The One Thing You Should Never Leave the House Without

updated May 3, 2019
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(Image credit: Lauren Kolyn)

With recent plastic bag bans and eco-conscious movements sweeping the nation, now’s the time to plan ahead so you don’t find yourself in a pinch in the checkout line. Sprinkle your life with reusable bags: Keep one in your car, purse, and office so you never leave the house without one. And while you’re at it, why fill your cabinets, drawers, storage nooks with mediocre bags you only bought last minute out of necessity at the grocery store? Upgrade to some you’ll want to keep around for years to come. Here are a whole bunch of super functional and stylish reusable bags worth the purchase, and some DIY counterpoints.

(Image credit: Baggu)

Collapsible Bag from Baggu on Amazon; $12

Baggu bags are the quintessential convenience-meets-style multipurpose bag. They come in a slew of adorable patterns, they’re made of lightweight ripstop nylon, and they fold up into a tiny square. It’s easy to keep one of these in your purse 24/7 and never be without a bag. Their standard size is about like a plastic grocery bag (remember those, Californians?) but surprisingly roomy with sturdy straps long enough to hoist a pretty substantial grocery haul over your shoulder.

(Image credit: Ashley Poskin)

No-Sew Tote Out of a Pillowcase

If you have an aging pillowcase, or one that’s lost its mate, try this easy no-sewing-required DIY bag from one of our freelancers. This simple, useful, adorable project tackles all three R’s (reduce, reuse, recycle) at the same time.

(Image credit: IKEA)

Collapsible Bag from IKEA; $2

Of course, IKEA has their own wildly inexpensive version of the nylon collapsible bag, called KNALLA. It’s just as convenient and roomy as the Baggu bag, but less artsy in its design (and less fun colors and patterns to choose from).

(Image credit: Amazon)

Cotton Netted Bags from Amazon; $4.19 for two

According to whowhatwear, basic (read: affordable) netted bags are the new “French it-girl” everyday bag. These expandable netted bags are the perfect hammock for your produce and anything not-too-small to slip through the holes. You can even contain your loose goods in smaller bags (shopping bags, makeup bags, etc) and round them all up together in this stretchy see-through sling.

If you are feeling particularly knotty, make your own macramé produce bag meets backpack using this tutorial from Say Yes. All you need for the project is some basic cord and a pair of scissors

(Image credit: Target)

Parachute Nylon Shopper from Target; $20 (on clearance)

I love the durability and simplicity of this Parachute Nylon Shopper Tote from Target. It’s great because it has convenient shoulder straps in addition to handheld straps (which make that trunk shuffle much easier at the end of a long shopping day).

(Image credit: The Reformation)

Woven Market Tote from Reformation; $48

Inexpensive collapsible bags are great to have on hand, but sometimes you just want to go to the farmers market looking chic AF. This woven bag from Reformation is roomy enough for your product haul and Instagrammable enough for your weekly farmers market selfie.

Although this bag is already pretty enough for primetime, there are also tons of ways to embellish a basic woven straw bag, which are fun and worth checking out: pom poms, embroidery, tassels, fabric lining, and paint for starters.

(Image credit: Amazon)

Waxed Canvas Grocery Bag from Amazon; $30

Canvas is the perfect durable material for a multi-purpose bag. Even more robust, waxed canvas is able to withstand significant amounts of moisture and prodding with sharp objects (like that weird spiky gourd you swear you’re going to cook for dinner next week). Plus, this waxed canvas bag looks like a paper grocery bag, so that’s cool. If you already own a canvas tote, you can also wax it yourself.

Darling Magazine also has a great tutorial on how to make a pleather market bag, similar in shape to the one above, which uses a paper grocery bag as a pattern.

(Image credit: Food52)

Open-Ended Market Tote from Food52; $58

Have you ever purchased a bevy of bountiful blooms and walked out of the market feeling like Miss America? It probably didn’t feel as glamorous as it sounds, with eucalyptus stems stabbing you in the eye and dirty water dripping all over your new jeans. Well, this reusable open-ended Canvas Market Tote from Food52 makes that whole process a lot easier.

(Image credit: The Swag USA)

Produce Life-Extending Swag Bags from Amazon; $16

These Swag bags double as grocery bags and life-extending tools for your produce. The company’s patented technology uses three layers of fabric that, when dampened, provide just the right amount of moisture for your fridge-dwelling veggies.

(Image credit: Anthropologie)

Small Netted Product Bags from Anthropologie; $20 for 4

These small Ever Eco 4-Pack Organic Cotton Net Produce Bags from Anthropologie are great for containing your produce in separate bags (which can, then, go into your bigger reusable bags). They’re super handy to have on hand.

The key to making a good produce bag, according to the Kiwi Country Girl, is choosing a super-light fabric, since the bag will be weighed along with your produce at check out. She made hers out of cheap muslin.

Canvas Tote from the New Yorker; Free with subscription

The New Yorker is known for having some of the best original art available in print, so it’s no wonder their classic canvas totes are always on point. We love the size and shape of these free (with subscription) totes for carrying groceries, beach essentials, six-packs, balls of yarn, stack of New Yorker magazines, etc.