or in the fridge. Some bags also feature tags that identify the tare weight for cashiers to calculate into the final price.
You’ll want your bags to be machine washable, because of the inevitable spills and spoilage that will soil them. Check the manufacturer’s care instructions to see if your bags can be thrown in the washing machine. Some can only be cleaned by hand.
Many bags feature a drawstring at the opening to keep contents from tumbling out, which is a concern especially with small items, such as cherry tomatoes and brussel sprouts.
How much you can expect to spend on reusable produce bags
Expect to pay around $15 for a 15-pack of reusable produce bags made from synthetic materials. The same price will get you about half that quantity if you’re purchasing bags made from natural materials.
Reusable produce bags FAQ
Q. Can I put my reusable produce bags in the fridge?
A. Unless you’re planning to eat your produce right away, we don’t recommend it. Some types of produce need a moist environment to stay crisp and fresh, and most reusable produce bags don’t provide that. You’re better off transferring your produce to food storage containers or reusing plastic storage bags.
Q. Which produce bag materials aren’t machine washable?
A. While we always recommend following the manufacturer’s care instructions, typically bags made from natural fibers can shrink in the washer and dryer. For those bags, we recommend hand washing in cold water and then air drying.
What are the best reusable produce bags to buy?
Top reusable produce bag
What you should know: A set of five nylon mesh produce bags for larger hauls from the farmers’ market.
What you’ll love: These 12-inch by 14-inch bags are roomy to accommodate large items and quantities. Color-coded bags feature drawstring closures. Lightweight material.
What you should consider: Not machine washable.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top reusable produce bags for money
What you need to know: Set of 15 bags in multiple sizes for the conscious consumer on a budget.
What you’ll love: Affordable mesh polyester bags. Transparent and easy for grocers to scan. easy for consumers to clean in the washing machine.
What you should consider: Drawstrings don’t always stayed closed.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
What you need to know: An organic cotton set of nine sustainably sourced produce bags.
What you’ll love: No harsh chemicals or synthetic materials. Pack includes three color-coded sizes. Ethically produced from natural cotton fiber. Comes with a lifetime warranty.
What you should consider: Machine-washable cotton is susceptible to shrinking.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Ana Sanchez writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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