Home & Garden Home The 7 Best Eco-Friendly Reusable Produce Bags of 2021 An easy way to reduce your plastic use By Starre Vartan Writer Columbia University Syracuse University Starre Vartan has been an environmental and science journalist for 15-plus years. She founded an award-winning eco-website and wrote a book on living green. our editorial process Starre Vartan Updated September 18, 2020 Share Twitter Pinterest Email Home Green Living Pest Control Natural Cleaning DIY Family Thrift & Minimalism Sustainable Eating Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links. The Rundown Best Overall: Ecobags Cotton Produce Bag Bundle at Packagefreeshop.com "GOTS-certified organic cotton, fair-trade-made produce bags at a low price." Best Budget: Simple Ecology Muslin Reusable Produce Bags at Amazon "Low-priced and available in five sizes." Best Mesh: Earthwise Reusable Produce Bags Premium Mesh Set of 9 at Amazon "Packaged in recyclable cardboard, these mesh bags are made from RPET (AKA former plastic bottles)." Best Organic Cotton: EcoRoots Reusable Produce Bags Organic Cotton - Set of 9 at Amazon "These organic cotton bags come in packs with both mesh and non-mesh bags to keep all your produce organized." Best for Leafy Greens: ChicoBags Reusable Moisture Locking Bag Sets at Amazon "These bags will keep enough moisture in to keep greens from being waterlogged or wilted in the fridge." Best Biodegradable: Junes Carry-Alls in Bio-Knit at Junes.co "Made from a biodegradable CiCLO polyester, these reusuable bags will degrade in landfill when they are eventually thrown away." Best for Refrigerators and Freezers: Stasher Reusable Silicone Bag at Amazon "These bags can be used at the market, for storage in fridge and freezer, and even cooking." Once you start reducing the plastic in your life, you realize how much of it sneaks in without your realizing it. Produce bags are one of the insidious ways plastic can pile up. If you’re looking to avoid the significant environmental consequences of the human plastic habit, seeing three large plastic produce bags sitting next to your cloth tote once you’ve unpacked your groceries can be frustrating. You have more options than you think when it comes to zero-waste grocery shopping. Keep in mind the ever-useful mantra: “reduce, reuse, recycle,” which encourages not using something or reusing before recycling (or in this case, buying new stuff). First, you can always wash and then reuse the produce bags you already have. You can go without (more on that later), make your own, or repurpose bags you already have at home for produce. Or, you can get some reusable produce bags that meant for that purpose. Look for those that are lightweight and easily washable—earth from carrots and dust on apples will get bags grubby, and smooshed tomatoes happen to us all and should be easy to deal with, not cause more angst. Ahead, some sustainable suggestions for the best reusable produce bags. Best Overall: Ecobags Cotton Produce Bag Bundle Buy on Packagefreeshop.com Choose from two bundle options—two large cotton bags and three medium mesh bags or two large mesh bags and three medium cotton bags—to suit your shopping needs. Made of 100 percent Global Organic Standard (GOTS)-certified organic cotton, these Ecobags are low-impact and budget-friendly. They are designed to be both strong and lightweight so you won’t pay for the extra weight when you bring your reusable bags. A net bag is useful for determining what’s inside, while the solid bags are best for bulk dry ingredients. Reviewers love the quality construction but note that you might need larger totes for bigger items. They're machine-washable, but because they're made of cotton, you should expect some shrinkage. Ecobags are all made with “fair wage, fair labor, and SA 8000 standards for both environmental and social responsibility.” And at end of life, these bags are compostable. These Compost Bins Help Reduce Waste—Without Being an Eyesore Best Budget: Simple Ecology Muslin Reusable Produce Bags Buy on Amazon Buy on Walmart For when you want to keep more moisture inside the bag or use it for smaller, non-produce items, like seeds, nuts, granola, and the like, these plain organic cotton fabric ones are available at a price that’s hard to beat. Simple Ecology bags are made from GOTS-certified organic cotton and come in five sizes. They also include the weight of the bag on the tare label affixed to each one, to help you will only pay for the contents that you purchase. The 8 Best Eco-Friendly Reusable Grocery Bags of 2021 Best Mesh: Earthwise Reusable Produce Bags Premium Mesh Set of 9 Buy on Amazon These bags are made from RPET, a material generated from recycled plastic bottles, so you are both reducing and reusing plastic in the same shopping trip. The BPA-free fine mesh allows some airflow into the bags while also making the contents easily visible. They come in three sizes with different colored tags that are easily identifiable when you reach for them. The set of nine bags is a good value, and they even come in recyclable cardboard packaging. Read Next: Reusables Can Be Safe to Use During the