Bags! Bags! Bags?

Categories: Shop

Now I know what I said in my last post, I don’t like to use reusable shopping bags, I prefer bins. However on some occasions you need to use a shopping bag over a shopping bin (mainly for small shops and for stores where the shopping carts simply do not fit bags), and because of this I do have reusable bags. However, unlike bins, reusable bags come in multiple sizes, designs, and fabrics with varying quality. Because of this, I think it’s time for me to review some reusable bags as some are great while others are absolute garbage.

Compliments Brand Reusable Bags

Available at: Sobeys, Foodland, IGA for $0.99.

These reusable bags are probably my favourite for a few reasons: design, sturdiness, and packability. These bags feature a visually appealing design, close up images of fruit and a compliments logo. They come in three colours: green, orange, and blue. My favourite part about these bags are the pockets on each side, which is a great place to pack a baguette or a large bottle of juice. These bags can hold a lot of food without being overly heavy. They’re also incredibly durable, the stitching rarely fails, and the two-layer plastic like fabric exterior and non-woven PET fabric interior allows for years of use without ripping. They also wash up well in the washing machine when washed flat on the delicate cycle.

These bags feature two handles, one on each side, which are made of a plastic-base fabric. They’re fairly durable, don’t fall apart easily, and fatigue is rarely an issue. The plastic exterior layer of these bags also helps keep dirt and water from soaking into the bag and makes packing a breeze as the bags stand themselves up. Overall some pretty good bags.

Another benefit to these bags is if you buy one and it fails or rips, Sobeys will replace it free of charge. You can exchange a torn Compliments bag at the customer service desk of any Sobeys location. I have verified with Sobeys that this program is still in place so no worries if the bag fails :).

Metro/Food Basics Reusable Bags

Available at Metro locations nationwide for $0.99.
Metro’s reusable bags are made out of woven PET which is durable and flexible.
Available at Food Basics locations province-wide for $0.99.

Like the Compliments bags, I also really like the reusable bags offered by Metro. They’re durable, sturdy, and stand themselves up for easy packing. I prefer the print on the Metro version of this bag mainly for its simplicity. It’s just a red fruit of some sort with the Metro logo. It’s timeless and looks good. The Food Basics print on the other hand is kind of ugly and the people look out of place. Plus any sort of design with people on it ages poorly. Imagine a reuseable bag with some 80s hairstyles on it!

The only problem I have with these bags is that after multiple washes they can start to look… used, but this is a common problem with reusable bags. I’m also somewhat conflicted about the dual handle set up (two handles on each side: one large, one small). On one hand having two handles means that you can carry the bag easier when it’s loaded with larger objects. However, the other handle can sometimes get in the way and be a nuisance. Also I find the handles can cause fatigue.

The largest benefit to these bags are that they’re completely made out of plastic. So dirt, germs, and meat juice won’t soak into the bag, making them easy to clean. Like the Compliments bag these clean up well in the washer on the delicate cycle. Overall some good bags from Metro.

Walmart Reusable Bag

Available at Walmart locations nationwide for $1.27.

Walmart’s reusable bags are, in my opinion, adequate. Not awful but not great. They’re made out of a 100% recycled plastic-like fabric which is sturdy and durable. These bags feature two handles, one on each side, which are made out of a fabric like the rest of the bag just thicker. On the inside there’s four fabric “bands” which can be used to keep pop bottles from falling as you transport them.

Unlike the last two bags these Walmart bags can often sag when over packed. The bag itself isn’t rigid, and after a few washes is prone to no longer supporting itself which makes packing difficult. Luckily the handles on these bags rarely cause fatigue. A good thing because you can pack a lot in them.

Unfortunately since these bags are completely fabric, juices and grime can seep into the bag. It’s not a big deal but still annoying. My favourite part about these bags is the design. It’s simple and looks good (if not a bit too mega corporate-y). Overall these bags aren’t going to surprise you but they aren’t going to let you down either.

Walmart sells these bags in small, medium (pictured here), and large sizes which is useful if you prefer to carry fewer bags or want a small one for short shopping trips.

Canada Post Reusable Bag

This bag may be discontinued. It was sold at post offices nationwide.

This bag is pretty much a smaller and different looking version of the Walmart bag. They use the same type of fabric and are built to the same quality. I decided to include this bag here because I love the design. It features the same postal code design that Canada Post uses on their red mailboxes. I have one of these bags for the design alone since I love it so much. It’s a cute little bag you can pick up your mail with!

President’s Choice GREEN Reusable Bag

Small size (pictured here) has been discontinued but larger sizes are available at most Loblaw owned stores nationwide starting at $1.99 (or $1.68 at Superstore locations).

If I were to sum up these bags in two words I’d say they’re durable but annoying. The President’s Choice reusable bag is made out of a 100% recycled woven plastic fabric. These bags are incredibly strong. The woven fabric is thick, rarely rips, and the handles are stitched onto the bag well. You can easily fill these bags with heavy goods without worrying about them ripping.

However for their durability, these bags have a dark side: They’re a right pain in the ass to pack.

I can never stand these bags up for packing without having them fall over or into themselves.

I used to work at a Loblaws supermarket and I would hate having to pack people’s groceries in these bags. I found that I would often try to keep the bag upright as I loaded it up which slowed me down immensely. Compare that to customers with Metro bags. Since those bags stand themselves up I could easily pack them in half the time. It’s such a shame that these bags are a nuisance to pack because otherwise they’re great. However I find the design to be a tad bland and dated (remember when word clouds were all the rage?)

Even though I have these bags I almost never use them since I dislike them so much. What’s worse is that Loblaw discontinued the smaller version of these bags (pictured here) for the larger size which has all the same problems BUT WORSE. The larger bags also feel less sturdy since the handles aren’t placed in a good spot (too close to the centre of the bag which limits support). Oh and the design will eventually wash off making the bags look decrepit. Overall I’d go for something else.

In conclusion

Bags aren’t as good as bins but sometimes you need to use them. Stores with carts that are the traditional basket type (like you see at Walmart, Food Basics, and some No Frills locations) are usually best visited with reusable bags since bins don’t really fit in these kinds of carts. Bags are also easier to carry on the bus.

If you’re going to go down the bag route for your reusable options make sure that you take the time to wash your bags after every few trips to the store. Reusable bags can get downright nasty if you don’t clean them. Here are some tips of mine to keep your bags clean and in good condition for years to come:

  1. Wash your bags on the delicate cycle using lukewarm water
  2. Dry your bags by hanging them open, downwards. Do not use the dryer as this will either destroy or decrease the life span of your bag.
  3. Fold your bags when storing them. Often people will not fold their bags after use. This can be an issue as it causes the bags to crease which can make packing more difficult. I always try to fold my bags like they were purchased versus crushing them into a ball and putting them away.

In the end, whether it’s bags or bins, by using reusable products we help reduce waste. It’s best to use your shopping totes for as long as possible to maximize their value and minimize their environmental impact.

Until next time, I’ll be shopping.

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