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Just reuse what you already have, dingus ChicoBag Sling Repete Apolis Market Bag

The Best Reusable Grocery Bags

We hope you love the products we recommend! We do a lot of research and testing before making our picks for the best thing to buy in each price-point. Just so you know, BuzzFeed may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. Prices and availability subject to change. For more info on how we choose products and make money, go here.

Just reuse what you already have, dingus

  • Reduce, reuse, recycle
  • No cost, no consumption
  • Easy sustainability
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ChicoBag Sling Repete

  • Packs to palm-sized
  • Superior eco cred
  • Comfortable cross-body strap
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Apolis Market Bag

  • Classic, timeless style
  • Fair-trade manufactured
  • Incredibly durable
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Here’s the bad news: Americans reportedly use over 100 billion(!) plastic shopping bags every year, and those bags (like all single-use plastic) are terrible for the environment. They take up to 1,000 years to decompose, they wreak devastation on the oceans, and very few of them are recycled. And unless you’ve been living under a rock, you already know that cities and countries across the globe are taxing or outright banning the use of plastic bags. 

 

Given all that, reusable grocery bags sound like a no-brainer. But as we quickly learned, it’s not as simple as buying any old tote bag and giving yourself a hearty pat on the back.

 

The environmental impact of manufacturing cotton tote bags — including water use and air pollution — is major. A recent study performed by the Danish government found that you’d have to use an organic cotton tote 20,000 more times than a plastic grocery bag to make using it better for the environment. Sounds daunting, right? Well, don’t worry: We’ve got you. To find the best reusable grocery bags, we took into account the environmental friendliness of materials as well as their capacity, durability, comfort, and, of course, style — because we firmly believe that you can ditch single-use plastic bags and look damn good doing it.

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Just reuse what you already have, dingus

Starting from $0

What / Who It's Best For

  • People whose favorite price is “free”
  • People trying to reduce their consumption
  • Tote hoarders

Why We Love It

Let’s be real: You probably have at least one reusable bag in your home already. Whether that’s a tote, a backpack, or even a used plastic bag (tell us you don’t have a plastic bag full of other plastic bags lurking under your sink, and we’ll call BS), the cheapest way to avoid using new plastic grocery bags is to use one you already have to schlep your eggs and veggies and everything else. That’s why our $ pick for the best reusable bag is to use whatever bag you already have instead of buying a new one. 

best reusable grocery bags pile of totes

The truth is, we weren’t super impressed by most of the low-priced totes we tested. For starters, many of them were only available in bulk, and a good rule of thumb when you’re trying to do right by the environment is to buy less. Also, we found that lower price translated to lower durability. In 2015, US landfills received 10.5 million tons of textile waste, so we weren’t wild about the idea of recommending a bag that was liable to split at the seams at the first sign of a heavy load. 

Textile waste wasn’t the only reason we opted not to recommend any cotton totes. In the course of our research we read some pretty interesting (and, yeah, worrying) things about the effects of cotton totes on the environment. A 2018 report published by Denmark’s environmental protection agency, which — caveat — didn’t take into account the impact of single-use plastic bags on oceans, found that you’d have to use an organic cotton tote 20,000 times for it to be a better environmental choice than a plastic one

RelatedIn Defense of Actually Going to the Grocery Store

So in general, we should all be thinking about reusing as much as we can, whether we’re talking about plastic food containers, clothing, or tote bags. Human to human: We have a tendency to create a ton of waste, which is why we recommend trying to get as much use as you can from whatever totes you already have.

We know it’s a little weird for a website whose purpose is to advise you on which things to buy to advise you not to buy something (trust us, it’s weird for us too!). But the truth is that we’re all about buying mindfully — because it means you buy less and create less waste — as well as saving that hard-earned bread.

Any Tote You Got!

Buy-nothing bargain

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ChicoBag Sling Repete

Starting from $13

The Details

13" x 15" x 3.5"

Made from 100% post-consumer recycled plastic bottles

40-pound capacity

One-year warranty

What / Who It's Best For

  • City dwellers
  • Frequent travelers
  • Anyone concerned with environmental impact

Why We Love It

The trickiest thing about successfully cutting plastic bags out of your life is probably actually remembering to bring your reusable tote to the store with you. This might not be as much of an issue for people who do most of their shopping with a car — hot tip: keep a bag in your car if you’ve got one! — but if you’re someone who shops on foot more often than not, it’s especially important to have a bag you can easily stow away in your, um, other bag for impromptu grocery runs. 

Enter: the ChicoBag Sling Repete, which folds up so small you could keep it on your key ring (it’s got tiny stuff sack and a handy little karabiner built in).

