Investing in reusable grocery bags is by far one of the easiest and most effective ways to make your kitchen more eco-friendly. In fact; it’s one of the easiest ways to get started with green living.
But, it’s more of an investment of time and dedication, than money.
In fact; you DON’T have to spend money to get your hands on some awesome reusable grocery bags. (Personally, I’ve never actually purchased a single bag in my life…but I have over a dozen of them somehow. They just keep appearing.)
Unless you’ve got some fancy-schmancy grocery bag fetish, then you do you.
Lucky for you, there are plenty of inexpensive or free ways to get a reliable stash of bags for your next shopping trip and I’m going to run through them for you in this article.
My Favorite 6 Sources for Cheap (or FREE) Reusable Grocery Bags
1. Snag Swag Bags from Trade Shows & Conferences
This is by far my absolute favorite way to get ahold of some really great reusable grocery bags.
In fact, now that I think about it, most of my bag collection is from this source:
If you happen to attend trade shows or conferences for work, keep an eye out for booths giving out printed canvas bags. While, because they’re cheap swag, they may not last forever but they’ll do the job for a long time. (Most of mine are alive and kicking after over 5 years of use.)
TIP: If you know of a local business that is going through or has gone through a rebrand, contact them to see what they are doing with their outdated swag. If they happen to have swag bags, they’d likely be happy to give them to you rather than throwing them out.
2. DIY Your Heart Out
Oh my gosh, the DIY options for reusable grocery bags are REAL!
If I didn’t already have such an incredible stash of bags, I’d be making some myself from old materials around the house.
- Old Towels
- Old T-Shirts and Hoodies
- Fabric Scraps
- Knit or Crochet
Whatever your preferred craft, there are oodles of DIY tutorials out there. Even if you’re not very good with that kind of thing, there are even no-sew options.
3. Shake Out Those Pillowcases
Have a pillow cloth or two that have been through the wringer and are looking a little worse for wear? Or, maybe you’ve got a couple of fancy pillow shams sitting around from before your recent home decor revamp.
Snag those babies and throw them in your car.
Boom! You’re ready for your next shopping trip.
In fact, pillowcases make really great bread bags for those bulky or long loaves of bread that just don’t fit in a produce bag. Plus, it keeps it from getting icky from rubbing up against the other goodies in your grocery bag.
4. Reuse or Upcycle Existing Bags
Reusable grocery bags don’t have to be cloth, canvas, or even infinitely reusable.
You can very easily bring your own paper bags or even heavy-duty plastic bags.
Occasionally, I will neglect to bring enough bags into the store with me and will go home with a paper bag. I tend to use them for my recycling, but you can definitely reuse them for groceries as many times as you dare. Just be careful with heavy items!
As much as we don’t want to be using plastic, if you have them – use them.
I actually have a thick, bright green plastic bag that I got when I purchased a baby shower gift and I’ve been holding onto it because it’s pretty heavy duty and might come in handy for a particularly messy or delicate item that shouldn’t go in with the other goodies…like bread or cut flowers.
Beach Bags or School Bags
In a pinch, you can temporarily repurpose a book bag or beach tote for the groceries!
5. Borrow from a Friend
I know, I know…borrowing doesn’t mean they’re cheap because you can’t keep them.
But, it will help you get used to using them and remembering to bring them with you to the grocery store.
Plus, it will give you the time to sort out your own reusable grocery bags using one of the other sources listed here, all the while being green!
6. Get (and Give) Bags as Gifts
This one is a bit outside the scope, I’ll admit. But, many of my surplus reusable grocery bags were actually received as a Christmas gift. They’re super cute, but I rarely use them because I have so many.
Ask for reusable canvas or cloth bags as a gift for Christmas, your birthday, or even as a house warming gift. Or, better yet, GIVE them as gifts to your favorite eco-conscious people!
On a side note, reusing gift bags is an option as well. I didn’t even think of this one until I was writing this section out. I tend to keep all the gift bags that I receive and reuse them, but in a pinch, they could definitely work as a grocery bag…you just might get a couple of stares.
7. If All Else Fails, Buy Em!
If you’ve exhausted every possible cheap or free source of reusable grocery bags…buy them!
While you should be able to find a few solid bags using the sources outlined above, sometimes the stars just don’t align. So, if you just can’t seem to find them, grab a few from your favorite grocery store or order them online.
Here are some of my favorite online sources for affordable reusable grocery bags:
Produce bags are a little different than grocery bags, and they help save you from using a TON of those plastic produce bags that aren’t recyclable. I happen to have a set of this exact bag and love them.
Etsy – This Shop is My Fave
There are a ton of fun options on Etsy, although they may not be the most affordable.
Farmer’s Markets & Craft Fairs
While not specific, this is a great place to get good quality bags for reasonable prices from your local crafters.
So, How’s Your Reusable Grocery Bag Stash Coming?
Let me guess, you took advantage of more than one of my sweet bag sources?
I would, too.
Hopefully, your grocery bag stash should be coming along nicely at this point and you won’t be scrambling to find a bag for your next shopping trip. Just remember to put them back in the car after you use them!
If you’ve got something to say about reusable grocery bags or any reusable container option, please leave me a comment below and I’ll follow up.
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