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For once, a reusable product is actually more convenient than its disposable counterpart: the absurdly thin plastic produce bags you find in grocery stores are not only a nuisance in recycling plants where they get caught in the machines, they’re also maddening to open. The bags can even trap moisture, which can cut the shelf life of leafy greens short. Reusable produce bags, on the other hand, are quiet, sturdy, and are equipped with drawstrings to keep your food where it belongs.
Here, the best reusable produce bags to use on your next grocery trip.
Best Overall : EcoRoots Reusable Produce Bags Organic Cotton
The best thing about this set of nine EcoRoots Reusable Produce Bags is that they have cord locks that make closing and opening them extremely easy. The cord locks are made of stainless steel, which might get a little annoying banging about in the washing machine (we recommend washing them in a laundry bag to keep them in top shape), but they’re a lot less likely to break than those made of plastic.
The variety of sizes and weaves make these bags a good choice no matter what your needs are: while the mesh bags have large enough holes to allow for plenty of airflow and to see what is inside, the bulk bags are a thick, opaque fabric that can support quite a bit of weight. For that reason, they’re great for stocking up on beans or rice in the bulk aisles. Oh, and don’t worry: the tare weight of each is indicated in pounds, grams, and ounces on the tag, so your cashier will be able to deduct the weight from the cost of the produce. The bags can be washed in cold water between grocery trips to keep them in top shape.
The fabric is made out of 100 percent organic cotton, so it will break down in a compost pile if you ever decide to part with the bags—just remember to remove the cord locks first.
Best Washable : Earthwise Reusable Mesh Produce Bags
Each of these nine produce bags is larger than a piece of paper and weighs about a third of an ounce. The ultra-fine mesh will keep a barrier between your produce and the grocery cart, but the fabric is thin enough that the cashier can’t scan the barcode through the fabric.
The recycled, BPA-free plastic fabric is extremely lightweight, but still durable enough to hold up to 10 oranges, and it can go in the dryer without any concerns of shrinkage. You can also wash the produce right in the bags as they will air-dry very quickly. The one-sided drawstring does make it slightly more complicated to use them—you'll have to tie the string to keep things contained, rather than secure it with a cordlock.
Best for Leafy Greens: Five Two Organic Cotton Reusable Produce Bags
This set of eight produce bags from Food52 is high-quality and designed to handle a wide range of uses. The bags come in three sizes and two weaves so that you have a bag for everything from apples and ginger to bread and beans. The largest size is wide enough to fit bushy veggies like a big bunch of kale or a head of butter lettuce; when you get home, you can rinse the greens and leave them to air-dry right in the bag.
The 100 percent organic cotton is a bit heavy (the largest bag is almost two ounces), but all of the bags come with tare weight tags so that the cashier won’t include their weight in the price of your produce. With drawstrings on both sides, it’s easy to cinch the bags closed without worrying that they’ll fall open, but you can easily tie them if you want some extra security. The gray color is almost too dark to see what’s inside, but it looks great and hides stains well over time.
Best Budget: Lucky Treyvon Reusable Mesh Produce Bags
This 12-pack of Reusable Mesh Produce Bags is, by far, the cheapest on the list. The sizes—which are all 12 inches wide and range from 8 to 17 inches in length—are color-coded, so you can easily grab the appropriate size for the task at hand.
The double-stitched, polyester mesh is sturdy enough to support up to 11 pounds without ripping, and it won’t shrink in the dryer. The bags don’t have tare weight tags, but they all weigh less than an ounce and won’t do much to increase the cost of your groceries. The bags have cordlocks to make securing your groceries a bit easier.
The one real drawback of them (besides the fact that they are synthetic and are, therefore, not compostable) is that the fabric isn’t quite transparent enough for the cashier to scan barcodes through it.
Best Storage Case: Simply Eco Reusable Produce Bag
It can be so easy to forget your grocery bags, so having to remember to bring your produce bags as well may be a challenging habit to form. Luckily, these nine Simply Eco Reusable Produce Bags come with a small, blue storage case so that you can keep them in your purse and have them on hand whenever you pop into the store to pick up a few things. The drawstring of the case is attached to a small carabiner that you can hang it from an inner zipper or from the handle of your cart while you shop.
The color of the drawstrings and tags indicates the size of the bag, and the tare weight is stitched into the tag for quick reference. The soft, close-weave mesh is very thin and transparent enough to scan any barcodes through the fabric, but the seams are double-stitched, so they won’t fall apart when you pack them full of produce.
Best Color Coded : flip & tumble Reusable Produce Bags
Each of the five bags in this set of polyester produce bags are tagged with a different color—red, orange, green, blue, or purple—so you can match the color of the produce with that of the tag. With their large size and double-stitched lining, these bags are sturdy enough to support about 10 pounds of produce each. The tags don’t indicate tare weight, but the bags are less than half an ounce each, so any added weight shouldn't run up the bill. They’re transparent enough to see what they contain, but unfortunately, not enough so that it’s easy for the cashier to scan through the material.
The fact that these bags made out of polyester instead of a more sustainable material may not be ideal if you are trying to be strict about your plastic use. However, the polyester may actually be a selling point if you’re also looking for bags that can be tossed in the dryer without concern that they’ll shrink.
Best Organic: All Cotton and Linen Reusable Bulk Bags Muslin
If you shop for a big family, these eight bulk bags from All Cotton and Linen are the best option for you. They come in four sizes, the smallest of which is 8 x 10 inches. The largest is 14 x 18 inches, weighs about 3 ounces (which is indicated on its tare weight tag), and can easily support 15 pounds of produce.
The organic cotton muslin is tightly woven with double-stitched seams, so you can fill them with potatoes without worrying that they will tear. Like the Simply Eco bags, these come with a muslin storage bag so that they aren’t free-floating around your car when you’re not using them.
Best Biodegradable: Frusack Knit Trio
These produce bags are the most unique pick on the list—they're made of cornstarch and are therefore easily composted. Don’t worry, though—they won’t fall apart in the wash! As long as you don’t expose them to temperatures higher than 95 degrees Fahrenheit, they should be able to last for at least two years.
The cornstarch fabric is lightweight and transparent, but the bags are also quite strong—they have a load capacity of almost 8 pounds. Each of the three bags in this set come with different color drawstrings that are made of a ribbon-like material that is just as compostable as the bag itself.
Made of cotton in an assortment of sizes and weaves, the EcoRoots Reusable Produce Bags (available at Amazon) are easily our top choice. However, our budget selection (available at Amazon) is also a surprisingly impressive option, as the bags have both cord locks and color-coded sizes; the only drawback is that they are made of polyester and are therefore not biodegradable.
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. If you're trying to cut plastic out entirely, cotton may be the best choice for you, but you will need to air dry the bags after washing them.
Some sets come with bags in different weaves—bigger ones that allow for more airflow and smaller weaves to keep smaller items (like bulk beans) in place. It's a great feature to consider 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 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 wash and the dryer without a second thought. Check out care instructions before buying. When in doubt, most reusable bags can be wash
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 for larger formats, which can have an effect on the price of what you are buying. Cotton bags may feature the tare weight labeled in pounds, ounces and grams so that your check-out person 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. If you care about the future of the planet, purchasing and using a durable reusable produce bag is one small gesture you can make to prove it.
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?
This article was written by Emily Shwake, a freelance writer who has worked on dozens of stories about food and almost as many on sustainable living. She has written for The Spruce since 2020 and writes about home, cooking, and shopping for sites such as Martha Stewart and Apartment Therapy.