A Guide To Reusable Supermarket Bags

A Guide To Reusable Supermarket Bags

Reusable supermarket bags are environmentally friendly, but only if you actually use them, many times. And you’re probably not using the crappy “reusable” bags you got from your local Coles or Woolworths, which sit in your kitchen cabinet until you eventually throw them out.

Meanwhile, you end up out somewhere and suddenly need a bag. Your purse or backpack is already carrying whatever it usually carries. So you use like five disposable plastic bags and you feel like a schmuck and your hands hurt.

You need a better bag. A big bag that can hold almost anything, whether it’s bulky, fragile, or wet. And you need to have it on you at all times.

Buy the Right Bag

You’ll only use a bag you actually like. And you’ll like your bag if it’s:

  • Compact: Small enough to shove in your pocket.

  • Comfortable: With a long handle you can sling over your shoulder.

  • Self-contained: Rolls up into itself or a built-in little holder bag.

  • Big and strong: Can carry a heavy load of library books or groceries.

  • Pretty: Not embarrassing to carry.

Whatever you get, pay attention to the size. Get a big one. Because they don’t hold much of a shape, there’s not much downside to a bigger bag.

Avoid canvas totes, which are heavy and bulky. I mean, if you want to carry a bundle of canvas totes to the greenmarket, good on you. But they’re terrible “carry everywhere” bags.

Stop Whining About Supermarket Bags Because This IKEA Solution Is Perfect

For the last month, much of Australia has been gripped in an insane tempest of petulance and stupidity because single-use plastic bags aren't available in supermarkets any more. This is so first-world problems it's almost as embarrassing as our national energy policy, but for anyone who is still stressing about this, I'm here to tell you IKEA can save you.

Read more

Take It Everywhere

Because you really never know when you’ll need more storage space, especially if you’re going without a car. Keep your everywhere bag in your coat pocket, your backpack, or your purse. Carrying a bag in a bag might feel awkward, but it’s way less awkward than carrying stuff in your arms.

A sometimes bag is almost as useless as no bag. You’ll end up getting a disposable bag from the store, or carrying a pile of stuff in your arms and you’ll have wasted your money and carbon footprint on an extra piece of nylon trash.

Clean It

The greatest thing about these bags is that you can get them filthy and just wash them out in the sink. And you really need to wash them if you’re carrying food in them. Get two, so you can take one out while the other air-dries. (It’s OK, again, so long as you’re really using them.)

Don’t Take Free Bags

Don’t accept free bags from organisations and companies. They’re always bulky and ugly and cheaply made, so you won’t end up using them. Whenever you can, discourage the handing out of these unwanted bags, which are making the environment worse.

Of course, you will get stuck with these bad bags against your will. One charity mailed one to me, which is shameful. Put all your Salvos donations in them, so you can drop the bag right off.


  • Ikea has great bags: Knalla carrier bags. They fold up very small and easily fit in a back pocket. They hold about as much as the plastic bags you get from coles/woolies.

  • A great guide for those of us that just do a single bag shop.

    Dear Lifehacker, recommend me a “string” bag that will hold at least 3x3liters of milk made of fine enough mesh to hold the small sized catfood cans.

  • Rather than stuffing my pockets with bags just in case I get somewhere to buy something.

    I’m taking the opposite approach if I get somewhere without a bag and they don’t do boxes etc to make it easy to carry. Then the stuff stays on the shelf and I don’t buy it.

    And if I have a bag and it’s full shopping stops.

    Just think of all the optional and non critical purchases I’m going to leave on the shelves and the amount of money staying in my pocket.

Show more comments

Comments are closed.

Log in to comment on this story!