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Published Apr. 5, 2022

Whether you’re headed to your local farmers market to pick up produce or running to the drugstore for a few household necessities, plastic bags still pop up regularly during everyday life. An overwhelming number of those bags end up in the trash can—a minuscule one percent of all plastic bags recycled. And with a life span of approximately 1,000 years, the effects of an instantaneous decision to choose plastic will long outlast our daily errands. 

Luckily, making a sustainable swap for a reusable grocery bag can altogether eliminate the need for plastic bags. Keep one in your bag, car, and home to always have them on hand. In addition to reducing plastic waste (a cause you can also support with reusable straws), reusable grocery bags are far more durable than plastic bags and can carry more goods—so you can avoid several trips to the car lugging your groceries.

And while we like all of these options, we recommend you consider your purchase carefully and decide on a bag that will last a long time. Having the best reusable grocery bag only helps the environment if you use it enough times to offset its ecological costs.

How we chose the best reusable grocery bags

I’m a big proponent of canvas bags and reusable bags for just about anything and everything—so when it came time to make selections I used my prior experience to narrow down this list from over 50 products. I considered material, design, cost, amount of bags, added features like foldability, and insulation to make these final picks. Whether you need heavy-duty bags to accommodate hefty grocery hauls or lightweight picks that can be stored in small spaces, there’s a reusable bag that fits your life. 

Things to consider before buying a reusable grocery bag

Material

The most common materials are cotton varieties and non-woven polypropylene. A study from the United Kingdom found that cotton bags have to be used over 131 times before they are considered to have produced a positive effect on the environment, while polypropylene only needs roughly 11 uses. 

That said, if you’re investing in quality cotton bags that can be used for any kind of errand, they can still be a long-term investment in sustainability. If you’re prone to misplacing things, or need to stock up on a wide collection of bags for your family, we recommend a polypropylene option.

Capacity

For those hauling home a week’s worth of groceries for the family, a large capacity bag will be an absolute necessity. We recommend checking the product description to see how much your pick can hold. Foldable bags can also improve capacity and stay upright in the backseat while driving. 

That said, if you’ll be using your reusable bags for more than just groceries, opt for a more compact pick that can suit snacks for a picnic, a few books from the library, or your workout clothes. While reusable bags are typically touted as replacements for plastic varieties from your grocery store, they can be used daily on just about any occasion.

Insulation

If you want to keep your groceries fresh on the commute home, an insulated bag is the way to go. Consider the features included with insulation, like a foldable design, zippers, or outer pockets. Zippers will come in handy to keep your goods in place and at a stable temperature and are especially ideal for frozen products.

Best reusable grocery bags: Reviews & Recommendations

Best reusable grocery bag overall: BeeGreen Reusable Grocery Bags

BeeGreen

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Why it made the cut: These colorful bulk bags are a durable and lightweight option that can handle almost any errand. 

Specs

  • Capacity: 50 lbs
  • Count: 10
  • Materials: Polyester

Pros

  • Foldable for easy storage
  • Machine washable
  • Large capacity

Cons 

  • Not made from recycled materials

With long straps, reinforced seams, durable materials, and a variety of colorways, these reusable bags are a versatile pick that can suit just about anyone. While this pick from BeeGreen can hold an impressive 50 pounds of groceries or goods, they can also be easily folded and rolled to fit into a small space—perfect for storing a few on hand so you never have to reach for plastic. The material is also machine washable, so you can easily clean and reuse time and time again. Pack a few from this colorful bundle in your car, home, and go-bag for a reliable and durable reusable bag wherever you go. 

Best reusable insulated grocery bag: Veno Insulated Reusable Grocery Bags

VENO BAG

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Why it made the cut: Keep your food and groceries at a stable temperature with these heavy-duty insulated bags. 

Specs

  • Capacity: 45 lbs
  • Count: 3
  • Materials: Non-woven recycled materials

Pros

  • Zippered lid 
  • Reinforced durable straps 
  • Triple-layer thermal insulation

Cons 

  • Not as compact if folded

Whether you’re picking up piping hot to-go meals from your favorite local restaurant or lugging home frozen goods from the grocery store, an insulated grocery bag can keep your food at a consistent temperature in transit. The triple layer insulation fabric is durable enough to carry 45 pounds, with a zippered top to keep things from spilling or tumbling out while you’re on the move. Rather than dealing with a hefty cooler, you can opt for this high-capacity reusable bag. And with reinforced carrying straps and nonwoven material comprised of mostly recycled materials, you can be sure these bags will last for a long time to come. 

