We’ve compiled a range of reusable shopping bags to help you make the transition to plastic-bag-free shopping trips. There are finely-crafted leather numbers; a washable-paper option; and an affordable, foldable backup to your main shopper.
The dance of a discarded plastic bag in the wind was the inspiration for Canberra-based designer Georgina Whigham’s accessories label, George. The silhouette of George’s handwoven utility totes resembles that of a plastic shopping bag, but these bags are made from cotton, linen and bamboo-thread blends. Each bag is made in one continuous piece (with minimal waste) on a four-shaft floor loom – the entire process (including weaving and construction) takes around eight hours.
Due to the labour-intensive process, George bags are most often made to order or crafted in very small batches for stockists. One bag from the current collection measures 52 by 30 centimetres and costs $290 in-store or online via Monk House Design. Prices vary depending on the yarn used.
Broadsheet described the slouchy “Thank You!” shopper ($125) by Sydney-based designer Poppy Lissiman as one of the “it bags” of 2019. It’s modelled on the plastic bags found in Chinatown knick-knack shops. This faux-leather version in pastel pink looks and feels like leather, and the lining mimics real suede.
Stuff by Glad
Stuff By Glad is the accessory label of Adelaide designer Isabella McRae. The small-collection accessories label focuses on high-quality backpacks, tote bags, pouches and key fobs made from all-natural Tuscan leather. The current line has orange, olive, black and nude colourways.
The tote ($450) is the obvious choice for a shopping bag with its open top and sturdy leather strap. It’s also versatile enough to take on a night out after you’ve unpacked your groceries.
Paper by Kollab
Kollab’s Shopper Tote ($39.95) is made from washable, recyclable paper. The raw material is a natural fibre pulp that’s made without the use of harmful substances. As the material ages, it picks up a patina of creases. It’s available in either olive or coal and has vegan leather handles in two lengths. The bag also has an internal pocket for your phone, wallet and keys.
One caveat: When they say “washable”, it doesn’t mean you can throw it in the washing machine with a load of socks. But using a wet sponge to get rid of any grubby spots won’t damage the bag.
It’s made from light nylon, but Baggu’s Standard tote can hold 13 kilograms of shopping – that’s two to three times as many groceries as a standard single-use plastic bag.
Each bag is made up from 40 per cent recycled nylon (sourced from pre-consumer waste), and folds down into a compact 13-centimetre square pouch that you can tuck into another bag or glove compartment.
The bags (designed in California and ethically manufactured in China) come in a range of pop-art designs, but our pick is this this classic red gingham number ($12).
This article was updated on December 3, 2019. Prices may have changed since publication. Additional reporting by Nick Buckley.