A simple, yet effective way to reduce your plastic footprint is to stop using the clear plastic produce bags you put your fruit and veggies into when you grocery shop, and switch to reusable produce bags. This small step can make a huge difference to your plastic reduction. Eco produce bags are an inexpensive and great environmental alternative to the clear plastic bags that are almost always used once and then thrown away, since they are difficult to recycle.
We have come up with a list of some of the best options for reusable produce bags that are easy to use, easy to clean and are very durable.
purifyou Premium Reusable Mesh / Produce Bags
Purifyou Premium Reusable Mesh Produce Bags are one of the most popular mesh produce options going these days. They work great for both replacing plastic bags that you put fruit and veg in at the store, and also using them to store your fruit and veg so they last longer. They couldn’t be easier to clean, just throw them in your washing machine and then air dry. They come in a variety of sizes that is a little more extensive than some brands. With this set you get 9 mesh bags, that includes 2 small 12×8 inches, 5 medium/large 12×14 inches, and 2 extra large that are 12×17 inches.
The mesh material helps to maintain the right amount of moisture for your produce, so everything tends to last longer. They have tare tags to help ensure you only play for what you are buying and not the weight of the bag, although they don’t weight much at all. The material is BPA, lead, and mercury free, and Purifyou offer a lifetime warranty if you run into any issues.
What is also worth noting about the Purifyou brand is that they donate a portion of each sale to charities that promote sustainable living
Earthwise Reusable Mesh Produce Bags
Earthwise also have good quality, inexpensive bags that work really well when purchasing produce at the grocery store. This brand is one of the best options if you want a bag that is easy to see what is inside. They are very lightweight, allowing them to be a little less opaque than some of the other brands, so it is easy for a cashier to see what is inside without having to open it. They are so thin that barcodes are able to be scanned through the mesh.The Earthwise bags are all the same size of 11 inches X 13.5 inches and the sizing makes them perfect for all kind of produce. They don’t have tare labels, but they weigh less than 1/3 of an ounce, so you won’t be paying for much extra weight. They come with a durable drawstring for closing securely, and they are machine washable.
Flip & Tumble Produce Bags
These are the ones that I have been using for the last year or so, and I think they are fantastic. They are a little opaque so they aren’t the easiest to see through if the cashier is looking for the code, but I usually just leave the top open when going through the checkout. The cashier never seems to have any trouble seeing what’s in the bag and finding the code if he or she needs to. I like the little colored tags, but don’t really stick with any kind of system when using them. I guess a more organized person would put the same type of fruit and veg in each bag based on color, but I’m more willy nilly about what goes where. The bags are all the same size of 12 by 14 inches. My only issue has been I could probably use at least one slightly larger bag, because I buy an unusually large about of Swiss chard that ends up hanging out of the opening (same problem with celery). Not a big deal, but I will probably order some extra large sizes from a different brand to compare. They are very sturdy, yet only weight .4 ounces and are made with 100% polyester.
Bekith 15 Pack Premium Reusable Produce Bags
This 15 pack from Bekith are great due to the variety of sizes and number of bags that you get for a very low price. This set comes with 5 large, 5 medium and 5 small bags, so you can use them for storing all kinds of things. Like most of the other popular options they are made from polyester mesh. They are easy to wash and have color coded tags so you know what size you are using. These Bekith bags can hold up to 11 pounds, so they are pretty strong and are great for heavier items like potatoes. They have a drawstring and poplock, so they are easy to open and you are able to close them securely ensuring nothing slips out. Generally most people aren’t going to need 15 bags for each time they shop, but if you use two cars or have multiple people in one family who do the grocery shopping, this is a great set that you can divide up and you will always have them available. You can use the bags for plenty of other things since the sizing and amount you get make them very versatile.
