Are reusable grocery bags built to last?

Plastic bags, wrap and paper bags account for more than 4 million tons of waste per year.

You can take a reusable bag to the grocery store, or you can buy a reusable bag at most stores for about $1, but most people don't.

/*Consumer Reports*/ took at reusable bags to see if they could stand the test of time.

Testers evaluated eight bags from stores around the country, including /*Target*/, /*Wal-Mart*/ and /*Trader Joe's*/.

First, testers measured the capacity of each bag. It turned out that all of the bags could hold much more than a plastic bag. But experts warned that may not be a total benefit.

"You may not want the biggest bag, because if you fill a big bag with heavy groceries like canned goods or gallons of milk, it'll be too heavy to carry into your car or to your house," said Tara Casaregola, Consumer Reports.

A leak test proved a challenge as well. Testers poured one tablespoon of milk into each bag. The bag from Wal-Mart leaked like a sieve. Another bag didn't leak, but it absorbed the liquid in its lining, which makes it hard to clean. Other bags didn't leak, and spills could be wiped up.

Bag testers also evaluated strength. After loading the bags up with 28 pounds of flour sacks and canned tomatoes, they topped off each with a 2-pound weight. A mechanical arm lifted every bag up and down 500 times. All the bags held up, with no torn seams or broken straps.

It seems $1 can go a long way toward keeping plenty of waste out of landfills.



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