In college, I took a seminar course on environmental studies. In addition to the overall theoretical education, a fair amount of practical advice was provided as well. One key point that always stuck with me was that we should reuse bags when we shop instead of carrying stuff home in the store provided bags only to thrown them away after they are unpacked.
The specific recommendation from the course was to use one bigger cloth bag, like a small laundry bag, for transport. I've tried this a few times and it never really worked out. The volume was simply too big for the job at hand. The bag could get too heavy very quickly and without some ability to separate things, it was inevitable that a 2 liter bottle would crush any loafs of bread.
I heard about these folks a few months back and was excited to check them out. They sell a wide variety of bags for reuse. Most of them have various designs and images on them, but they also have a plain back one as well, the ACME Bags - Workhorse Style 1500.
The base price is about $8 per, but if you get 4 or more that price drops to $7 per. Also, the have a buy 3 get one free special right now. The price is a little higher than I really like. Especially when I've seen some similar type bags for sale in grocery stores for just a few dollars each. What sold me on the ACME bags was the fact that they were a little bigger and didn't have logos all over them.
Since I plan on having these for a long time, I'm willing to pay a premium to not have company logos and slogans on them. Originally, I got 4 bags, but I'm happy to report that after using them for a little while, I'm getting four more.
Each bag holds probably twice as much as a standard plastic shopping bag. I know they will hold four 2-liter soda bottles easily. I don't necessarily recommend having them packed like that. The bag doesn't have a problem with the weight, but it's a bit heavy leaning over to pull them out of the car.
I'm pretty sure that I'm currently one of a very few people using these type bags in my area. Every time I had them to a bagger and explain I want to use them in lieu of their standard ones, the have that look like they aren't really sure what's going on. It still takes me some getting used to as well. I've taken to always throwing them back in my car when I unpack them so they are always there. Much easier for me than trying to remember to grab them before I make a run to the store.
I hope that other folks who see me using these bags decided to get a set for themselves. I encourage everyone do to the same. To add one more note about the cost, the good feeling that I get every time I use them makes the price seem even more reasonable.
Update: November 2021
The site is no longer alive, but getting reusable bags is no longer a fringe thing.
I never bought the second set of four bag, but the first four are still going strong.