Best reusable grocery bags ChicoBag held by carabiner

First things first: ChicoBags deserve a cookie and a star for environmental friendliness. In the course of our research, we spoke to Dune Ives, the executive director of Lonely Whale, a foundation dedicated to addressing ocean health, and she name-checked ChicoBags as a company that addresses both environmental and social sustainability. “The two go hand in hand,” she said. “ChicoBags is very committed to NGOs and also communities.” Not only is ChicoBags a certified B Corporation, the Sling Repete is made of 100% post-consumer recycled plastic. And through its Pay it Forward Program, the company accepts donations of all kinds of reusable bags, which are repurposed or redistributed to low-income families. In short, this is a bag you can feel good about buying.  

In addition to being an eco all-star, this bag is super easy to pack and incredibly comfortable to carry, features that only add to its appeal for anyone who hoofs it to the grocery store. Most of the bags we tested (including another one from ChicoBag, the Vita Repete Tote) had shorter shoulder straps. But once we got a taste of carrying groceries in this cross-body bag, we were hooked. It was easy on the shoulder, even for the heaviest loads. The bag has a weight capacity of 40 pounds, and the ChicoBag website helpfully points out that a gallon of milk weighs 7, so it should be able to handle any groceries you throw its way. We put it to the test with a 35-pound medicine ball, and proceeded to walk around feeling like Hercules.

Best reusable grocery bag ChicoBag front

Compared to other nylon bags we tested, the Sling Repete was more durable — good-quality nylon, no loose seams — and it comes with a one-year warranty. We should note that there’s only one review of this bag on the ChicoBags website, in which the reviewer noted that their bag developed a hole after 16 months of use. But a few BuzzFeeders who dutifully use this bag reported they’ve never had any issues. Plus, no reviewers on Amazon noted any issues with longevity, so we still feel confident in our recommendation.

Washability is a key component of any bag you’re using to carry food. As the old saying goes, hope for the best, prepare for the leaky container of chicken. Luckily, nylon is really easy to clean — just wash this bag with cold water and line dry it. No fuss, even if there’s some muss. 

Best reusable grocery bag ChicgoBag strap

The only real drawback we found to these bags was that style-wise, they’re not exactly showstoppers. The Sling Repete comes in three colors, and while it’s certainly not unattractive, it doesn’t have a ton of pizzazz. If you’re looking for a plethora of patterns, we recommend checking out Baggu Reusable Bags, our $$ runner-up, available in a ton of adorable patterns (cantaloupe slices! constellations!). Baggu bags are made of 40% recycled material, and the company uses “environmentally responsible dyes,” which minimize runoff. We’d say you can’t go wrong with either a ChicoBag or a Baggu, so you can always mix and match if you’re in the market for multiple totes. 

Truth be told, this category was the most competitive, and there were a number of bags that almost made the cut — from the cute and 100% recycled but ultimately just a touch too small Tern Reclaimed Tote to the fashion-forward and durable but not terribly comfortable to carry Junes Hombre bag. In the end, it was the practicality, comfort, and superior eco score that clinched the win for ChicoBags (but hey, if you crave a tote adorned with lox, we totally support you).

User Reviews

“I've been using this bag every day for a solid year and it's been so great I'm buying a second one now as backup. The Chico Sling bag is lightweight and even more spacious than I thought it would be when I ordered it online. It's the perfect size as an airplane carry-on, easily holding several books, a camera, and an entire day’s worth of snacks, plus a water bottle, and packs down to a very compact size when not in use. This bag is also big enough to take on all of my grocery shopping trips and holds a surprisingly large amount of stuff. Although the recycled plastic material on this bag is a little noisier than cloth bags I've used in the past, and makes a slight noise when it rubs against my leg while wearing it as a sling, that is just a small observation that might not even be noticeable to others. Overall it's durable, well made, lasts a LONG time, and even the minuscule scuff holes on the bottom from the sharp tips of random pens thrown in the bag haven't ripped or opened up in all these months. I'm impressed and highly recommend!”
— Sojourner From Amazon
“Absolutely great bag. It easily folds up into the integrated little pocket, and can be worn cross-body, which I love. I have round shoulders, so regular bags keep slipping off, and I’m not so tall, so most nearly drag on the ground if I hold the straps in my hand. Being cross-body, I can carry a full load well-balanced on my back, even on my bike. This bag also holds an amazing amount, and is very durable. I think my oldest one is about 8 to 10 years old and still going strong.”
— triquestral From Amazon
“This is the second Chico Sling bag I’ve owned and I absolutely love it. It is one of the most useful things I’ve ever owned. I consider it a travel necessity. It packs into its own little pouch just like other lightweight reusable shopping bags, but the cross-body strap makes it perfect for taking essentials to the showers or stream while camping, toting pool gear, toys for the park, or blankets, or even as a purse when needed. I use it all the time, at home and on the road, or on the trail backpacking. It’s also super handy for military deployments, dorm or barracks life as a shower bag since it’s the perfect size for a towel, change of clothes, and toiletries. It’s really well constructed. I used my last one extensively for eight years maybe, before I lost it someplace. I’m sure it could have gone longer. The drawstring pouch it packs into functions as a pocket for keys or wallet, and it comes with a small carabiner that is also well made and very handy.”
— Jessica From Amazon

ChicoBag

Eco-friendly all-star

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Apolis Market Bag

Starting from $58+

The Details

13" x 18" x 8"

6" x 7" interior pocket

Natural jute fiber

Leather straps

Holds up to 100 pounds

Option to customize

What / Who It's Best For

  • The fashion-conscious
  • Heavy-load haulers
  • Anyone who gets a kick out of personalized products

Why We Love It

In the course of our research and testing, we came across a lot of bags that claimed to be durable. “Durable” is kind of a buzzword when it comes to eco-friendly products because, as we noted in the explanation of our $ pick, one of the best ways to do right by the environment is to buy less. And when it came to durability and versatility, the Apolis Market Bag had it (forgive us) in the bag. 

