Shopping Bag Buying Guide – All You Need to Know

Shopping Bag Buying Guide – All You Need to Know

If you could list the most entertaining pastimes in the world today, shopping would certainly feature among the top – at least for a section of the majority! It is quite evident from the number of shopping malls sprouting regularly in cities and towns, that this concept is here to stay. Who doesn’t like a deal?

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How do you equip yourself to face this trend of shopping in bigger places for better bargains? Start out with a sassy shopping bag, of course! In this guide, take a look into the fantastic world of shopping bags. These bags are made for our convenience in an array of fashions, sizes, materials and styles. Choose your right bag depending on its purpose.

Reasons to invest in Shopping bags

Even as the world gets increasingly modernized with time-saving gadgets, we find ourselves hard pressed for time. Multi-tasking is not an option any more. It is a dire necessity. Once you set out for the day, it is much more judicious to be planned and prepared to finish as many chores and tasks as you can. It can save valuable time, fuel and money. It is, therefore, very important to have a shopping bag in your possession at all time.

Wherever we go to shop, whether it is a supermarket, a departmental store, a stationary shop, specialty store or a grocery shop, a shopping bag is essential. A shopping bag is actually, just as important to the seller. With the brand logo or the name of the shop printed on it, the shopping bag can serve as an excellent advertising sign and promote sales. For this reason, many shops provide complimentary shopping bags to customers.

These are a few good reasons for you to buy shopping bags

  • First of all, having your own shopping bag gives you a sense of self-sufficiency and independence.
  • When you have a collection of shopping bags of different sizes and materials, you will be well-equipped to shop for anything, irrespective of the weather conditions.
  • Small shopping outlets and large supermarkets do pack our purchase in their own plastic bags. But such bags are invariably of poor quality and will not be able to support heavy loads.
  • Plastic bags given by the stores are quite small in size and you may end up with numerous small bags that are unwieldy.
  • When you have your own bags, you can sort your purchase and put them into specific bags, even at while you are at the billing counter! This can save so much time when you get home, especially after a long day.
  • Importantly, by carrying your own bag, you are contributing to the betterment of our environment in a small but sure way.

In a few countries like South Korea, it is almost mandatory to bring your own shopping bags. In case you forget to bring one along, you will have to purchase a recycle able plastic bag from the counter, at a much higher price than is usual! This is done, chiefly to discourage people from using plastic bags and create a society that is environmentally aware.

Types of Shopping bags

Depending on the things you are shopping for, there are a wide variety of shopping bags to choose from. Here is a list of the most commonly used shopping bags.

Comparison of material

Shopping bags are made of many different types of material. While cotton bags are among the oldest, many new and biodegradable materials are also being experimented with. The problem with many bio degradable bags is the concern of contamination due to repeated use. Using bags of washable material like cotton can solve this problem.

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Since the main objective is to use a sturdy bag for years without the risk of contamination, the material chosen must be very durable. Both cotton and canvas are popular choices as they have the same eco- print as growing and harvesting cotton plants. Importantly, they both are bio degrade able. Each material used has its own characteristic features, pros and cons.

  • Cotton – Easily cleaned, durable, can be expensive, Bio degradable, does not give a structure to the bag, and causes little environmental impact.
  • Canvas – Durable, easily cleaned, more structure than cotton, Bio degradable, stands upright without help and environmental impact is less.
  • Polypropylene – Very easy to clean and wipe off. Very sturdy and can start upright without support. Plastic, yet, biodegradable
  • Polyester and Synthetic – Affordable, easy to clean, derived from natural gas and oils. Non bio degradable.

Plastic Shopping bags



When we think of shopping, the image that conjures up in our mind is that of the ubiquitous, two-handled plastic bag that has become synonymous with shopping! It is popularly referred as the ‘T-shirt bag’ and is extensively used because of its capacity to hold a number of things. It can be easily stored in check – out counters and also in large quantities in mass storage rooms as they occupy very little space in comparison to bags made of other materials.

Due to environmental concerns about using plastic, most of these bags are now made with recycled plastic. Many stores keep a recycle bin outside their shop where the used bags could be deposited to be recycled. Although this type of bag is not considered a reusable shopping bag, many shoppers do bring back their used plastic bags and put their new purchase into them. Plastic bags also come in a range of colors, materials, prints and styles.

Paper Shopping bags


Paper shopping bags are also popular like the plastic bags. Paper bags are 100% recycle able. They come in a variety of colors and in prints like plaid, animal prints, or solids. Paper bags are also made of recycled material. They are capable of holding many things but care should be taken to ensure that the bag is not loaded too much or it may tear.

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It is advisable to store paper shopping bags in a place that is dry and free from moisture.  This will help in preserving the integral shape of the paper bag. Paper bags come in various sizes. All paper bags are recyclable. There are bins for depositing used paper bags.

