If you think you might be using too much plastic, there's a good chance much of it is coming from your weekly trip to the grocery store. Stocking up on fruits, veggies and other produce usually means tearing off several plastic bags per visit — and that can have a negative impact on the environment. But if you're looking for a more sustainable, eco-friendly alternative, in the grocery store and elsewhere, reusable produce bags offer an easy and convenient solution to plastic produce bags.
In the Good Housekeeping Institute, we assess everyday sustainable alternatives like reusable grocery bags, straws, baggies and sandwich bags, and of course, produce bags. We tested these using performance evaluations like quality of the bag's top closure and resistance to accidental opening; durability evaluations to review the bag's construction and ability to stand up to wear and tear, and resist fraying; and ease of use evaluations to determine how easy it is to open and close the bag, fill the bag and carry the bag.
We also note how easy it is to clean the produce bags and give points for a wide selection of size options. In some cases, we have sent produce bags home with consumer testers who rate the bags based on their personal grocery shopping experience and overall satisfaction. After testing a wide rage of green produce bags, we've determined the best reusable produce bags, whether you're looking for the best reusable produce bags in cotton and mesh as well as those that are best for greens and keeping produce fresh.
The below picks (or similar versions) include top-tested picks from Lab and consumer testing or road-tested favorites of our experts and editors. Here are the best reusable produce bags to buy:
- Best Overall Reusable Produce Bag: Lotus Produce Bags Reusable Netted Mesh Bags
- Best Reusable Produce Bag for Bulk Buys: Purifyou Reusable Mesh Produce Bags
- Best Value Reusable Produce Bag: Natural Home Reusable Produce Bags
- Best Reusable Produce Bag for Grains and Nuts: Simple Ecology Reusable Organic Muslin Produce Bags
- Best Reusable Produce Bag for Keeping Food Cold: PackIt Freezable Grocery Bag
- Best Single-Size Reusable Produce Bag Set: Flip and Tumble Reusable Produce Bags
- Most Stylish Reusable Produce Bag: IKEA KUNGSFORS Net Produce Bags
Experts in the GH Kitchen Appliances Lab and the GH Cleaning Lab, plus the GH Institute director swear by these ultra-durable reusable produce bags. In fact, products from Lotus Reusable Bag consistently outperform competitors in our tests. Consumer reviews on Amazon for the 9-piece set are equally outstanding, with no rating under 4.8. They are versatile, easy to use and easy to close. Rest assured they also stay closed thanks to the highly effective bead closure on the drawstring, so you'll never have to worry about things falling out of the bag during transport. They're perfect for all kinds of veggies, including greens but can also be used for travel, corralling toy pieces and more.
- Durable construction and strong closure
- Tight mesh helps contain items
- Easy to wash and care for
- Material can feel slippery
These mesh produce bags are made of polyester, so they're durable without being heavy. Each has a colorful tag attached that states the bag's tare weight (a.k.a. the weight of an empty bag), which makes it much easier to purchase produce sold by weight. This set comes with three different sizes, ranging from 12x8 inches to 12x17 inches so you can fit bigger items (like heads of lettuce).
- Easy to fold
- Flimsy drawstring and closure
Coming out to just over a dollar each, this set of five produce bags is a good choice if you're new to using reusable bags — you can try them out for the price of your morning latte. And if you find yourself constantly forgetting to use them, at least they can take on another purpose (like as a small laundry bag to keep your socks together!).
- Easy to clean
- Nice price
- Drawstring closure lacks stopper bead
If you're buying more than just fruits and veggies at the store, these muslin bags are a better alternative to mesh. Because there are no holes, these are great for smaller foods like grains, nuts, flour, and sugar because won't fall through. The product page features a handy chart to help you figure out what fits in each size bag available. Plus, they're certified by the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) for Ecology and Social Responsibility
- GOTS certified
- Durable construction
- Not see-through
PackIt's grocery tote bags have a freezable gel liner, so you can be sure that your produce stays at a safe temperature until you get home. One of the brand's other lunch bags was our best tested in the category — it was the only one to stay at a safe temperature for 5 1/2 hours. To use it, fold it flat and put it in the freezer the night before you plan to head out shopping. In the morning, pull it out and you're ready to shop.
- PVC-, BPA-, phthalate- and lead-free
- Stable, wide bottom design
- Easy to clean inside and out
- Shoulder strap is not adustable
These reusable bags have color-coded tags, so you can use the same one for a specific type of produce each week if you prefer. They're all the same size, too, so you don't have to worry about grabbing one that's too small. One Reddit user in r/ZeroWaste has been using these eco-friendly bags every week for years without noticing much wear or tear.
- Great for large and long items
- Made of durable polyester
- Color-coded tabs
- Drawstring closure lacks stopper bead
These bags from IKEA have wide netting, so you can safely store your fruits and veggies in them without worrying about ventilation. They also have carrying handles that let them double as regular grocery bags (and look stylish when hanging on hooks in your kitchen!). They come as a set of two.
- Flexible size
- Stylish design
- Easy to hang near your front door or in a pantry
- Handle isn't long enough to throw over your shoulder
- Small items fall through holes
Material: The produce bags in our roundup (with the exception of PackIt) are all made of cotton or polyester. Lexie Sachs, Textiles Director of the Good Housekeeping Institute explains.
- Cotton is typically more sustainable and feels natural and luxe, she says, and gets stronger when wet so you don’t have to worry about water dripping from products and/or humid areas.
- Muslin is a type of cotton fabric that's typically lightweight and breathable; from an airflow standpoint, it’s a great choice.
- Polyester is more durable and affordable than cotton, so it’s good if you’re on a budget, but dirt and oil can stick to it more easily and therefore, it requires more cleaning.
Weave: The smaller the holes, the less likely food will fall through. The larger the holes, the more accommodating of irregular-shaped ingredients. Tighter knits trap more stains, though both types should be washed often. Weave type also directly affects air flow (the more air that most refrigerated ingredients are exposed to, the quicker they'll go bad, although fruits and veggies that don't belong in the fridge, like potatoes and onions, benefit from air flow.)
Weight: The lighter, the better, so you can bunch them up easily for storage and not run up the cost of your grocery bill when the items are weighed at the register — a way around this is to look for bags that list the tare weight so cashiers can easily take that into account.
Closure: They way produce bags close is important even though it seems like a small detail. Look for zippers or stoppers on drawstrings to help prevent spills.