Best reusable grocery bag Apolis

This bag had the highest stated weight capacity of any of the bags we tested — 100 pounds — and some reviewers noted that it can actually withstand much heavier loads. One of the small details we loved about it was that its leather handles are attached to the bag with nickel rivets, so you know they’re staying put. Its interior is 100% polyurethane, so it’s water-resistant and also easy to wipe clean. One BuzzFeed staffer who owns an Apolis bag gave a strong endorsement of their longevity and general awesomeness: “I’ve had an Apolis bag since 2013 and have taken it camping over 10 times,” he told us. “It’s amazing.”

Best reusable grocery bag Apolis interior pocket

The Market Bag is made of 100% jute (a strong, coarse vegetable fiber) and along with the interior layer of polyurethane, the bag felt very thick and tear-proof. According to the Food and Agriculture Associate of the United Nations (FOA), jute is “bio-degradable and recyclable and thus environmentally friendly.” The FOA also notes that jute is rain-fed and requires little in the way of fertilizer or pesticides. Like ChicoBags, which makes our $$ pick, Apolis is a B Corporation, and the Market Bag is manufactured in Bangladesh (the same place the jute is harvested) by workers who make “fair trade–certified wages, annual profit dividends, and a retirement fund.” The company’s business model is one of “advocacy through industry,” which Apolis describes as “the simple idea that people can live better lives when they are given equal access to the global marketplace.” 

Call us superficial, but we are mildly obsessed with the way the Market Bag looks. It’s not flashy, but it’s got a classic style and a cool, gender-neutral look that we fell in love with. Maybe we’ve been watching too much Barefoot Contessa, but it filled our heads with images of baguettes, summertime picnics, and French farmers markets. (And if you want a little personalization, you can even customize yours with three lines of text for an extra $10.) 

Best reusable grocery bag Apolis carried

We try not to play favorites while we’re in the middle of rigorous testing, but we found ourselves wanting to carry this one all the time. To the supermarket, to the beach, to the office…you name it. That said, if you prefer a hands-free, shoulder-strap tote, this one isn’t your bag — it has top handles only. But we found these leather handles so comfortable we didn’t mind carrying the Market Bag for blocks (and blocks). 

This bag is definitely a splurge, but the first thing that came to mind as we were testing it was “the last bag you’ll ever buy.” If you’re looking for a go-everywhere, hold-everything bag with a lot of style and a social conscience, the Market Bag gets our (tote) vote. 

User Reviews

“With most of my bags meant for carrying my gear, I find them to be too heavy and too bulky when I just want to run out of my house with one camera, journal, water bottle, and other items I need day-to-day. The Apolis Market Bag is the perfect everyday carry bag. It blends in and goes with most of my outfits. It doesn't scream that I'm carrying an expensive camera, and I don't have to worry about bringing attention to it, especially when I'm traveling. It really is the perfect everyday and travel bag that keeps my belongings safe and dry. I really love the minimalist style too.”
— Grace From Apolis
“I was always worried about stuff falling out while I was in a hurry to get somewhere, and it looked bad when my totes were ripped or broken down — it just looked like I didn’t care… The Market Bag is so sturdy! I can’t believe how much weight it holds, and it doesn’t come at the cost of its overall aesthetic either. No more broken totes — and less stress!”
— Kim From Apolis
“The uses for this incredible bag are seriously endless. I love bringing mine to the farmers market, [using it] as a carry-on when I travel, and the bag is great to throw my baby's toys in and still look chic! I've had mine for three years, and it's still in perfect shape. Best purchase ever.”
— Mary From Apolis
“This bag purchased at the Cambria Beach Lodge (actually got two) has changed my ability to indulge in huge book-buying splurges. This bag can carry more than 100 pounds I am sure. The only thing I am not sure of is why I only bought two! I have stumbled upon this site looking for more. If you need or don't need a practical and strong bag that isn't going to rip as you climb three flights of stairs with precious bottles of alcohol, bread, or even milk, this bag is for you. It's amazing. I guard them with my life. Everyone who has helped me shuffle books around in them is open in their desire for such an awesome bag. I'm scared it's gonna walk away one day, lol.”
— Summer E Ellington From Apolis

Apolis

Ultra-durable, ultra-stylish

Where to buy

$58+ at Apolis
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