Best canvas: Organic Cotton Mart Store Grocery Bags

Organic Cotton Mart

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Why it made the cut: These stylish and versatile bags can be used day-in and day-out with no worry about wear or tear. 

Specs

  • Size: 13.5 x 8 x 14 inches
  • Count: 3
  • Materials: Canvas 

Pros

  • Stylish, simple design
  • Organic cotton canvas meets Global Organic Textile Standards
  • Washable 

Cons 

  • Less affordable than some other options

While you may need to get more use of a cotton bag to offset its production, these organic canvas bags from Organic Cotton Mart are biodegradable—so after years of use and plenty of groceries hauls you can be sure they won’t further contribute to plastic waste in landfills. Its heavy-duty material meets the Global Organic Textile Standards, as it does not require any processing chemicals, fertilizers, or pesticides. The simple and reliable design makes them perfectly suited for daily errands, as they more closely resemble a tote bag or purse than a grocery sack. These bags are also designed with a double stitched top hem, piping stitches on exterior edges, and x-stitched handles for added support and durability. 

Best foldable: WISELIFE Reusable Grocery Bags

WISELIFE

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Why it made the cut: These foldable flat-bottom reusable bags won’t tip over while holding your groceries.

Specs

  • Capacity: 30 lbs
  • Count: 3
  • Materials: Nonwoven fabric with water-resistant coating

Pros 

  • Collapsible design
  • Stands up on its own
  • Water-resistant coating

Cons 

  • Cannot be folded into a very small space

Load your groceries with ease into these foldable and collapsible reusable bags, which have a stiff nonwoven fabric material for added rigidity. If you’ve ever dealt with cracked eggs or spilled produce in the back of your car, opt for a foldable option with a cardboard bottom like this pick from WISELIFE. With both short side handles and long straps for carrying, you can maneuver even large loads of goods or groceries without any items falling astray. The bag is also coated in a water-resistant finish, so it is gnarly immune to stains and can be cleaned with a quick wipe-down.

Best budget: TOPDesign 2 | 6 | 12 Pack Reusable Grocery Shopping totes

TOPDesign

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Why it made the cut: This affordable option allows you to make a sustainable swap on a very low budget. 

Specs

  • Capacity: 40 lbs 
  • Count: 2
  • Materials: Cotton

Pros

  • Foldable design
  • Washable
  • Reinforced durable stitches

Cons 

  • Shrink slightly after washing

These large capacity, durable, cotton totes are the most budget-friendly reusable bag to add to your arsenal. Their material makes them foldable and washable, so you can store them easily in your home, car, or purse and wash as needed. The heavy-duty stitching and cross-stitching at the handles ensure they’ll hold up to daily use without breakage or ripping. With a simple design, this bag can seamlessly transition from a daytime coffee run to evening grocery shopping.

FAQs

Q: How long do reusable grocery bags last?

A reusable bag’s longevity depends, in part, on its design and your level of use—if you’re consistently loading it up with heavyweight items it may endure more wear in less time. At a minimum, your reusable grocery bag should last a year, though many can last for up to four years.

Q: Why is it better to use reusable grocery bags?

It’s better to use a reusable grocery bag because it limits the amount of single-use plastic bags you contribute to our environment. It takes at least 1,000 years for a plastic bag to degrade in a landfill—but even then they continue to create microplastics that absorb toxins and pollute our environment. A reusable bag is a simple step you can take to reduce your impact on our planet.

Q: How do you clean reusable grocery bags?

The method in which you clean your reusable bag largely depends on what material it is made of. Cotton or canvas bags can often be hand-washed or even thrown in the washing machine when they get dingy, while water-resistant, recycled, or laminated bags can simply be wiped down with a disinfectant.

Final thoughts on the best reusable grocery bags

While the amount of plastic bags used daily is still daunting, buying and routinely using the best reusable grocery bags is one way you can cut down on your personal contribution to plastic pollution. Aside from sustainability, reusable grocery bags also offer improved durability, so you never need to worry about shredded plastic bags and spilled goods or a rainstorm soaking a paper alternative. Reusable bags can also be used as a catch-all bag for daily errands, so you can go from a quick coffee run with friends to grocery shopping in no time.

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