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If you’re like me, you have at least a dozen reusable tote bags in your closet. But also, if you’re like me, there’s no rhyme or reason to this hodgepodge collection – free gifts and cute impulse buys, bags that fold into tiny pouches, canvas and cotton and nylon, waterproof and flimsy … you understand . Conclusion: It’s usually a pretty chaotic scene trying to stuff everything into my bags at checkout, and I end up with perishables that are almost always damaged somewhere between the store and my kitchen.
After a few too many crushed breads and bruised tomatoes, I decided I had had enough with my old habits! I took a deep dive on Amazon for a better, smarter solution to transporting and protecting my food, and emerged on the other side with this set of four Gramercy Kitchen reusable grocery bags in my cart. Fast forward a few months, and they have totally changed my shopping experience for the better.
I chose the Gramercy bags for several reasons, starting with the rave reviews that hailed them as “the best grocery bag ever”, “easy to fold and store” and “heavier, more comfortable to carry” than similar options. But the review that intrigued me the most? “Highly recommend these bags. Well made, durable, can be cleaned fairly easily. And cashiers LOVE them.” Interesting! I had to know what was so different about those grocery bags that even the experts were attracted to.
Part box and part bag, these totes combine the best of two technologies into one genius find. They are structured with flat sides and right angles, much like a hollow cube with the top part missing. This shape makes it easy to wrap groceries in a thoughtful and deliberate way that ensures everything is secure – no wonder they’re so popular with store staff! When I fill these beauties with treats and bring them home from the market, all my stuff stays in place without the shifting that occurs with bag-like bags. (Many users also say the products stay put in the trunk of their car.) Not only can I see everything I have at a quick glance, they fit so much more than any tote I’ve ever used. Measuring 11″ deep, 12″ long, and 9.5″ wide, they can hold an unusually large volume, and their reinforced material stands up to rugged use.
The whole bag, including the bottom lining, is covered with a water-repellent (recycled) film that prevents it from getting damaged if your eggs break or your milk leaks. “I use one bag to carry six 2-liter soda bottles. That’s 4.4 pounds each for a total of 26.4 pounds,” one user comments. And let’s talk about versatile! literally used one yesterday as a carry-on in a pinch when my regular holdall couldn’t hold everything I needed for my flight, I can even see myself using it as a beach bag – the idea not having to dig my way down for sunscreen already makes me dizzy.
NYC apartments aren’t exactly known for their ample storage space, which is another reason why these grocery bags are perfect for me. They fold flat when not in use, so they barely take up my precious storage area. It’s a lot more space efficient than that mismatched tote bag that was hanging there before, trust me.
What I doesn’t expect how stylish these bags are. Mine are a deep navy blue with a chic vegan leather tag and super strong nylon handles. Walking through the airport with one on my arm yesterday felt like I was carrying something that was actually designed to be travel carry-on! They’re also available in black and dark gray, and judging by the look of the blues, you won’t go wrong whichever you choose. And get this – they’re machine washable. Some of the reviewers insisted that the bags didn’t hold their shape after coming out of the wash, but I use the gentle cycle and had no issues. When they are clean, air dry them (do not put them in the dryer). You can also spot clean with soap and water if you don’t feel like waiting for the machine to do its job.
The full set of four costs $40, and while it might seem silly at first to spend $10 a bag when you already have a “perfectly good” stack of bags, think about how much money and aggravation you will save in ruined groceries. Plus, you never know when you might need an extra piece of carry-on in the blink of an eye…