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There's a better alternative to the plastic bags you find in the produce section of grocery stores. Reusable produce bags are not only more user-friendly, but since most are made of cotton, cornstarch, hemp, or polyester, sustainable satchels are often compostable or biodegradable and typically machine-washable. Plus, they're better for the environment.
"The primary benefit of reusable produce bags is to avoid single-use plastic," says Daniel Hartz, founder of Sustainability Champions. "Single-use plastic causes many environmental issues ranging from how they are made (fossil fuels) to how they are discarded."
The Lotus Sustainables 100% Cotton Produce Bags are our favorite because they have tare weight tags, can hold 25 pounds of produce, and are made from 100% organic cotton.
Ahead are the best reusable produce bags for sustainable grocery shopping.
Best Overall: Lotus Sustainables 100% Cotton Produce Bags Set of 5
Tare weight tags
1% for the Planet
Not made in the U.S.
What do buyers say? 92% of 50+ Amazon reviewers rated this product 4 stars or above
The Lotus Sustainables 100% Cotton Produce Bags are our favorite because these simple-looking bags are packed with thoughtful features such as tare weight tags and a hefty 25-pound capacity. Plus, Lotus Sustainables is on a mission to eliminate plastic bags from shopping.
When shopping for reusable bags, larger openings allow for more airflow, which is good for fruits, but more tightly woven fabrics can be better for keeping veggies fresh. Some bags display the tare weight on the tag, making it easier for your cashier at the supermarket. These Lotus Sustainables bags encompass all of these features.
This set of five bags includes one large, two medium, and two small bags, each made of 100 percent raw organic cotton. These handy satchels have drawstring closures with wooden beads and tare weight tags on the sides so you can pack these breathable bags with lemons or tangerines. Lotus Produce Bags are notably durable, too. They're designed to withstand hundreds of laundry cycles and can hold over 25 pounds of produce without breaking.
Best Budget: Gogooda Reusable Produce Bags
Tare weight tags
Reusable produce bags don't have to be much of an initial investment. These Gogooda Reusable Produce Bags come in packs of 9 or 15 and include multiple sizes for added convenience and versatility.
They're made of BPA-free polyester with drawstring toggle closures and colorful tare weight tags on the sides. While the brand recommends hand-washing these bags, some users said they've tossed them in the washer without any issues. These bags aren't biodegradable so make sure you're going to use all of the bags in the set on a regular basis. If not, share them with a friend.
Best Mesh: Public Goods Reusable Mesh Produce Bag
Free of dyes
Not made in the U.S.
No tare weight tag
The Public Goods Reusable Produce Bag is made of 100 percent organic cotton and features a breathable mesh weave. You'll get a pack of two satchels, each measuring 14 x 11 inches with a drawstring closure. The tight mesh weave makes it great for carrying vegetables like broccoli or asparagus, but it's still breathable enough to pile in some fruit, as well.
These bags are crafted without the use of any dyes, bleach, or artificial substances of any kind. We also like that these produce carriers are machine-washable and dryer-safe. There's no tare weight tag, so you'll need to keep that in mind when weighing your produce.
Best With Tare Weight Tags: Five Two Organic Cotton Reusable Produce Bags (Set of 8)
Organic cotton and dye
Color conceals stains
Not made in the U.S.
Cloth bags provide less visibility
Five Two Produce Bags are loomed from 100 percent organic cotton to create two different weaves: opaque cloth and mesh. They come in sets of eight, including four cloth and three mesh of three different sizes.
The organic charcoal-colored dye is machine-washable and dryer-safe, plus it conceals inevitable stains. We also appreciate that these produce carriers have the tare weights listed right on the labels for easy-peasy checkout. Keep in mind that cloth bags provide less visibility than mesh bags, but they also offer more versatility since they can carry things like grains or nuts.
Best for Fruit: Pax Eco Market Bag
No tare weight tag
Planning to tote some fruit home from the store or farmers market? Reach for the Pax Eco Market Bag from Urban Outfitters. It's made of 100 percent cotton and features a classic netted weave with crocheted panels all the way around. Load it up with fresh apples or even large baked goods. The thoughtfully crafted straps and ultra-lightweight silhouette make it easy to toss over your shoulder or carry by hand. While this isn't the cheapest produce bag out there, you can count on the machine-washable design to last for years.
