Reusable Produce Bags: A Green Alternative to Plastic

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reusable washable produce bagsAfter a visit to the supermarket, a pack of plastic bags in the trash can made me stop for a moment; such a heap is thrown away at each house nearby and, even worse, in the whole country. After some research, I found out that every minute, people all over the world discard approximately 1 million plastic bags. The figure is terrifying, especially if I mention that only a small amount of them is recycled because it’s too expensive and plastic certainly isn’t biodegradable. But reusable produce bags especially the ones made from cotton can be very good substitute for these plastic bags and the good thing about them is that they are washable as well.

The whole thing is rather odd: we use these bags, paper or plastic, just to bring something home and then throw them away. Why do this each time, if we can use the same bag every day? The logic is simple and the benefits of reusable bags are enormous. That’s what everyone can actually do instead of talking passionately about “green” issues.

Comparison Chart of reusable produce bags

PictureNameNo of bagsPriceRating
best cotton produce bagsReusable Produce Bags Made from Organic Cotton6$5.0
Augbunny 100% Cotton Durable Drawstring Muslin Produce Bags6$$4.9
Green Home Habits Reusable Produce Bags5$$$4.9
Owl Trail Organic Muslin Cotton Reusable Produce Bags6$$$4.8
Magnolia Organics Reusable Organic Produce Bag5$4.8
Simple Ecology Organic Cotton Muslin Produce Bag6$$$4.5
The Original Eco Friendly Washable and Reusable Produce Bags5$4.5

Independent Reviews of reusable and washable produce bags available in the market

1. Reusable Produce Bags Made from 100% Organic Cotton by Organic Cotton Mart – Cotton Produce Bags – The Best & Highly Recommendedreusable washable produce bags

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#1 on our list is reusable and washable 100% organic cotton produce bags. Organic Cotton Mart’s reusable produce bags are the simplest in design: they are natural in color and have a drawstring.  It’s made out of 100% organic cotton. Personally, I would pay to know that the item is free of pesticides and processing chemicals. Adding to the fact that these bags are also designed to store food, it’s even more important for them not to contain any chemicals. Producers suggest dampening the fabric to preserve greens or vegetables in the fridge so that they will stay fresh and crispy. As to the size of the bag, you can choose from different sets of XS, S, M, L, and XL, but I’ve chosen a set of S, M, and L as the most all-purpose one. It contains two bags of each size totaling 6 in total.

The reviewers say these bags are definitely better than plastic. You can put anything in them, even flour, and be sure the product is safe. A slight drawback is the tare weight indicated inside the bag, which may lead to confusion at the checkout. Remember that the weight of the bag has to be subtracted.

The material is 100% organic cotton but what I like even more is the size: the L-sized one is 12 by 15 inches. They also have a X-Large version which is 14 by 18 inches and that’s the largest cotton bag I’ve managed to find. There are also the XS, S and M sizes for smaller items and they all come in packs of 3 in the same size. Stuff them with plenty of fruits or wet greens and the products will be well preserved in your refrigerator.

All the reviews for this product are positive as well, indicating it’s one of the best alternatives to plastic packs available. Customers store bulk products, groceries and even clothes in them. You can easily wash and dry the bags in the washing machine although shrinkage is possible. Despite the relatively high price, people buy these reusable bags and are pleased with the good quality.

2. Reusable Produce Bags 5 Pack by Green Home Habits

cotton produce bags

These are stylish mesh bags that come in a set of 3 or 5 (it’s up to you to choose) with a bonus of a muslin cotton bag for flour, sugar, salt, or other bulk substances. The cotton they are made of is produced according to GOTS so you can be sure of their quality. The bags are well sewn and strong drawstrings close them safely. Due to the fact that they are made of mesh material, the cashier won’t have to rummage inside because everything is easily seen through the fabric. It’s hard to find organic cotton mesh bags, so this is one of the few alternatives.

There’s not a single negative review, so it seems like everybody enjoys his or her purchase. The bags look good, adjust to the shape of products put into them, and may be used for multiple purposes. There’s also a cute tree design on the muslin cotton bag indicating you’re an environmentalist and encouraging you to use the bag each time you go shopping.

3. Owl Trail Reusable Produce Bags 6 Pack

ecofriendly produce bags

The pack includes 6 bags: 2 large (16 by 12 inches), 2 medium (12 by 8 inches), and 2 small (6 by 10 inches) and that’s the only set of sizes. However, you still have an opportunity to choose. It’s nice the material is muslin cotton, which makes the bags safe and eco-friendly. However, producers advise to air-dry them after washing in the machine so that the material isn’t damaged.

Those who already use Owl Trail produce bags claim they are an excellent replacement for plastic packages. The bags simply serve their purpose and make customers happy. The design is unassuming but attractive, so people in the shops and farmers’ markets will wonder where they can get such nice bags as well. Owl Trail bags will certainly make you proud of being environmentally friendly! What I didn’t like about them is that there’s no tare weight label on them, so this will add a bit to your expenses when you get weighed produce.

4. Magnolia Organics Reusable Produce Bags 5 Set

muslin cotton produce bags

Magnolia bags don’t seem to be extremely popular with customers, but their qualities are rather convincing. 100% certified cotton with good breathability would certainly make for perfect food transporting and preservation. They look unpretentious with a smart tree design and have a simple drawstring closure. It’s a 5-bag set and each package is sized 10 by 12 inches. They’re not large but will do for nuts, herbs, or up to 6 apples.

