My favorite reusable shopping bags

My favorite reusable shopping bags

With the news that Montreal has banned plastic shopping bags, people are talking about reusable bags again. In May of 2015, I wrote a piece about my favorite type of reusable shopping bag, and how to make sure you always have one with you. Here is a re-vamped version of that article:

Like many people, I have a bag full of reusable bags in my house; there are promotional ones from banks and clothing stores, ones I have purchased at grocery stores, and ones that people have given to me. There are a whole range of sizes and materials: cotton, nylon, and non-woven polypropelyne (that’s the ubiquitous freebie promotional bag with a printed logo on it).

Out of all of those options, I far prefer the nylon ones. A few in my collection are nylon shopping bags that my mother purchased from Federated Coop circa 1990. Those bags are now almost 30 yrs old and still going strong. They are lightweight, fold up small, the material is strong (you can pack them heavy and not worry about them ripping) and they wash well.

The only downside to the 25yr old bags (in my opinion) is that they are a bit small for my uses, and we only have a few of them left. Enter, Envirosax. I stumbled upon these gems about seven years ago in the gift section of McNalley Robinson Booksellers (they no longer carry this brand, but they do carry BB Begonia which is very similar). They are nylon bags that come in solid colours or elegant prints, made to be a generous size, and the handle fits comfortably in your hand or over your shoulder. What I like best is that each one rolls up like a sushi-sized sleeping bag with its own built-in snap closure. Most other new nylon shopping bags have a separate stuff pouch that is likely to get lost. Either way, it’s nice to have at least some way of containing them, because without being rolled up or inside a stuff pouch they are much less convenient to carry around.

To make sure I always have one with me, here’s the system that I use. I keep 3-4 of the bags in my purse at any given time. I use them for far more than just grocery shopping – they come in handy for carrying extra clothing, taking things to and from events and parties and, most of all, smaller unplanned shopping stops (oh, I’m going by X store, I’ll stop and get Y – good thing I have a bag with me!). My rule is that when I get home, the items must be taken out of the bag, I roll up the bag, and put it RIGHT back in my purse; otherwise I’m stuck without them when I need them the next time.  I don’t personally find keeping bags in the car to be useful. I either forget to put them back in the car, forget them in the car when I get to the store, or I’m on foot or on my bike and don’t have my car with me. That’s why I prefer something compact and lightweight I can easily carry on me at all times.

One drawback to good nylon bags is the cost. Even when my mom purchased that initial set of bags 25 years ago, they were pretty pricy. I have built up a collection of my own one bag at a time, when I have seen them for a good price. I find that around $10-$15/bag is average. Now that I have them, it will be a long time before I ever have to replace them. Look for the brands Envirosax, BB begonia or LOQI online. There are patterns and designs to suit all tastes. Many are so pretty they look like works of art!

What about you – do you have shopping bags that you absolutely love? Do you have concerns about using reusable bags instead of single use plastic ones? Join the conversation below.