Reusable Bags to Replace Disposable Ones

Look, I get it. Single-use plastic bags are just so convenient when you live a busy life with too much else going on. There’s a certain appeal to being able to grab one, use it for something, and just…throw it away. Out of sight, out of mind, right?

Ah, but therein lies the rub, I’m afraid. Once those bags leave your sight, that doesn’t mean they’ve left the planet. In fact, it’s estimated that each individual bag will take hundreds or even thousands of years to degrade. Geologists of the far, far future will likely one day discover a strange strata of pure plastic in the ground — the only remaining marker of our supremely wasteful age.

You don’t have to contribute to that ecological crime. In fact, there are more options than ever to make single-use plastic bags a thing of the past, and ones that are enjoyable to use, at that.

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  1. Peg and Awl “Marlowe” waxed canvas lunch bag. ($44)

    Got fond memories of taking brown-bagged lunches to school and on field trips? You can relive those days once again without having to throw the bag away every time. Made from 15 oz. waxed duck canvas, this durable, reusable ‘brown bag’ is ideal for carrying lunches or snacks — no matter your age — and has a front pocket for slipping a sweet handwritten note into.

    Use one for yourself to take to the office, or send one with your kid to school along with a motivational message to get them through the day. Whatever you do with it, the bag is easy to clean: Just wipe it down and you’re ready to use it again (and again).

  2. Planet Wise zipper sandwich bags. ($7 for individual bags, or $13 for a two-pack)

    Even more wasteful than the typical brown paper bag are all those plastic sandwich bags that get tossed out after one use. For same-day excursions, you can hardly go wrong with Planet Wise’s reusable food bags. They have food-safe EVA linings, they’re machine-washable, and the seams are waterproof to keep the food fresh while preventing leaks.

    Great for day/field trips, picnics, family outings, you name it. Plus, they’ve got a bunch of snazzy colorways/patterns available to keep things interesting.

  3. Stasher silicone food bags. ($10 for snack size, $12 for sandwich size, $20 for half-gallon size)

    Now, what about those times when you need to store food in your fridge for a few days, or marinate ingredients for a dish? What if you want to sous vide a meal, even? That’s where Stasher’s reusable silicone bags come in.

    These are more like the airtight, zip-lock style bags you’re familiar with, except they’re made from platinum-cured silicone, a non-toxic food-grade material with very high tensile strength and resistance to temperature extremes. It’s virtually indestructible stuff as long as you properly care for it.

    What that all means for you is, these bags are microwave- and dishwasher-safe, they can be used in the oven (up to 400°F) or boiling water, you can freeze them, and yes, they work for sous vide.

  4. Planet Wise reusable trash bag. ($14 for the small 5-gallon, $18 for the large 13-gallon)

    The same folks who make those zipper sandwich bags above also produce these reusable, leakproof trash bags, which save you from having to waste such a large amount of plastic every time you take out the garbage. They’re antimicrobial, machine-washable, and they come in a bunch of different prints/designs to match any space in your house.

    What’s nice about them is that they also work well as oversized wet bags for lining diaper pails with.

  5. Planet E grocery shopping bags. ($25 for set of three — other options also available)

    For your grocery store needs, Planet E’s reusable shopping bags are a solid choice, and we mean that literally. They’re more like collapsible boxes with handles and sturdy walls/bottoms than actual bags, but no less stylish for it. They’re also really roomy to boot.

    When you’re not using them for grocery trips, they make great trunk organizers, picnic totes, beach bags, etc — or, you can simply fold them flat until you need them again. What’s more, they’re made from 80gsm PET, a material created out of recycled plastic bottles, which means the bags are absolutely recyclable themselves when their lifetime is up.