Pandemic Best Organic Cotton: EcoRoots Reusable Produce Bags Organic Cotton - Set of 9 Buy on Amazon Made from 100 percent organic cotton, the set of nine bags comes with both mesh and non-mesh bags in various sizes, which should cover all your produce needs and give you options for both transport and storage in the fridge or drawer. Reinforced seams and quality construction have resulted in high marks from reviewers for durability, and tare tags mean the correct weight of produce only is easily determined. Best for Leafy Greens: ChicoBags Reusable Moisture Locking Bag Sets Buy on Amazon Buy on Walmart Some produce needs to hold onto moisture so it’ll keep fresh until you want to eat it. Things like lettuce and other leafy greens, broccoli, asparagus, carrots, and celery will last longer in your fridge if kept in a resealable bag that keeps them from drying out. Also available in a breathable mesh version, this set is made from polyester that’s FDA-tested to be food-safe and BPA-free. These reclosable bags are cold-water machine-washable and can go from grocery bag to fridge. Best Biodegradable: Junes Carry-Alls in Bio-Knit Buy on Junes.co Of course, all 100 percent cotton bags are biodegradable, but if you are looking for a non-cotton biodegradable bag, Junes has this mesh version, which is made in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico by a women’s sewing coop. They use made-in-USA CiCLO polyester which Junes says “biodegrades within just 60 days in a landfill, seawater, or water treatment facility. And it will completely decompose within three to five years, just like cotton.” The bags are formaldehyde- and toxic-dye free as well. Best for Refrigerators and Freezers: Stasher Reusable Silicone Bag Buy on Amazon Buy on Bed Bath & Beyond Buy on Stasherbag.com The use of plastic in food storage is questionable, and that goes for silicone, which the experts at Life Without Plastic say is "something of a hybrid between a synthetic rubber and a synthetic plastic polymer." We'd recommend beeswax wraps before reusable food storage bags, but if you must zip and lock, silicone bags are still a better choice than their disposable counterparts. These resealable, easy-to-clean silicone bags are ideal for fridge or freezer storage, as well as cooking, so they can do triple duty: Take them to the store and fill them up with your produce, then bring them home for a rinse and a chop, then use the same bag for storage. Since they are heat-proof to 400 degrees, you can cook with them either in the microwave or by putting the bag in hot water on a stovetop (don’t put them directly on the stovetop or in an oven over 400 degrees). Several reviewers have used them for cooking veggies while on camping trips, where they work as both transport and protection as well as a cooking vessel. What to Consider Before Buying Produce Bags Actual need for the item: Consider whether you need a produce bag at all. Especially if you are only buying a few items, foods like apples, oranges and other citrus, bananas, avocado, cucumbers, potatoes, and anything else with a relatively thick skin don’t really need an additional layer around them—especially if you aren’t going to eat the skin. It can be easier to pack your main grocery bag and ensure items aren’t squished if they aren’t piled on top of each other in an additional produce bag, too. Try it out during your next grocery trip, then consider what you really do need a produce bag for; you might realize you don’t need as many bags as you think. Or you might just want to keep some bags at home in the fridge (net bags for citrus, for example), but not bring them to the store. Reuse-and-reduce options: You may not need to buy a whole bunch of new stuff to cut your produce-bag habit. Look around your home—you may have cloth drawstring bags that you could easily repurpose for produce already sitting in a closet or drawer. If you buy large quantities of produce like apples or potatoes, old pillowcases are a simple, free option. If you already have reusable sandwich bags, they can be used for smaller quantities of produce. Type of bags: If you are going to transfer your produce directly from your shopping bag into your fridge, think about your produce needs in the fridge. Use net bags for lemons, limes, oranges, apples, and other fruits that don’t need protection from your fridge’s dry air—the net will allow you to easily observe how many items are left. For lettuces, carrots, and other veggies or fruit that do need protection, even within your fridges’ produce drawers, opt for bags that will hold moisture in, like the resealable ones mentioned above. Why Trust Treehugger? Starre Vartan has been covering sustainable consumer products for 15 years, 10 of those with Treehugger (under the MNN brand). She’s also a science writer who has covered biotech, astrobiology, animals, women’s health, and space for a variety of publications including Scientific American and National Geographic. She has personally tested compostable packaging in her backyard compost heap, a variety of solar chargers, hybrid cars, and other products meant to leave a lighter footprint.