Last week, I was at my local supermarket going through the checkout. The cashier was packing my items into my green bags, which I purchased at Coles a couple of years ago. When I first starting thinking about my impact on the world, I made the switch from plastic bags to the reusable green bags.

I was about to pay for my shopping, when the gentleman behind me leaned over his trolley and told me, “those green bags are worse than plastic bags“.

Now, I love grocery shopping. One of my favourite things is a fridge fully stocked with fresh fruit, veg, and dairy. And I love the green bags. So much sturdier than plastic bags, the green bags enable me to carry all my shopping from the car to the house in one fell swoop. With a single sentence, the gentleman behind me threatened to pop my love bubble for shopping and my love bubble for the bags. I was bristly and defensive. I eyed him off critically and saw no reusable bags. “So you use plastic, then? How is plastic better?” I asked him, trying to sound pleasant. He replied: “Well those green bags are made from the same material as the plastic ones. Those green bags don’t break down either.” I was about to argue that, even if that were the case, the green bags are better since they are used again – rather than going straight to landfill as plastic bags so often do. But I had paid for my shopping and decided against arguing. Instead, I thanked the gentleman and told him I would look into it. I didn’t actually plan on looking into (I was pretty sure the gentleman was a crazy anti-greenie). But as I brought my shopping into the house – far less enthusiastically than usual – I began to worry that maybe my green intentions weren’t resulting in the best outcome for the world.

Turns out the gentleman was right in that the green bags are made from polypropylene, which is recyclable but not biodegradable. I still believe that green bags sold by supermarkets are a better alternative to plastic bags, since they can be reused over many years. However, bags made from a natural material (such as cotton) are an even better alternative – particularly bags made from Fairtrade cotton, which can support both the environment and the people involved in the bags’ production.

Bag Collage

1. Tote available on Etsy / 2. Tote now out of stock / 3. Shopper now out of stock – see more on Borders & Frontiers Pinterest  / 4. Messenger Bag available on Etsy / 5. Bag available at Oxfam, similar here or in store


1. ‘I Bag Your Pardon’ Tote Bag

available on Etsy for $14.60AUD.

I love a good pun. Perhaps too cheesy on a shirt, but absolutely acceptable on a shopping bag. This seller’s store is full of p(h)un items, from shopper bags to tea-towels to underwear.

Was p(h)un too much? Sorry.

I also love these shopping bags:

Choose 2


These bags also sell for $14.60AUD.

I would definitely choose 6 (‘Lettuce eat more greens’) but I can’t decide on which I’d choose for the second bag. I think 1, 4 , and 5 are all so clever.

I can see my friend Freya with 3 (‘Giant tomatoes mean bigger pizzas’).

Which two would you get?

These puns are also available on tea-towels.

Ethical credentials: Otherwise certified (GOTS), Handmade, Made with Transparency

Image from Etsy.

2. ‘Owl You Need is Love’ Tote Bag

Another bag with a pun because, well, I love puns. Also, I love The Beatles. Owls remind me of Harry Potter. And I love Harry Potter.

Ethical credentials: Otherwise certified, Handmade

3. Borders & Frontiers Gold Pineapple Shopper 

Borders & Frontiers are an amazing label that collaborate with other talented individuals – from artists to photographers – to produce ethical bags that are also unique and stylish. I bought a bag (with the ‘H’ image from this tote) when the label first appeared on ASOS a couple of years ago, and it has stood the test of time very well. I love this graphic pineapple for grocery shopping! The current range also has some lovely cityscapes. See more of their range on the Borders & Frontiers Pinterest.

Ethical credentials: Fairtrade (cotton)

4. Fairtrade Cotton Messenger Bag available on Etsy for $7.99AUD (white) or $8.99AUD (black)

These plain cotton messenger bags also come in a tote style in plain black and white – perfect for this season’s monochrome trend. These bags are as timeless as they are on-trend; black and white goes with everything and is trans-seasonal.

Ethical credentials: Fairtrade (cotton)

5. Oxfam Big Fair Bag available at Oxfam – similar here for $14.95AUD or browse in store 

I saw this bag (which also comes in green, blue, and red) in store last week. It really is big – and sturdy; the canvas bag is fully lined against water. At $14.95, it’s an excellent price for the size… and fairly made!

Ethical credentials: Fair Trade, Made with Transparency

Have you made the switch from plastic bags to green bags?

Yours Fairly,



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