You’ve probably heard of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, and due to plastics made from polyethylene and polypropylene many of Earth’s other oceans and waterways are filled with single-use plastics, especially take-out food containers, water bottles, straws, fishing nets, rings, and plastic bags.
All of these items harm ocean ecosystems and break down into microplastics that ultimately travel back into our ecosystems and our own bodies.
Reducing single-use plastic is important, which is why there are pushes to refuse straws and to use a reusable water bottle. To date, eight U.S. states have banned single-use plastic bags, and many major cities, including Boston, Seattle, and Washington, D.C., have likewise banned them or charge a fee for use. So, whether you’re out to save the environment and/or a buck, it is best to have your own reusable shopping bags.
If you stock up on reusable options, you’ll no longer have a need for single-use plastic bags. I recommend carrying a reusable shopping bag or two when you are shopping or getting groceries. They can also be useful for carrying items from one place to another. Reusables tend to be more durable than the easily torn single-use plastic, so you can carry more in one go. And, many are washable and lightweight, making them practical—just remember to clean them.
We’ve rounded up our favorite, highly recommended bags to help you replace your dependence on plastic bags.
1. Mesh Market Bag
A mesh market bag is trendy and functional. It works well for holding produce while grocery shopping or strolling around a farmer’s market. The mesh market bag can also be used for a pool day, festival bag, or purse—as long as everything inside is larger than the mesh gaps.
An added bonus is that the bag is backyard compostable when you’re done using it—yeah, you can pop it in your compost bin.
2. Standard Baggu
Baggu bags have a cult following, and as an owner of a few I can attest to their versatility. A single bag can carry two to three times what a plastic grocery bag can, maxing out around 50 pounds.
The Standard Baggu folds down to a 5-inch square so you can tuck one in your purse or backpack to always be prepared. Its recycled nylon fabric is easy to clean and is machine washable, so you don’t have to add another step to your cleaning routine. Plus, there are dozens of patterns and colors to choose from.
3. I'm Not Trash Tote
I like the organic cotton material because it holds heavier items like a full water bottle and glass jars. And the bag’s fun text shows your support for the cause.
4. Frakta Tote
If you live anywhere near an Ikea, you’ve definitely seen these massive blue bags. People often buy them leaving the store since the store doesn’t offer disposable bags.
I’ve seen the Frakta totes in thrift stores, at volleyball games, by the pool, and in many moving trucks. The bags are durable and waterproof, so they’re awesome for pool or beach trips and they hold a good portion of your weekly grocery shop. I wish the handles were longer, but otherwise have no complaints.
5. Insulated Reusable Grocery Bag
If you live in a warmer climate or have a longer commute to a grocery store, you may want to invest in insulated grocery bags. They’re made to keep your cold things cold, which can be a lifesaver when you’re buying ice cream or using public transportation to get home.
The rectangular shape also makes the bags feel a bit roomier and is easier to pack while checking out. Reviewers also say these bags are durable and keep smells in, so they’re a good option for delivery drivers and anyone going on a road trip.
6. Public Goods Cotton Tote Bag
This 100% organic cotton tote bag has several pockets inside for your water bottle, wallet, and on-the-go items like lip balm, Airpods, and reusable silverware. The bag can fit a laptop for working away from home, but it can also be used for strolling a market or grocery store aisles.
7. Twist & Shouts Bag
Similar to a Baggu bag, Twist & Shouts bags are convenient and colorful. You can use them for bringing home groceries, taking your lunch to the office, or even packing your child’s things for a sleepover.
They can also fold into an internal pocket to make them tiny and portable.
8. Mesh Produce Bags
Single-use bags aren’t the only wasteful bags you bring home from the store; many people still use plastic produce bags. Instead, opt for reusable mesh produce bags, which are better than plastic for many reasons: They are reusable, they let your produce breathe, you can wash them easily, you can see through them to identify and scan your produce, and they come in various sizes to fit different shapes and amounts of food.
This set of 15 bags has over 24,000 5-star reviews on Amazon and reviewers like sturdy fabric and locking drawstring closures.
9. Stasher Bags
I’m a total fangirl for Stasher bags. They’re a great swap for single-use plastic sandwich or storage bags. I use these for most of my produce once I get them home and soaked and washed in water. I like the seal on the bags, because it’s easy to open and close, and it holds well, even after shuffling around in a fridge drawer or tote bag throughout the day.
Stashers work well for all types of foods. I use mine to freeze fruit, store produce like mushrooms and carrots, and pack trail mix for road trips. The silicone bags are microwave, oven, and dishwasher safe—a true trifecta!
Stasher bags aren’t just for the kitchen; you can use them to store craft supplies, skin care products, pacifiers, picnic supplies, medicine, and more.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.