Simple Ecology Produce Bag
If you would prefer to not use the polyester mesh type of material, you can get different fabrics including these Simple Ecology Organic Cotton Muslin bags. They come as a set of 6 (2 large, 2 medium and 2 small).These are great, not only because you can use them for all kinds of produce, but you can also use them for grains and flour which you are unable to do with the mesh options. Many people also like these for storing food to keep it fresher longer. You can even dampen these the muslin and the store leafy greens keeping them from shriveling up, as opposed to the mesh bags that are not recommended for storing leafy greens. If anything starts to wilt, just run the whole bag under water, or rinse the greens inside and stick it back in the fridge. These Simple Ecology bags are well constructed and the tare weight is listed on the outside of the bag.
Washable and Reusable Produce Bags By Naturally Conscious
This option from Naturally Conscious have a little bit of a different mesh than some of the brands we listed above. They are made of nylon mesh that isn’t quite as tightly woven as some of the polyester mesh styles, allowing the bags to be fairly transparent. They fold up tightly so they are easy to store and transport. The five bags are all the same size at 12 x 14 inches, but they come with different colored bands at the opening. Some users have mentioned that the different colored bands bleed color when first washed, so you need to be careful the first time you wash them. The tare weight is not labelled on the bags.
Choosing Reusable Produce Bags
Fabric – For a long time the most popular options for eco bags were made from organic cotton or calico. Most fabric bags are a little more environmentally friendly than the plastic ones because they are biodegradable. However, lately the more popular brands are using plastic reusable materials made from polyester and nylon. Whichever material you choose, most of the different brands are durable, washable, and are a much better option than the one time use, clear plastic bags.
Cleaning- When you are using reusable containers that contain food, you need to be a careful you are cleaning them properly in order to avoid any mold or contamination issues. For the most part, the bags that we have listed above are extremely durable and very easy to clean. Generally the bags can be washed in a washing machine and air dried. Some of them can also be put into a dishwasher to clean, I’m not sure why you would do this but I guess it is a thing. You can always hand wash if you would like to extend the life of the bags for as long as possible. Almost all of these types of bags should be air dried to avoid shrinkage and wrinkles.
Tare weight – If you are concerned about the bags adding extra weight to your purchases, you will want to get a brand that lists the tare weight on them. Tare weight is basically just the weight of the bag. Depending on where you shop, you should be able get the tare weight taken off the total weight of the goods that you are buying. If you shop at bulk stores, organic supermarkets and stores, health food shops, or the new zero waste grocery stores that are popping up you will definitely want to check out styles with tare weights, since the staff at these types of stores can deal with it easily. The tare weight is sometimes listed on color coded tags or on the outside near the opening. Most of the bags weight very little, so they don’t make a huge difference in the cost of what you are buying.
Transparency – It is tough to find a reusable option that is transparent in the same way that the clear plastic is. People often worry that the cashier won’t be able to see through the bag and it will add a bit of inconvenience to the cashier. If you are worried about this, you can take one of the stickers from the produce and stick it to the outside of the bag near the opening or you can leave the bag open with the sticker or tags clearly showing so the cashier just has to look in. In my experience doing this over the past year, the cashiers really don’t seem bothered about having to look in bag for the sticker or to see what’s in it.
How much can they hold? The larger sizes can usually hold up to 10 lbs safely, with some going a little bit higher. Obviously the smaller sizes will hold less volume and less weight. If you are looking for a brand that needs to hold something in the 10 lbs plus range look for a strong mesh with double stitching
Storing Food– A lot of individuals use these bags for storing the food once they have brought it home and put it in the fridge. You can keep your produce lasting a bit longer by using eco bags because it allows the produce to breathe, while also keeping it away from other produce.This will work for most fruit and veg, but you may want to avoid storing leafy greens in mesh products as they may wilt quicker.
Toxin and BPA free-It is always a good idea to make sure any items that you buy that are storing food are BPA free. Most manufacturers know this and are ensuring that the materials are safe and toxin free so they won’t add any extra chemicals into your food sources.
Multi Functional– These types of bags don’t have to only be used for food storage. People use them for all kind of things like storing small items when traveling, using them for shoes, cosmetics and toiletries, accessories, kids toys, and even taking items to the beach.
If you have always hated using the terrible for the environment, disposable plastic bags that are offered in grocery stores, you should definitely pick up some reusable produce bags that are easy to use, easy to store and are washable so you can keep everything clean.