Plastic bags might be convenient, they might be strong, and they might be readily available. What no-one would ever mistake them for is environmentally friendly. In an attempt to shine up our eco-credentials, more and more of us are choosing to say no to single-use plastic and hello to the alternatives. But what exactly are the alternatives? Here’s ten to get you started.
1. A Paper Bag
Paper bags might lack the strength of plastic bags, but providing you’re not carrying anything hugely heavy, they should get you from A to Z safely enough. Best of all, they contain no nasty chemicals, are eco-friendly, fully recyclable, and easy to fold and store for your next trip to the store. If you’re worried that a paper bag won’t stand up to the weight of your groceries, try slipping one paper bag inside another – it’ll add an extra layer of strength without leaving you at the mercy of single-use plastic.
2. A Canvas Tote Bag
If you want a strong, sturdy alternative to a plastic bag, a canvas tote bag makes a great option. Available in a huge variety of styles, colors, sizes, and shapes, they can look great slung over a shoulder as a day bag – although if you prefer, they can just as easily be scrunched or folded down to fit inside a regular bag. Buy one yourself or buy the material to make one at home – they’re surprisingly simple to make and can be accessorized in just about every way imaginable.
3. A Reusable Plastic Bag
If you want to do your bit for the environment but aren’t quite ready to sacrifice the convenience and reliability of plastic just yet, a reusable plastic bag might suit. As webstaurantstore.com notes, reusable plastic bags have all the durability and flexibility of regular plastic bags, but with several key advantages. Easy to clean, made with recyclable, durable HDPE or LDPE plastics, available in biodegradable options, and offering a much cheaper, longer term solution to regular plastic bags, they occupy a safe middle ground between single-use plastics (bad) and eco-friendly alternatives (good).
4. A Mesh Bag
As wellnessmama.com recommends, a mesh bag makes an excellent alternative to plastic, and can hold most types of produce safely. You can buy the bags cheaply online and at various brick and mortar stores, but if you’d rather put your handicraft skills to the test, you’ll find them easy enough to make yourself at home with no more than a pair of scissors, a needle and thread, an old t-shirt, and the bare minimum of sewing skills.
5. A Metal Trolley
If you’re a regular visitor to your local farmer’s market, why not skip the bags completely and invest in a metal trolley? Sure, they’re a little bulkier than other options, and they certainly won’t suit your purposes if you were looking for something small and foldable that would fit conveniently into your usual day bag. But if you want something reliable, sturdy, built to last a lifetime, and capable of holding a huge amount of produce while still being easily portable, it won’t disappoint.
6. A Woven Rattan Bag
If you want a sustainable, fashionable alternative to plastic bags, a woven rattan bag could be just the ticket. Readily available in a wide variety of sizes, styles, colors, and designs, they might not be as cheap as a plastic bag, but they’ll do a lot less harm to the environment – and look far better dangling from your arm than single-use plastic ever could.
7. A Mason Jar
We might think of plastic bags mainly as a convenient way of transporting produce home from the store, but most of us are just as guilty of using single-use plastic in the home as we are outside it. If your kitchen cupboards and fridge are full of plastic bags, finding a new way of storing your food is going to be crucial if you want to reduce your plastic consumption. Glass mason jars present an excellent solution, allowing you to keep food fresh and your conscious clear at the same time. Mason jars can be recycled if need be, but can otherwise just be washed and reused for as long as you need. Providing they don’t smash, they won’t deteriorate and will always stay as fresh and useable as the day you bought them.
8. A Denim Bag
Denim is tough, sturdy, and will stand up to lots of use… perfect then, for carrying your produce back from the store. You’ll find plenty of options available to buy, but if you’ve got a bit of time on your hands, you could try familyhandyman.com’s suggestion of making one yourself out of an old pair of denim jeans. Simply cut the legs off at the desired point (the length of the bag will be the length from the waistband to the end of the cut leg), sew a double hem along the seam, attach some hooks and handles and there you have it- a sturdy carrier with a difference.
9. A Cardboard Box
Most stores have a collection of cardboard boxes hanging around, and most will be more than happy to let you have a few to carry your groceries home in. Not only are they strong and durable, they can also be easily recycled or reused again – just keep a few in the back of the car ready for your next trip to the store.
10. A Jute Bag
Jute bags are a strong, resilient alternative to plastic bags. Simple and stylish enough that you can just as easily take one to work as you could to the store or the beach, they are inexpensive, widely available, and will go a long way to cementing your eco-credentials. If you prefer a more colorful look, you’re not limited to the traditional jute design – look around, and you’ll find plenty of dyed or patterned options to choose between.