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Zero Waste Produce and Bulk Bin Shopping Bags

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Zero Waste Shopping Bags for Produce and Bulk Bins eliminate single-use plastic bags. This easy to follow tutorial will show you how to create adorable and useful produce and bulk bin shopping bags.

two zero waste shopping bags with blue drawstrings

I recently had a reader “slide into my DMs” on Instagram with an interesting proposal. Could I show her how to make some produce bags for her to use for zero waste shopping?

Hmm, it was a good question. I had never made drawstring bags before, but I thought I would give it a try.

And here we are.

If zero waste is your jam, check out this post on Zero Waste Food Storage on how to green your kitchen. You’ll also want to check out this post on How to Make Rice Heating Pads.

a cloth bag with foxes on it and a blue string

I used this helpful tutorial for creating these bags. Given that it is highly likely they will be washed after a few uses, I took an extra step and added a double seam to the bag to prevent fraying. I hulked up my bulk bags.

Helpful Zero Waste Shopping Bags for Produce and Bulk Bins Supply List

  1. Fabric (a given). Use whatever lightweight fabric you have hanging around. Any cotton or muslin would be great. Repurposed old cotton shirts would awesome! Don’t use anything that was used for cleaning or came into contact with chemicals. Also, don’t use old underwear. Because standards.
  2. Ribbon or small cord (like shoelaces)
  3. Sewing machine
  4. Safety pin or Bodkin <—such a fun word to say. Boooooodkin. Just say it and try not to smile. I dare you.

How to Make Zero Waste Shopping Bags for Produce and Bulk Bins!

  1. Wash and dry your fabric prior to cutting. I cut mine 16×12.
  2. Cut your fabric and press it with a hot iron. a piece of cloth on a floral ironing board
  3. Put the fabric face down on an ironing board. Fold a half-inch seam and then fold it over again. Press with the iron. I find it is easier to get a sharp fold if you spritz the seam area with some water.
    a folded piece of cloth with arrows on a floral ironing board

    Seam folded once.

    cloth with arrows on it being pressed for sewing

    Folded twice. Then press with a hot iron.

  4. Sew along the bottom of the seam.arrow fabric in a sewing machine
  5. Fold the top of the fabric, allowing for a 1-inch seam. Press. folded and sewn fabric on a floral ironing board
  6. Sew along the bottom edge to create another seam. This will make a little tunnel in the top.fabric with a large open seam on a wooden table
  7. Fold the fabric in half with the right sides together and your tunnel seam at the waste shopping
  8. Starting at the last seam you made, sew along the edges creating a pocket. Don’t start sewing at the very top. The scissors below point to where the seam along the side should start.scissors on a piece of fabric
  9. Snip the bottom corners off, being careful to not cut into the seam. Invert the bag.the bottom of a cloth shopping bag with the corners cut off
  10. Put the ribbon or cord on a safety pin or Bodkin and work it through the opening until it comes around the other side. Tie double knots at each end of the ribbon.hands threading a blue rope through fabric to make a drawstring

a cloth fabir shopping bag with blue drawstring

Boom. You’re done!

If you are planning to use these bags for produce, make sure you leave them untied at checkout so that the hardworking cashiers don’t have to open each one to see what is inside.

If using for bulk bin items, you can still attach one of the write-on twist ties with the product code onto the cords. Or note them on a scratch of paper if you’re that organized. I’m not.

If possible, weigh your empty bags after you make them to find out the tare (empty packaging) weight. If you remember to tell the cashier the pre-filled weight, they can discount that amount from your order. For reference, I weighed my bags and they were each 1.40 ounces.

At home, we use plastic garbage bags in the bathroom garbages and I usually just dump the contents into the kitchen garbage before taking it out.

“Wow, neat story Sarah,” you say. Stay with me. This is going somewhere.

I realized the other week that we were completely out of bathroom garbage bags. So when I went grocery shopping, I purposely left my cloth bags in the car and asked for plastic.

It took TEN plastic bags to haul the same amount of groceries that would fit in two to three of my cloth bags. I could not freaking believe it.

So what I am saying is ditch the plastic whenever you can. Not only does it reduce the clutter in your house and save resources, but it involves fewer trips between the car and the kitchen when unloading groceries. Saving time, money, and resources is just plain fun.

But not as fun as saying Bodkin.

zero waste shopping


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9 comments on “Zero Waste Produce and Bulk Bin Shopping Bags”

  1. My hubby wears a white tee under all of his shirts and occasionally they need to be replaced. I buy a couple of new packages and take the same number of old worn tees out of his drawer. I then lay the old ones out on the table and cut straight across from underarm to underarm. Then I cut the body in fourths for rags. What a great idea to sew them into produce bags! An iron on decal would be fun too! You should definitely stock these on Blind T Rex.

  2. I purposely don’t take my reusable grocery bags about once a month. I use the plastic bags as trash bags so I don’t have to actually BUY something just to throw it away…like garbage bags. I but a box of white kitchen bags about once every 2 years. The rest of the time it’s those pesky plastic bags from any and all stores. FREE! And free is good.

  3. I’m sure your etsy link is probably on here some where & yet I can’t find it…lol. Anyway, what I mean is can you help me find the link 😀

  4. Jeese Louise! I meant to say this IS a great idea!! Not that it isn’t! I’m sorry!! ?☺️ Leaving comments using my phone. Ehhhh..

  5. This isn’t a great a great idea. I recommend using French seams for the sides! Will definitely keep fraying in check and add a lot of strength to your seams! 🙂 you would just have to sew your sides first then make the top portion for the drawstring last.

  6. These are so easy to make and such a good idea and yet… I have never made them.
    For even more upcycling you can use a strip of t-shirt fabric for the tie part.