Where can I find the "recycled bag" fabric used by grocery stores?
August 27, 2008 8:58 AM   Subscribe

Where can I find the fabric/material several grocery chains are using to make cheap reusable bags these days? Is it as cheap as it appears?

Several grocery store chains in this area have been offering reusable shopping bags for 99 cents or less. The material used is recycled plastics and ranges from very plasticy (example) to somewhat woven fabric-like (example).

I'd like to de-beige the walls of my work cube on the cheap, but haven't been able to find anywhere to buy the material in bulk, and am unsure of what the proper search terms are. Assuming I can find it in bulk, will it be as cheap as it seems to be? Or are the stores getting some sort of massive volume discount? I'm willing to just wait for a design I like and buy 10 bags and cut them up, but I imagine starting with bolts of fabric will be easier/look better.
posted by mikepop to Home & Garden (7 answers total)
Best answer: I don't know about buying it as a fabric, but the fabric (at least of the ones I've seen) is commonly called poly non-woven, if that helps with the search.
posted by clerestory at 9:06 AM on August 27, 2008

Best answer: Fabric is subject to bulk discounts that rival staple foods. That is, there is a huge difference in price between what the individual consumer will pay for a yard and what a manufacturer of reusable grocery bags will pay. So, it is unlikely that you will be able to buy the fabric for as cheap as you are imagining.

Still, if you are crafty you can find plenty of fabric for less than a dollar a yard. Oilcloth, poly-cotton broadcloth and muslin can all be found cheap, and even cheaper if you buy it from a local fabric store with at 40% off coupon. Oilcloth is the same stuff that picnic blankets are made from and come in a variety of colors and patterns. Broadcloth is available in a large number of solid colors. Muslins are not typically dyed, but you can do that yourself and add a funky tie-dye effect. All of these will be at the average fabric store, and all will last longer and tear less than the fabric you described.

In fact, I've never seen that type of fabric for sale at a fabric store. It's possible that it's out there, but it might be too fragile to sell off the bolt.
posted by Alison at 9:46 AM on August 27, 2008

Best answer: pretty sure the fabric-like ones are made of non-woven polypropylene!
posted by lia at 9:47 AM on August 27, 2008

Best answer: I'd like to de-beige the walls of my work cube on the cheap

Wal-mart has many fabric choices at $1 per yard.

I'm willing to just wait for a design I like and buy 10 bags and cut them up

In case you don´t know, most large fabric stores have hundreds of fabric choices available for about $3 or $4 per yard (that would be a yard long and about 44¨ wide). Oh, and that´s before the 40% off coupon -- get that by signing up for the mailing list.

Yes, I realize this wasn´t your actual question. Someone do tell if they have a cheap source for this stuff. Yes, the makers of these bags (I´m sure the stores contract it out) are getting a massive volume discount when they buy hundreds of thousands of these things, and you will never be able to get the fabric as cheaply as they do.
posted by yohko at 10:09 AM on August 27, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks all for the proper material names and other suggestions! I didn't realize other fabric could be so cheap, so I will venture off to a fabric store and take a look.
posted by mikepop at 10:18 AM on August 27, 2008

I am not sure what kind of selection a traditional fabric store will have of non-wovens, but one easy way to get a large sheet would be to buy a non-woven drop cloth (for painting) at your local Home Depot or paint store.
posted by caddis at 10:25 AM on August 27, 2008

Everybody I know who sews has lots of spare fabric. Post to Craigslist/Free or freecycle.com for fabric, and you might get something gorgeous for free.
posted by theora55 at 3:38 PM on August 27, 2008

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