Best for Leafy Greens: Kikkerland Stay Fresh Lettuce Bag
Holds two heads of lettuce
Keeps greens fresh for two weeks
Not offered in more colors
You've got bags for your fruit and bags for your large veggies, but what about your leafy greens? Kikkerland has you covered with the Stay Fresh Lettuce Bag. Measuring 14.5 x 10.5 inches, this little satchel is big enough to hold two large heads of lettuce.
It's made of polyester, which helps keep moisture and air out to ensure your greens stay fresher longer. You can bring it along to the grocery store, then place it directly into your fridge, and your lettuce will stay crisp for up to two weeks. The bright green color is fun, but there aren't any other color options available if you prefer a more muted tone.
Best for Storage: Vejibag Fresh Vegetable Crisper Bags
Keeps veggies fresher longer
No visibility to interior contents
If you're looking for a plastic-free option to place in your refrigerator, Vejibag is your best bet. The brand's Vegetable Crisper Bags are woven from organic cotton and feature a French terry cloth weave.
To keep your veggies fresh, just dampen the fabric, fill the pouch up with produce, and stick it in the fridge. You can count on the contents to stay fresh for upwards of a week with no slime in sight. And if the bags dry out after a few days, just spritz them with a little more water. The cloth fabric limits visibility for the interior contents, so you'll need to take note of which veggies are in which bag.
For an excellent reusable produce bag, we suggest Lotus Sustainables Organic Cotton Bags, because they're breathable, come in a set of five, and can hold 25 pounds of produce. If you're on a budget, you can't go wrong with a 15-pack of Gogooda's BPA-free Reusable Produce Bags. These bags boast colorful drawstrings and come in three different sizes.
What to Look for When Buying Reusable Produce Bags
While some bags are made of biodegradable fabrics such as cotton and cornstarch, others are made of synthetic materials that won’t shrink when exposed to heat, such as nylon and polyester. Cotton may be the best choice for you if you're trying to cut plastic out entirely, but you will need to air dry the bags after washing them.
Some sets come with bags in different weaves—larger weaves allow for more airflow and smaller weaves keep tiny items (like bulk beans) in place. Consider the weave type if you plan on storing your items in the bags in your fridge or pantry until they are used. On the other hand, if your produce bags are mostly meant to serve as storage from the grocery store to your home, it's not as important to have a variety of weaves.
Produce bags can be quite a bit heavier than the single-use plastic ones from the produce aisle, which can increase your grocery bill. Most cotton bags will have the tare weight of the product clearly marked so that cashiers can take that into account when calculating price by weight. Polyester bags are generally lighter, so they may not have the tare weight printed directly on the bags.
How do you wash a reusable produce bag?
Reusable bags are made in a number of different materials, meaning that some may benefit from hand-washing while others can be thrown in the washer and the dryer without a second thought. Check out the care instructions on your specific bag before buying.
How much do reusable produce bags weigh?
The weight of your reusable produce bags will depend on the material, weave, and size of the bag. While produce bags are designed to be lightweight, they range from well under an ounce to a few ounces, which can have an effect on the overall price of your produce. Cotton bags may feature the tare weight labeled in pounds, ounces, and grams so that your cashier can deduct it from the bill.
Are reusable produce bags worth it?
Yes. Reducing single-use plastic is one of the most important things you can do on an individual level to help reduce landfill waste. Purchasing and using a durable reusable produce bag is one small gesture you can make to help the environment.
What are reusable produce bags made of?
Reusable produce bags are made from various materials such as cotton, linen, or mesh made from recycled plastic or non-compostable synthetic mesh. Reusable produce bags made of polyester are dryer safe which makes them convenient but does not erase the fact that polyester is a manmade material that will live forever. Some biodegradable bags are made from cornstarch.
Why Trust The Spruce?
Theresa Holland covers home goods, storage solutions, and lifestyle products at The Spruce. For this story, she interviewed Daniel Hartz, founder of Sustainability Champions, an expert specializing in eco-friendly innovations that can be incorporated into daily life. She compiled their product recommendations and insight into the reasoning behind single-use plastic alternatives. She then researched the various types, materials, and uses for reusable produce bags. The selected items had multiple sought-after qualities, such as tare weight tags, an organic certification, machine-washability, and a biodegradable design.