The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish
July 17, 2009

Joey Totes Reusable Bags

Almost two years ago, I published the rant, “Be Careful On the Reusable Bags Bandwagon” in which I slammed people who ran out and bought brand new reusable bags instead of reusing the disposable plastic bags they already had on hand.

While I still believe that it’s generally more sustainable to make use of what we have before buying new “green” products, I’m much less judgmental these days and recognize that some new products can truly help us get where we need to go. So many well-intentioned people have told me stories about leaving their reusable bags at home, or in the car. And in fact, I myself have gotten into the habit of carrying a little ChicoBag in my purse wherever I go, “just in case.”

So now there’s a new compressible bag in town that, like ChicoBags, comes with its own attached stuff sack. (I realize there are other bags with separate stuff sacks, but honestly, I don’t bother to promote those because I have a feeling most of those sacks get lost eventually.)

Joey Totes.

Joey Totes come in two sizes — Regular Joey and Big Joey.

Both sizes come with their own attached stuff sack.

But one thing that differentiates them from ChicoBags is that each sack is big enough to hold more than one Joey Tote. The large size will hold one Big Joey and two Regular Joeys. The regular size can hold itself and one other Regular Joey. Just stuff them all in.

Joey Totes are made from rip-stop nylon and can hold up to 40 pounds each. Each bag is sewn from one piece of fabric, which makes them stronger than the typical T-shirt style bag that consists of two pieces sewn together.

Joey Totes are also machine washable. And yes, you should wash them. The plastic bag industry has recently jumped on the fact that reusable bags can breed dangerous bacteria, unlike disposable bags. My response: so can our clothes if we don’t wash them. But you don’t see most of us wearing disposable plastic clothing. Why should our bags be any different?

So, Joey Totes are a great idea as long as you use them! Keep them in your purse, backpack, or briefcase all the time so that you’re never caught without a bag.

To win this set of 3 Joey Totes, please leave a comment with your name, email address, and one reason to stop using disposable bags. I’ll choose the winner at random next week.

73 Responses to “Joey Totes Reusable Bags”

  1. Reusable Bags says:

    Great looking bag. Nice to see more and more people converting to reusable bags. There still are so many people that have not started using these. One at a time…

  2. Stephanie says:

    I love small compact reusable bags and I just wanted to comment that although you mentioned that you don't like the ones that come with a separate pouch, I actually have a set of the Envirosax (my set is this one: that do and the pouch is really a lifesaver for me because we do a large grocery shop and I need 5 bags in order to fit everything in, so carrying the pouch with me into the store, buying the groceries, and when I'm done unpacking at home I put them right back into the pouch and the pouch into my car so it's ready for the next grocery trip in a few weeks. This has helped me to never forget the bags… more of a routine than anything.

    I can see how these joeybags would work well for someone who just wants one for their purse as well – nice product! I could also see myself using these joeybags for camping and swimming trips as well. Thanks!

  3. Lisa S. says:

    Disposable plastic bags can easily take over your house if you don't recycle them! I bought a handmade cloth purse from etsy with the sole purpose of tossing in those simple purchases without getting a sposie in return. A joey would be awesome to keep in my purse for the larger purchases.

    lisasharp123 @ hotmail

  4. Anonymous says:

    Reusable bags make our world greener and cleaner, makes us breath freshener, smile wider, life healthier ,live longer. Everybody happier.

  5. Justine says:

    Plastic bags are a horrible waste of resources. Plus, they have a tendency to multiply…before you know it, they are taking over your closet! Lets simplify life and just stick with reusable bags :)


    Thanks Beth!

  6. Anonymous says:

    I stumbled upon your blog and love it. Great info and giveaways!

    Society in general needs to get back to basics and stop being so wasteful and disposable. Why not start with reusable bags that fit in your briefcase or purse that can be used for everything not just groceries?

    rafteryb5 at centurytel dot net

  7. Cheap Like Me says:

    The clutter demons LOVE plastic bags. In just a few days, they can spawn many more plastic bags when left to their own devices in the dark space under the sink. But reusable bags are much better at population control.

