Country Lore: How to Make Reusable Produce Bags

This reader is so opposed to using use disposable plastic bags for fruits and vegetables she figured out how to make reusable produce bags from cloth.

| June/July 2009

reusable produce bag - diagram steps 4, 5, 6

Steps 4, 5, and 6 for making a reusable produce bag.


Over two years ago, I purchased reusable and washable canvas bags for packing all my purchases at the grocery store. This eliminated my consumption of plastic grocery bags. Unfortunately, I still had to bag fresh fruits and vegetables in the plastic bags provided in the produce section.

To eliminate that need, I made reusable produce bags from cloth. The bags need to be transparent so the cashier can read the produce label, lightweight because produce is usually weighed, and washable and sturdy enough for multiple uses. I used sheer curtain fabric for its transparent and lightweight properties. Alternative materials could be tulle, hosiery, or nylon netting.

These bags are suited for storing most fruits and vegetables, but the mesh bag is unable to retain the moisture needed to keep lettuce from wilting.

I’ve found the cloth bags to be excellent alternatives to plastic, and hopefully shoppers will reduce more of their waste stream with similar reusable packaging.

Heidi Warren
Dover, OH 

Construction Instructions:

The cloth produce bag can be made from sheer curtain fabric, tulle, nylon netting, or hosiery material. A rectangular section of fabric is cut and then folded in the middle.  Start with a rectangular piece 12" wide by 24" long before folding.

trent mcglasson
2/9/2012 3:06:44 PM

My wife saw a woman who was using her old dry dog and cat food bags to carry groceries. She had obviously washed them out but had also resewn them to incorporate handles. She said they looked rally neat.

john & virginia ledoux
2/8/2012 10:47:00 PM


6/16/2011 5:27:25 AM

i want to start the manufacturing of alternative product of plastic covers,what is the procedure of start the manufacturing and how to get investment part any government help

7/11/2009 9:20:10 PM

I love this idea! I'm always looking for something to do with my extra fabric and to be a little more environmentally friendly! This is a great way to reuse that fabric now! Thanks so much!

6/19/2009 12:45:59 PM

I have sewed up lunch bags for my teenage son using scraps from other sewing projects. They have become very popular and I have sewen many for his friends too. I used some lightweight muslin to use when I purchase vegs and fruit at the grocery store and at the local farmers market.

6/17/2009 7:09:43 PM

I love that we've all finally figured out that with a little ingenuity, we can make pretty much anything that we need without having to buy it in a store! The majority of the time, our sweat equity results in a far nicer final product that is better quality and longer lasting. Plus, with this home made produce bag tutorial, you really don't have to have wickedly fantastic sewing skills to pull it off. On a similar vein, if you like the idea of making your own reusable sandwich wrappers and snack bags (so that you never have to buy another plastic version again), I saw a helpful article all about it on www.greenwala -- the online green social network. Here's the link if anyone wants to take a look:

cher gomez_2
6/16/2009 5:33:46 PM

The diagram for making the bags is WAY TOO SMALL. I can not even enlarge them on my computer big enough for me to read.

6/7/2009 4:28:33 AM

This is an excellent idea, which has been going around the web for some time, but I have to disagree with your material suggestions. Nylon is NOT good for the environment, and such bags can easily be made from natural materials and/or old fabric found at home/in a secondhand shop. Produce like lettuce can simply be placed in an airtight container when you return home, and I'm sure the shop assistants won't mind taking a peep inside the bag to see what it contains. I made my own produce bags using an old burlap bag, but any lightweight material you find in your home could also be used. For photos and instructions:

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