Many American consumers and a number of grocery stores have embraced the idea of reusable grocery bags as a move away from disposable bags to help reduce the amount of garbage in our landfills. But what qualities does a reusable bag need to have to make it actually better for the planet than using disposable bags?
Afterall, even the best reusable grocery bags still need to be manufactured. So how do we know if producing all these reusable bags is actually better than using disposable bags? This gets at the idea of “sustainability.” According to the dictionary, sustainable means being “able to be maintained at a certain rate or level and conserving an ecological balance by avoiding depletion of natural resources.” In other words, sustainability basically means preserving what resources we have so there is enough for us and our future generations. A reusable bag that is truly “eco-friendly” needs to be sustainable, depleting less resources than disposable bags and helping to reduce the amount of garbage in landfill.
With this definition in mind, one of the first things to know is that a “reusable” bag needs to last a long time, or it starts to become almost like a disposable bag, defeating the purpose all-together. A 2018 Danish Study looking at the number of times a bag should be reused before being discarded, found that:
- polypropylene bags (most of the green reusable bags found at supermarkets) should be used 37 times
- paper bags should be used 43 times
- cotton bags should be used 7,100 times.
So, when you choose a reusable bag, make sure it can hold a lot of weight, that it’s durable and will stand up to at least 50 uses, hopefully more. Most scientists agree that polypropylene bags are much better for the environment than cotton bags. For example, meori nylon Pocket Shoppers can hold up to 30 lbs., the meori Grocery Baskets and Essential Totes hold up to 65 lbs. which, by the way, is more than enough unless you are buying bricks at the grocery store.
Beyond durability, reusable bags aren’t really all that reusable if they aren’t functional and do the things, we want them to do. In other words, what is it we like about the bag? Some things to consider – are they easy to store, do they have extra interior pockets for car keys and breakable items like chocolate bars (an essential item in our household) does the bag have a structured bottom that will hold the groceries in place in your car. Both the meori Grocery Basket and the meori Essential Totes have structured bottoms and interior pockets.
Another aspect of functionality is whether or not you can use your shopping bag as a multi-tasker to run errands, carry fitness gear, or take with on weekend getaways. That is why we have designed three different types of bags – the Pocket Shopper, the Grocery Basket and Market Tote, and the Essential Tote in three sizes. So, make sure to choose the bag that will give you the most versatility, whether you are carrying your laptop to and from work, stopping off at the gym on your way to work, or heading out of town for that special weekend.
But enough about function, because let’s be honest, it’s also important that the bags are fashionable, go with our outfits, or match our car. That’s why at meori, we have created a whole line of stylish Reusable Grocery Bags in over 30 colors, patterns and styles, including florals, stripes, and metallics. Yes, we have basic black, but we also have fun, bright colors and classic patterns like stripes and polka dots. We understand that if you really are going to use your bag over and over, it probably should look the part, whatever your style is.
Another aspect of reusability is remembering the bag in the first place when you get to the grocery store. If you forget your reusable shopping bags, you will be forced to use the disposable ones (and maybe even pay for them.) That is why we designed our Pocket Shoppers with an extra tiny stuff bag that clips easily onto your keychain, backpack, or purse. And meori Grocery Baskets fold flat when not in use, making them super easy to store in the car or SUV.
Finally, being able to wash your reusable bags is sometimes important. We recommend using our Pocket Shoppers for potentially messy items (in situations where reusable produce bags are used) because they clean up beautifully in the washing machine. And our Grocery Baskets and Essential Totes are made from easy-to-clean polyester material that wipe clean with a damp sponge.
So, if you are like us, you want to make sure that your reusable shopping bag is actually helping and not hurting the planet. Make sure it is durable, functions well, looks great, and washes up easily.