    The bags look great!

    Cheap Like Me
    cheaplikeme [at] gmail dot com

  8. Anonymous says:

    Hope I'm not too late for Joey bags … or too far away.

    Degradable plastic bags don't.
    Which makes reusable bags much, much better.


  9. bpod says:

    I also use cloth grocery bags when going on a planned shopping trip, but I like the idea of carrying a "just in case" bag that's so compact and light. Thanks for the give-away opportunity!



  10. Anonymous says:

    Oksoimnotperfect (at) yahoo (dot) ca

    Re-useable bags, are designed to be washed an reused… unlike plastic ones that just fall apart when you try to re-use them.

  11. Leigh says:

    I really like the looks of these bags. I've been making my own out of old sheets, but they sometimes tear. My #1 reason to not use disposable bags is that it is so easy not to. All it takes is a little mindfulness. (leighadactyl at gmail dot com)

  12. seoulless says:

    I used to think "hey, I can just use these plastic bags for rubbish at home"!. But then they slowly accumulated. I was getting more bags than I was using. Soon they fell out in piles and I couldn't open the pantry without plastic bags falling on me. Reusable bags make this pile shrink until it disappears and I find a better way to dispose of my trash! Everybody wins! (especially the environment.)

    ninja.hampster at gmail dot com

  13. TMC says:

    Using reusable bags helps make me more mindful of what I'm buying. I won't buy more than what I can fit in the bags that I've brought.

  14. Billie says:

    Wow! this is great timing – assuming I win. I just discovered that one of my reusable bags is growing a hole.

    Why you shouldn't use reusable bags – If you don't bring home the disposable plastic bags, they don't breed in your closet causing them to overflow into every aspect of your life.

    I was always positive that the bags 'breed' in the closet because that was clearly the only excuse that I could find for why they always seemed to multiply.

  15. 15% says:

    My boyfriend is a butcher and he's always bringing home that "one thing" we needed from the store, and especially since it's never a huge load of stuff, it would normally be a great chance to start introducing reusable bags (a concept that I fell in love with while visiting Europe) into our house.

    He's open to the idea, but the ones they sell at the store (and the few I brought home from Europe) are all made out of that fakey cloth, and his hands are a little rough from work and get all kinds of caught on them, so he hates them and won't use them.

    They also either aren't collapsible or don't have an attached stuff sack.

    So I'd use the bag to help my well meaning but eco-clueless (I say that as lovingly as possible) boyfriend do something he knows I'd be proud of.

    15PercentGratuity (at gmail)

  16. Anonymous says:

    would love to enter the drawing for the joey bags. i'd stash one in my bike bag and the other in my husband's car so he'd have no more excuses for the plastic he brings home.

    glad to read i'm not the only cringe-er over plastic bags. i recently had a shudder-cringe attack in public when the bagger put a meat purchase into a plastic bag even tho all my reusable bags were in plain sight at his fingertips. i'm quite certain my shuddering-cringe-gasp-reaction made an impression! he scrambled to un-bag the meat and then proceeded to throw the "contaminated" bag in the trash! i tell you, you can't fall asleep on this job for a second!

    we are going to "convenience" ourselves right into a dead planet…


  17. Dani says:

    Just one more little way plastic bags make life on this planet less wonderful:

    The other day I was driving with my windows down and noticed a nasty smell, like burning rubber. When the smell didn't go away, I figured it must be my tires. The next day, I took it to the tire shop. The guy took one look at my car and told me my tires weren't the problem; a plastic bag had melted onto my exhaust pipe! Nothing can be done, and my car is going to stink for a long, long time…

    Danielle snackitems at

  18. Lara S. says:

    I'd love to have those bags because I only have a few old cotton bags. They're too small and the handle is too small. They use to come with shoes when I was little.
    Here in Argentina the only reusable shopping bags I've ever seen are big, thick plastic ones, extremely colorful and UGLY!! Kind of like this: … only uglier!

