The 10 leading supermarkets in the UK produce 1.2 billion single-use plastic product bags a year – so do your bit for the planet by investing in some handy reusable bags for your food shop

Many of us are now used to bringing our reusable shopping bags to the supermarket, but we still put loose fruit and vegetables into single-use plastic bags – a lot of them: the 10 leading supermarkets produce 1.2 billion a year, and “single-use” was Collins Dictionary’ official word of the year in 2018.

But there is an alternative – reusable fruit and veg bags are better for the planet and for your produce too: you won’t end up with slimy mushrooms or limp leaves.

Reusable produce bags should be see-through – in the interests of transparency – for you and shop staff. They must be lightweight, so you pay for the contents not the container, and easy to secure, so that your tomatoes don’t tumble out.

To withstand repeated use, they must be strong and washable. To find the best on offer, we tested a range of bags by taking them to supermarkets, greengrocers and markets.

Reusable fruit and veg bags are made of organic cotton, polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic drinks bottles and polyester. Cotton, even as mesh, isn’t as see-through as synthetics, so you may need to leave bags open at check-out. PET and polyester dry faster and are pretty indestructible.

Some show the tare weight (the bag’s weight) so the cashier can deduct it from the full weight of your purchases, but it’s negligible and isn’t possible everywhere.

We’ve found other uses for these bags, too: they’re ideal for washing-machine use for delicate underwear, face-cleansing cloths and trainers, or as storage for small items like reels of thread, toys, sunglasses, leads and charges when travelling.

Onya reusable produce bags: £11.75 for five, Earthwise Girls

Arriving in a compact cardboard box, this five-pack of white densely woven mesh bags weigh just 10g each, yet can handle up to 2kg. Each measures 30 x 25cm and the bottom has a double seam for strength and a black drawstring cord, which you’ll need to knot to secure your stuff. The bags’ rPet fabric is made from recycled polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic drinks bottles, and come with a red, purple, turquoise or green pouch to clip onto the handle of a shopping bag, belt, or keyring.

Turtle Bags medium organic cotton grocery bag: £2, Turtle Bags

Named after the leatherback turtles that visit British shores and mistake plastic bags for jellyfish, Turtle Bags was established in 2001 to raise awareness of marine plastic pollution. Their grocery bags are made of sturdy unbleached organic cotton mesh in two sizes: 25 x 30cm and 30 x 38cm, with a drawstring cord. The cotton has Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) organic certification, which means no pesticides or herbicides are used in its production, and the cotton farmers have safe working conditions and an agreed minimum wage.

Carrinet Veggio reusable fruit & veggie bags: £6.99 for five, Ethical Superstore

This five-bag white mesh set, made from recycled PET bottles, contains a one-litre bag (17 x 15cm), two six-litre bags (30 x 28cm) and two nine-litre bags (30 x 28cm). The larger ones have a seam on two sides and a green drawstring cord, and have been stress-tested to 10kg – perfect for loads of onions and potatoes. The smallest has a sliding-bead closure, making it ideal for other produce. All of them have a label designed to attach price stickers to, if the supermarket operates a self-weighing system.

A Slice of Green organic cotton mesh produce bag variety pack: £7 for three, A Slice of Green

This set of three small, medium and large bags (18 x 22cm; 26 x 32cm; 34 x 38cm – the largest would easily take a couple of cabbages or cauliflowers) – are designed and distributed by a Wiltshire-based company and responsibly produced by a family-run business in Tamil Nadu, India. They are made from organic and unbleached cotton that is The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified. There’s no bottom seam, only side seams, which means fewer weak points, and they close with a cotton drawstring. The tare weight features on the label of each bag, too.

SOURCE: The Independent UK