From grocery tote to sandwich bag, the popularity of reusing a bag is not new. Partly in answer to the growing number of single-use plastic bag bans around the US, and partly due to our increasing awareness of the negative impact of those bags on the environment, today, there’s not a grocery store, farmers market, or retailer that doesn’t have at least a few reusable bags dotted around the aisles.
However, it’s worth remembering that not all reusable bags are made equal. It can be overwhelming choosing a bag with so many available, and there are some that are not particularly environmentally friendly.
However, it’s still possible to grab a reusable alternative that is kind to the environment while also promoting fair trade, and there are a few general points to consider when purchasing a bag that will help you ensure that you are, in fact, making the most informed decision:
Armed with this information, you can take the time to research and grab the best zero waste bag out there, ensuring you’ve got an alternative that truly cuts down plastic waste and minimizes your impact on the environment. To get you started, read our reviews of the best reusable grocery bags around and grab a bag!
At the top of our list of best zero waste bags comes the aNYbag. Made in Manhattan by New Yorkers using waste sourced directly within the Big Apple itself, it’s a true model of circularity. Each bag is created by carefully weaving 95 repurposed and upcycled plastic bags together with cotton cord to fabricate a unique textile made for durability and style. Additionally, a portion of the proceeds go to the City Parks Foundation, helping to transform and invigorate parks across the US.
The idea behind aNYbag came from Brooklyn-based Alex Dabagh. As an artisanal leather goods manufacturer by trade, he had little intention to move into “sustainable” fashion, however, as he witnessed the rise of gentrification and the subsequent flood of waste that followed it, he began to consider how his existing skills might help minimize the city’s waste problem—giving birth to aNYbag at the same time.
Bagpodz are among the best reusable shopping bags for convenience, with up to ten shopping bags being squeezed into a handy little drawstring “pod” that can be easily carried around. All of the materials used within the manufacture of these bulk bags are BLUESIGN certified, ensuring that processes and control standards are safe and environmentally friendly. If you’ve got a big family to shop for, you’ll be glad of the extra carrying capacity that can be stuffed inside these compact pods.
The entire Bagpodz range is fully water repellent and easily machine washable—meaning they can be used for a broad range of products even in the rainiest cities. Additionally, replacement bags are easily available when your originals are worn out, meaning you can keep the handy pod out of landfill.
If you’re looking for style through variety, then BAGGU has got you covered—with hundreds of different sizes, shapes, and designs. Manufactured from lightweight, 40% recycled ripstop nylon and built to carry up to three times the weight of a standard plastic bag, the BAGGU is among the best reusable grocery shopping bags for all kinds of applications—you’ll even find wallets and purses in the range to round out your reusable collection.
In fact, with such a range of sizes, they can be used as reusable produce bags for bulk food purchases or food storage, as well as a standard shopping bag and everything in between.
Parley for the Oceans has already been busy teaming up with brands such as Adidas and artists like Doug Aitken to spread the message that we must take action to save our oceans sooner rather than later. Now, they have also introduced a range of shopping bags made from Ocean Plastic® that are both strong and stylish in equal measure.
Available in some multiple designs from Parley’s artistic collaborators, they’re made for the city, and with bag dimensions of 43cm x 39cm, they’re big enough for plenty of veggies, dry goods, or any other kinds of food.
As an added bonus, profits from these bags go towards the Parley cleanup network that is already operational in 28 countries—making them one of the best zero-waste shopping bags for anyone concerned about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
Make your own
Of course, why buy when you can build? Making your own cotton bags or plastic container bags from spare materials or recycled products is a surefire way to ensure circularity and boost your zero waste lifestyle. What’s more, if you have your own inspirational bag designs, you can share them and help push the zero waste movement forward.
Whether you have an old t-shirt or bedsheet, you have a bunch of spare fabric lying around, or you want to try your hand at something a little more unique, there’s a wealth of resources online to help you craft the ideal reusable shopping bag from things you already have at home.
The explosion in popularity of reusable and zero-waste bags means there are now thousands of options on the market.
To help you meet your Zero Waste goals, choose carefully to ensure that your bag doesn’t use harmful chemicals such as BPAs and that it can be recycled at the end of its lifecycle. Additionally, buying from a brand that supports other good causes with its profits is also a good idea.
For more information on the Zero Waste movement and how to go Zero Waste, check out our blog here or contact one of our TRUE Advisors for more information.
*We only feature products that we recommend and believe help you on the path towards a zero waste lifestyle. This post contains affiliate links – If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. See our full policy here.*