    Anyway, I think shipping the bags to Argentina would be quite ridiculous :)

  19. biancasimone says:

    Reusable bags are great because they're always conversation starters! I have one reusable bag that I got from my job (YAY!) and people ask me about it all the time. I also have one that I got that says "Love This Planet" and people want to know where I got it from!

    Also, here's something to think about: reusable bags are great, but why are we still using the little plastic baggies for our produce? I've caught myself doing it so many times. I need to start packing paper sacks into my reusable bags for the produce!!!

    bianca dot simone at gmail dot com

  20. Marcie Kahler-Davis says:

    I would love a Joey Tote! I have a similar style bag by Envirsax and I use it a LOT.
    These are just as awesome and you can truly never have enough bags!!

  21. Erica says:

    I have some Chico bags and I constantly say how much I love them. The attached stowing bag is the bast. I have 2 in my purse and I have a *very little* purse, they smoosh up so great.

  22. Village Green says:

    Disposable bags feed into the "convenience" lifestyle that we've been sold for decades. Come in and shop — you don't have to be prepared for shopping. You don't need to think about what to buy — just buy on impulse and we'll stick it into a plastic bag or three or more.

  23. Alex Booker says:

    One major reason to stop using disposable bags is we all know that when a person uses reusable bags, they are 10x cooler :).


    booker53 at gmail dot com

  24. MaryLinda says:

    These Joey bags look even better than what I have been using! For about two years I have been carrying, and using, reusable bags in my car. The bags I have are not as compact, but some are insulated, which is better for the refrigerator and freezer items than other bags. Since I force myself to go back to the car when I forget to take the bags into a store, carrying them in my car has been a good solution for me. Recently I received a free bag that has it's own zipper case, and I carry that in the storage trunk of my scooter, so I have one there too. :-) Therefore I do not need these Joey bags, but thanks for the opportunity to share what I am doing with my reusable bags!

  25. Fake Plastic Fish says:

    @EJ — "Personal change doesn’t equal social change."

    Where does social change come from? How does it begin? From nothing? Out of thin air? Please explain.

    No one is saying these small personal acts are all we have to do. But where does the will for social change come from if not from initial changes within individuals?

    I believe you are missing the point.

  26. Tammy B says:

    i'm an old hat at reusable bags, but there ARE times when an impromptu shopping opportunity comes up and i'm left holding the bag, so to speak. i cringe and feel pretty hypocritical – unless i get a really cool paper bag – thus i need the joey bag! i think i could fit that into evn the smalledst of my handbags (my usual downfall). as for the plastic leftovers, they are at least used, usually passing on things (clothing, produce, etc) to friends and neighbors who don't actually USE reusable bags, but WILL use the plastic ones repeatedly. strange.

  27. sally says:

    Since coming home from India, i'm always on my parents to take their reusable grocery sacks INTO the grocery store, instead of leaving them in the car, or in the pantry, or where ever cloth bags tend to get left. And yet, the last time i went grocery shopping for my parents, lo and behold, i left the whole lot of bags in the car. ::facepalm:: but! I happened to have a chico bag in my purse, plus another cloth bag that fits in its own sack, so between the two of those, i didn't need any disposable bags.


  28. debe says:

    I really hate it when a plastic bag "tumbleweed" blows into my drive gear and pedals, becomes wrapped in my chain while still stuck on my pedals catching my foot so it becomes difficult to extract from the clip when I need to escape from and regain control of my bike as it crashes with my baby trailer behind…on a busy roadway, of course.
    Debe at

  29. Greenjoycie says:

    I would love one of these bags because, as my children say, "I look like a nerd" with one of those reusable bags attached to my purse handle. One that would be little and scrunch up INTO my purse would be great.

  30. ratty says:

    too, Too, TOO much trash! best reason ever to use reusable bags :)

  31. SariJ says:

    It takes a lot of water to make plastic bags. They do not last long even if you reuse them. Oh and it takes years in our landfills to breakdown.
    No more plastic bags please!

