For fruit and vegetables we avoid the thin plastic bags on the roll in supermarkets. And we are over trying to buy them lose. Some options are:

  1. Upcycle: We made our original bags out of old curtain netting from a second hand shop. You can repurpose all sorts of things, like an old onion bag.
  2. Organic cotton: Re-think and My Vita Bag are great two options. Super strong, stylish, and no harm in the production or disposal of the product.
  3. Synthetic: Pouch Products and Onya. Light weight and compactable.
Organic cotton produce bags with fruit

For grocery shopping bags we now have plenty of options. Think about the bags themselves being zero waste. That means choosing a hardwearing natural material, like jute, hessian or canvas but it also means finding ones that aren’t lined. The lining is synthetic, added so the bag holds it shape. It means that you can’t compost or recycle it at end of life. It is harder to find these bags (they all seem to be cheap synthetic or synthetic lined) but well worth it! We have had our bags for over tens years now, you never regret buying quality 😉

Reusable jute shopping bags

A note on single use bags

Whatever its made of, single use bags have a big carbon footprint and can cause environmental degradation when the materials are sourced.

Plastic single use bags are illegal in New Zealand as of July 2019.

Other types of biodegradable bags can seem like a great alternative to plastic bags and are particularly promoted as bin liners. However, these are worse in the landfill because they emit methane, and often the claims of “compostable” mean nothing because we actually can’t compost them at home.

Some biodegradable plastics are merely standard plastic with a chemical added that makes them break down into fragments faster, but only ever breaks down into fragments and never completely disappears. Often these fragments find their way into oceans and waterways where they are mistaken as plankton by fish. The other problem is that these smaller fragments tend to attract molecules to themselves and end up being significantly more toxic than when initially produced.