Considerations for Buying Reusable Produce Bags
Some of the things you should keep in mind when buying reusable produce bags are: your motivation for buying them, and how the materials and their lifecycle accommodate that; what you intend to use them for, and what weave you’ll need; are they washable? And quality and cost.
Identify Your Motivation
Although those little plastic produce/bulk bags may be convenient, they make up a significant percentage of single use plastic bag waste annually. If your decision to buy reusable produce bags is based on making a difference in the environment, then you will want to consider the material and its lifecycle: what it is made from, how it is made, and where it is going when it wears out!
The most common reusable produce bag materials are cotton, burlap, nylon, polyester, and plastic. Considering the latter three involve some form of chemical process, and, although they help reduce the amount of overall waste plastic simply by being reusable, they will still add deleterious material to the environment at the end of their lifecycle. Conversely, cotton and burlap are biodegradable, and they add nothing harmful to the environment when they’re done.
Weave to Satisfy Your Need
Organic Cotton Mart uses its namesake for all of its reusable produce bags, focused around two weaves – mesh or muslin. Mesh weave is typically for large and firm fruits, vegetables, and nuts, while muslin is better for smaller and softer versions of the same. Both weaves are breathable and allow decent airflow, so the size of the bag is dependent on what you’re doing with it.
Which weave is better is dependent upon what you intend to use your reusable produce bags for. Routine shopping? You may want to consider muslin weave bags, how many you’ll need up front (many businesses offer discounts for larger orders), and how much you want to carry in each bag. Large bags mean more goods, but can also mean heavier loads. Also consider the bag’s weight; a good one will have its weight written on a tag for the cashier to subtract from the bill so that you’re only paying for your goods!
Long-term storage may be better suited with a mesh weave – not just because it’s breathable, but because you can see the state of what’s being stored through the bag! Additionally, produce bags can also be used to dry herbs, and both mesh and muslin bags can be used in your travel baggage to carry toiletries, etc. (if you have a lot of small, pointy items in your toiletries, muslin is probably your best bet).
Quality and Cost
Cheap bags are cheap for a reason, either due to low-quality materials or poor manufacture; buying replacements every year will be frustrating. Figure out how many you need, what your budget is, and search for a good quality-to-value ratio. Good quality should last you a very long time, thus helping you save money in the long term—and, of course, high-quality reusable produce bags that are biodegradable can make a significant positive impact on the environment.