There aren’t many reviews but the majority are positive. Customers are satisfied with its quality and sturdiness. One of the best traits about them is that they are easily machine-washed, unlike the previous items. However, it’s better to hang them up to dry because the manufacturers warn they may shrink a little after the first wash. People love the tree design, so I would consider these bags as a great present for an environmentally concerned friend.

5. Simple Ecology Produce Bag

simple ecology cotton produce bags

These bags are on #5 of our list of best 6 and they will suit even the most conscientious environmentalist: they are made of GOTS-certified (Global Organic Textile Standards) cotton but these bags are a bit more expensive than our best washable produce bags which are also made of 100% organic cotton.

6. Washable and Reusable Produce Bags By Naturally ConsciousTM

produce bags from cotton

When shopping in the produce market, these bags are a great no-waste alternative to plastic single-use ones. They are better (but obviously not the best, the best is this one) than many washable produce bags. The manufacturers warn it’s better to hand-wash them in warm water so that the color won’t fade. They come in a set of 5, the size of each bag is 12 by 14 inches. That’s larger than most plastic bags offered in stores, and enough to pack leafy vegetables, bananas or dry snacks. You can put a lot inside and they won’t tear due to their high durability. Another advantage is multi-usability: you can pack your travel or hobby items, shoes, medicine, cosmetics, or accessories.

The customers claim these bags will last for ages. They are so sturdy and solid that they seem heavy. Everyone agrees that Naturally Conscious bags appear to be well-made and easy to wash and dry. The color isn’t just an aesthetic detail – it helps to identify what you’ve put inside because you can’t see through the material. Some complain that their favorite bags lost their color after washing, so you’ve got to be careful with it.

5 Reasons Why I Switched to Reusable Produce Bags and especially cotton produce bags

  1. Plastic bags are one of the main pollutants.

When it comes to dumps, a plastic bag can easily fly away. Consequently, we see them hanging on trees and floating along the coastlines. Due to their light weight, plastic bags “migrate” even to the Arctic Circle and the Falkland Islands.

  1. They kill sea animals.

I was shocked at the numbers of dolphins, whales, and turtles that die because they mistake plastic waste for food. Almost one million birds each year get entangled in plastic bags and die as well. Although there are companies responsible for cleaning coastlines, it’s we ourselves who must stop it.

  1. Paper ones are no better.

If you consider paper bags more environmentally friendly because they are biodegradable, you are wrong. The amount of energy, wood, and water necessary for their production outweigh all the pros of their decomposability.

  1. Reusable produce bags save money.

They prove to be cheaper in the long run, especially if you use them often. By the way, some supermarkets offer discounts if you come with your own reusable bag.

  1. It’s a fashion trend now.

Reusable bags come in a variety of colors and shapes so you can always choose one that suits you. Being an environmentalist is so fashionable today that famous designers have started creating stylish shopping bags to meet the needs of their customers!

Choosing the Safest Type of Washable Produce Bags

The variety of different kinds of bags on the market is so great that it’s easy to get lost. I suggest dividing all of them into three groups to find out those that suit the purpose best – the “greenest” and safest ones.

  1. Fabric bags.

Fabric bags were the first to offer reusability. They are considered organic and thus environmentally friendly, though it’s not that simple. Cotton, calico, hemp and jute bags pose some threats to the environment as any other bag produced. For example, cotton production stands for 16% of the total pesticides use in the world, plus lots of water is necessary. Organic cotton is better since it grows without pesticides and fertilizers. Calico bags require less processing and are cheaper. Hemp and jute aren’t very popular because they are imported. However, all fabric bags are durable, biodegradable, and can be easily machine-washed.

  1. Plastic reusable produce bags.

The materials of plastic bags also vary significantly. They can be made of PET (polyethylene terephthalate), PP (polypropylene), polyethylene, and nylon. PET looks like fabric but is made of recycled plastic bottles, so that’s a good thing. All plastic bags are lightweight and sturdy, but none of them is biodegradable and the production of each plastic item leads to greenhouse gas emissions. Here is also our review of Debbie Meyer Green Bags.

  1. Paper bags.

Many shops offer paper bags, which can be used many times. They are biodegradable and recyclable but not durable at all. Once they get wet, it’s time to throw them away. I wouldn’t consider them the best option but the point is that you can use the cheapest paper bag several times. Moreover, they often have nice prints!

Each of the types has its advantages and disadvantages but the most important thing is that they are reusable. To benefit the environment you’ll have to use such a bag for a hundred times, but it’s worth doing. Reusability has its threats, so to eliminate the risk of food poisoning I would recommend washing any of them after each visit to the supermarket of groceries. Since cotton bags are strong, the most machine-wash-friendly, and are free of dangerous chemical evaporation, I prefer them to plastic and paper ones.

However, the next step is to choose an item that will help you contribute to environmental protection. It has to be comfortable, safe, and of good quality for you not to regret the purchase. I’ve chosen 6 of the “greenest” and most popular reusable bags on Amazon that have these features.

To Sum Up

Taking all the options above into account, I would recommend Simple Ecology reusable produce bags since they possess all the necessary eco-features and are popular with customers. I paid lots of attention to the GOTS-certified cotton fabric because it’s a guarantee of high quality and safety, both to the food and the environment. Nevertheless, the other options aren’t bad at all, though the 100% positive reviews for the last two items seemed pretty suspicious to me.

Actually, the only thing that matters is the decision to turn to reusable bags, however primitive it may sound. Remember that taking this small step is the beginning of a new way to a healthy and clean planet.

Reasons to go for Reusable Produce/Cotton Bags

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