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Sustainable alternatives to plastic bags that are just as convenient to use

Taylor Bell
·6-min read

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In The Know is proud to celebrate sustainable businesses during the month of April. During In The Know’s Sustainability Month, our team will highlight sustainable products you should know. We encourage you to support today — and beyond

It’s no secret that pollution is a problem, and a large part of that pollution comes from single-use plastic bags. Plastic bags are used for everything from your garbage to your produce, but there are more sustainable and eco-friendly plastic bag alternatives you can turn to instead of a plastic baggie.

There’s no better time than now to ditch plastic bags once and for all. More than 4 million tons of plastic bags, wraps and sacks are consumed in the U.S each year, but less than half a million of that waste ends up a recycling bin, according to a 2018 report by the EPA.

The concern over plastic bag use has become such a problem that several major cities in the U.S. — including Los Angeles, Boston and Chicago — have banned single-use plastic bags at retail stores. 

The good news for consumers is that there are plenty of eco-friendly plastic bags and alternatives available to make the swap easier than ever. For starters, consider opting for compostable plastic bag alternatives when you can’t make a swap to something reusable, like for garbage and pet waste. You should also seek out reusable alternatives to single-use plastics, like tote bags for grocery hauls and reusable produce bags instead of the plastic bags in the produce section at your grocery store. You might even ditch your Ziploc bags for these popular Stasher bags that are made of food-grade silicone. 

While it may take time to completely wean off of single-use plastics entirely, here are some other sustainable swaps to start with. Keep scrolling to get all the details on the best alternatives to single-use plastic bags like Stasher’s silicone bags, compostable trash bags and reusable produce bags.

1. A sustainable alternative to plastic sandwich bags: Stasher silicone food storage bags

stasher bags
stasher bags

If you’re wondering what else you can use besides a plastic baggies to store food and leftovers on the go, check out Stasher’s silicone food storage bags. These food-grade silicone bags are microwave, dishwasher, freezer and boiling water safe. Use them around the house to store leftovers and for meal prepping, or take them out of the house in packed lunches, to hold car snacks or to organize essentials while you travel. Pair them with some of Cadence’s magnetic travel containers and you’re set for your next getaway.

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2. A sustainable alternative to plastic grocery bags: A set of canvas tote bags

tote bags
tote bags

If you’re the type of person who makes grocery shopping an olympic sport, then consider these cotton canvas tote bags on your next food haul from Trader Joe’s. The cotton canvas fabric is super durable so you can lug around heavy groceries with ease. Not to mention, each bag is biodegradable and perfect to reuse as a regular tote for carrying other household items. 

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3. A sustainable alternative to plastic wrap: Bee’s Wrap reusable food wraps

Credit: Amazon
Credit: Amazon

Another way to cut back on your plastic use is through these Bee’s Wrap beeswax-coated food storage wraps. They’re a great alternative for plastic wrap and an easy substitute for plastic sandwich bags. You can also use them to preserve fruits, veggies or whatever food you’d like. Plus, they’re easily washable and have a non-toxic seal that helps keep your food nice, fresh and free from synthetic ingredients. 

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4. Alternatives to plastic bags for cat litter and dog poop: Compostable waste bags

compostable waste bags
compostable waste bags

If you’re tired of going through rolls of plastic bags for your cat’s litter or your dog’s poop, there are sustainable swaps you can make. For example, these compostable waste bags are great for collecting your pet’s waste. They claim to “decompose within 180 days,” depending on the environment. The bags are made from plant starches and are designed for discarding small food scraps, but can used in all kinds of ways around the house. 

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5. Alternatives to plastic bags for garbage: compostable trash bags

compostable trash bags
compostable trash bags

While it may seem impossible to get away from plastic trash bags, there are more eco-friendly options than you think. These compostable 13-gallon trash bags are a good option to use instead of plastic bags for garbage. Use them in your kitchen bin, or just swap to them in your home office or bathroom to start.

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6. Sustainable alternatives to plastic bags for produce: Reusable produce bags for fruit and vegetables

ecowaare store bags
ecowaare store bags

For storing all your fresh produce, these best-selling reusable produce bags are a total must-have. The mesh material helps with breathability and keeping your produce fresh. You can use them to pack any food you like or take them with to the grocery store. They come in three sizes and have a drawstring opening for easy access.

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7. A sustainable carry-all bag: An organic cotton net bag

wide mesh tote bag
wide mesh tote bag

If you’re traveling with one bag to the farmer’s market, let it be this super roomy mesh tote bag from Public Goods. It’s made from 100% organic cotton and can fit everything from a bushel of lettuce to clothes from your laundry. It’s also easily washable and doesn’t contain any synthetic materials. 

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8. An eco-friendly alternative to Ziploc bags for traveling: Cadence’s magnetic travel containers for toiletries and liquids

cadence
cadence

If you use Ziploc bags and when you’re traveling to organize your liquids and toiletries, here’s a sustainable swap you might like. Cadence’s magnetic travel containers are shaped like hexagons so they easily snap together into one easy-to-store honeycomb shape. The containers are made from recycled ocean-bound plastic and are entirely leak-proof, so you can travel with peace of mind. Use them to store your favorite moisturizer and face wash on a weekend trip, or to organize your vitamins and jewelry on getaway. They’re TSA compliant and BPA-free, so you can travel easier than ever before — plastic bag free, of course.

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If you liked this story, check out this single Swedish dishcloth that can replace 17 rolls of paper towels.

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