  32. Beth says:

    Because there was never any good reason *to* use plastic bags.

    edesombr [at] wellesley [dot] edu

  33. Piegirl says:

    Love that Joey Totes are washable! Thanks for sharing.

    Please tweet me if I win the drawing.

  34. cat147 says:

    reusable: because it just makes so much more freakin' sense.

    do we really NEED to have a thin, crappy plastic bag for every purchase we make? ugh.

    great giveaway beth!

    christie.arlotta (at) gmail (dot) com

  35. menelik says:

    Hey mate!! so… what does a brother gotta do to get some totes?!? Big up and holla if I win, he he!

  36. Anonymous says:

    Upping the Stakes
    Forget Shorter Showers

    Why personal change does not equal political change
    by Derrick Jensen

    WOULD ANY SANE PERSON think dumpster diving would have stopped Hitler, or that composting would have ended slavery or brought about the eight-hour workday, or that chopping wood and carrying water would have gotten people out of Tsarist prisons, or that dancing naked around a fire would have helped put in place the Voting Rights Act of 1957 or the Civil Rights Act of 1964? Then why now, with all the world at stake, do so many people retreat into these entirely personal “solutions”?

    I want to be clear. I’m not saying we shouldn’t live simply. I live reasonably simply myself, but I don’t pretend that not buying much (or not driving much, or not having kids) is a powerful political act, or that it’s deeply revolutionary. It’s not. Personal change doesn’t equal social change.

    Read the rest here:

  37. Jenni says:

    Please stop bringing plastic bags down to the beach, to the park, to the lake. They tend to blow away, horrible for birds, etc.! Thx for the opportunity, Beth!

  38. Lisa Sharp says:

    I would love to win these Beth because I want to keep some bags with me that I can just give to people if they comment on my bags. Like once I had a check out lady say "Wow you have a lot of bags, I only have a couple." If I won these and that happened I would just give her one. :)

  39. Madeline says:

    Plastic bags aren't that strong, so I prefer reusable bags because they can carry heavier items.

    madeline.burchard [at] gmail dot com.

  40. Reece says:

    Way too much energy used for a plastic bag to be used one time. All those plastic bags in landfills can be prevented. I cringe every time, I see plastic bags on the side of roads, in water, or stuck in a bush/tree. I want to yell " wake up people".

  41. Heather says:

    I've been enjoying your newsletters immensely! Keep up the good work and research.

    By the way, love the idea one of your commentor's made about making bags out of tank tops/t-shirts. Fabulous idea!

  42. Martin says:

    These look like pretty good bags.

    I am stocked up with the locally made reusable bags. I have found out that the stitching that holds the handles on is not going to last 1000 trips. I would never consider putting anything close to 40 lbs of groceries in them either. I usually load up with about 12 pounds per arm. I have seen a few canvas bags mixed in with the used clothing and I might buy one if there is enough congruence or irony in the logo.

  43. felicia says:

    Plastics bags just don't make sense anymore now that there are other options. I still want to make my own reusable bags out of T-shirts where you sew the bottom of the t-shirt and cut the neck and arms off to leave tank top like handles….just haven't gotten around to it.

    mikeandfel at hotmail dot com

  44. Pure Mothers says:

    I love these bags. I like that they pack into itself. I have some Envirosax bags that roll up and they have an attached snap to secure them.

    Disposable bags suck. Turtles choke on them.

    I want to win these bags for my husband. I have a set of Envirosax mentioned above. But when I send my husband out he always forgets to grab the reusable bags in our foyer and returns with plastic. (Which, I of course, reuse for cat litter). I want to stash these in his car and laptop bag!

  45. Carla says:

    I would love these bags, I often forget mine in the car,bike, etc. and refuse to get one so I end up carrying random items in my pockets or by hand – not practical.
    Why use reusable bags? It is easy! And, it is like a 'gateway drug' to the reduce-repair-reuse-recycle-do without lifestyle.