Reusable Shopping bags


The concept of ‘use and throw’ was considered a novel idea and fervently followed a few decades ago. But, ‘reuse and recycle’ is the mantra of the modern age. Environmental degradation, pollution, global warming and fluctuating weather patterns have compelled us to set our priorities in order. Single use paper and plastic bags are no longer good options. Reusable bags are preferred and patronized by one and all. Take a look at few of the choices available.

Reusable Canvas Shopping bags


These bags are made of actual canvas material or of cotton or linen cloth or a combination of cotton and linen. The bags are often in the shape of an apple. Most of the bags will have two handles. The bags are convenient for all types of shopping, especially clothing and grocery. Canvas bags are rugged and durable. They can be used to reliably carry heavy loads.

Reusable Plastic Shopping bags



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Just like canvas bags, reusable plastic bags are also meant for repeated use. Unlike the single use plastic bags, these are made of sturdier and heavier plastic such as polypropylene plastic or nylon that are characterized by their durability. So, they can endure several shopping trips. Even though they are made of non biodegradable plastic, environmentalists still approve of these bags because of their durability.

Important Tips for Reusable Grocery bags

Reusable shopping bags have both economic and environmental benefits in the long run. For this reason, they are being assiduously promoted by consumers, Government and environmental agencies and the retail industry.

Their advantages are undeniable, but there are certain health and food safety concerns that cannot be overlooked. These are of great import, especially in the case of reusable grocery bags.

Certain food, such as raw produce,   meat, poultry, and fish contain bacteria that cause food borne illnesses. Reusable bags pick up and accumulate the bacteria from these foods. This can then cross – contaminate other foodstuff and even non – food items if immediate and appropriate action is not taken.

Follow the guidelines suggested below. These food safety tips will lower the risk of cross – contamination.

At home

  • Reusable shopping bags should be either hand – washed or machine – washed frequently. Dry the bags in a clothes line or let them air dry.
  • After you put away all groceries in their places, clean the areas where the bags were placed when you were un – bagging the groceries, especially the kitchen counter and the kitchen table, which may be used later for preparing or serving food.
  • If by any chance, food residues from any food product have leaked into the bag, make sure to wash and dry the bag very well before reusing it.
  • Store grocery bags far away from sources of contamination such as pets, children, and chemicals.
  • If you had used reusable grocery bags to transport non- food items like household cleaning agents, detergents and other chemicals, wash and dry the bag thoroughly before using it again for buying food items.
  • It is a better idea to allocate specific bags of a color for food products and another color of bags for non- food items. This will save a lot of confusion.
  • Don’t store reusable grocery bags in the trunk of your car. During the summer months, increased temperatures can actually promote rapid growth of bacteria that may be present in the bags.

At the store

  • Always keep the reusable bags in the bottom shelf of the grocery cart, below the cart basket where the food products are placed.
  • It is advisable to always carry a small hand sanitizer when you plan to purchase fresh produce. Cleanse your hands before hand- picking the produce.
  • It is not a bad idea to have a pair of disposable hand gloves with you. You can put them on before you handle the produce.
  • When you are selecting packages of meat or poultry or fish, put the packages in clear plastic bags in order to prevent leaking juices from dripping on other food items and contaminating them.
  • Place fresh produce in clear plastic bags. This will keep the produce from getting contaminated.
  • During check- out, never keep your reusable grocery bag on the conveyor belt. Give the bags to the bagger/ checker. If you are self- bagging, take the bags to the bagging area at the end of the check- out area.
  • Non- food items should be kept in separate reusable bags from food products.
  • Fish, meat and poultry should be packed in separate reusable bags.

If we can make it a habit to follow the simple food safety tips, we can be sure of reusing the reusable grocery bags without any fear or risk of food borne illness.

Leather Tote Shopping bags


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Tote bags are usually big and roomy. They are rectangular in shape. They have a zipper or magnetic closure at the top. They may have a single large interior with lining or several individual compartments inside. An external compartment is also usually provided. They are also provided with separate compartments for storing mobile phones, keys and coins. The strap is usually long enough to be worn on the shoulders.

For people who want to carry a number of items, a tote bag is ideal. Many women prefer a Tote shopping bag for its capacity to hold numerous things and its durability and strength.

Creative Shopping bags



Rather than carrying around a non- descript and dull shopping bag around, many people believe in designing their own ‘signature’ bags that are unique in their style. They could reflect your own personality or make a voiceless statement to create awareness about an important global issue. Whether these bags are strong enough to hold the articles you’ve bought or not, they are sure to hold the gaze of any passer- by!


Every time you refuse a non-biodegradable plastic bag, you are contributing to a cleaner and greener Earth!