    (will send you my email directly)

  46. knutty knitter says:

    Plastic shopping bags are no longer an issue here but plastic bread bags!!!!! Ubiquitous and unfortunately unavoidable even in the organic shop.

    viv in nz

  47. Anonymous says:

    A great giveaway! I think the most important reason to stop using disposable bags is because we need to get away from the whole culture of disposable items and move towards a habit of reusing, repairing, and repurposing.

    – Rachel
    fakeplasticfish "at"

  48. Lifestooshort says:

    plastic bags stay in the landfill forever! not cool, reusable=cool :)

    lavery328 at yahoo dot com

  49. just ducky says:

    Because all of the cool kids are doing it. And you want to be cool, don't you?


    mayr dot conni at mayo dot edu

  50. Anonymous says:

    I always try to take my reusable bags when I go shopping. I would love the small bags so I can put them in my purse.

  51. Sheila says:

    I use my own bags but like that this bag comes with its own bag…AND I can put it in my purse so I won't forget it!

  52. Debbie says:

    There is this gorgeous tree that I can see from my apartment's front window, but every fall when it loses it's leaves there is at least one ugly plastic bag stuck in it. So my good reason not to use plastic bags is so yours doesn't get stuck in my beautiful tree that I have to look at all winter long. Because it's all about me you know.

    (debbie at pobox dot com)

  53. Nina says:

    I use my reusable bags everywhere. To that end, I have few plastic bags for my trash. Most weeks I use a bread or berry bag for my trash.

    Would love to win the Joey sacks. I do like the fact that they can be washed. My old Trader Joe bags can't be washed.

  54. Mark says:

    Since I've been riding the fake plastic fish wave- I've been carrying 2 net style tote bags in my everyday bag. Always handy for trips to the grocery store after work or when I'm out.
    Don't need the Joey bags- but wanted to let you know I'm reading-

  55. Cindy says:

    I love going to the desert, but it seems even out in the wilderness, you can find old plastic bags hung up in the bushes and stuff, blown there from who knows where. That makes me sad.

    I like the idea of a good sized bag I can keep handy in my purse.


  56. Harper says:

    Reusable bags can hold more so I don't have to take more than one trip up the two flights of stairs to my apartment.
    I love attached pouch of the Joey bags. Much easier to carry an empty bag with you if it is contained.

  57. Amber says:

    I love that re-usable bags hold so much more than regular plastic bags do. I'm shopping for a family, and being able to fit a week's worth of groceries in a few bags is a big plus for me.

    My email is amber[at]strocel[dot]com

  58. livingmyrichlife says:

    I'm an Aussie (living in the US) so would love a Joey tote! Anything to remind me of home…. :)

    Disposable plastic bags make me cringe, but I love the photo with 'I'm a reusable bag'. Great idea.

  59. Tameson says:

    I have a reusable grocery bag that has been in continuous use – like every week's grocery trip since 1987. That said I often forget to take my own bags to other stores like goodwill and the hardware store. This bag would be the perfect thing to stash in my pocketbook for just such occasions. And even if I don't win I'll likely pick up a couple, 'cause I'm really impressed with the stowability factor.

  60. ruchi says:

    Um, the disposable plastic clothing cracked me up. I kind of want to do an art performance piece in disposable plastic clothing now.

    Also, I have to share something that has been making me so happy all day:

    According to the Guardian, UK consumers have halved their consumption of plastic bags in the past two years. The government hasn't imposed any fines or banned bags. Instead, plastic bag use has dropped through sheer consumer awareness and motivation.

    Now I don't know about you, but I read depressing numbers and stories about climate change daily. But this … it proved to me that together we can make an impact. That something as small as bringing your own bags can result in 400 million saved plastic bags when you look at the collective impact.

    I find that damn empowering.

    So I think people should bring their own bags. Because our individual actions can make a real difference. Because it's empowering to feel like you're actually DOING something. And because … we CAN.

  61. Coccinelle says:

    A good reason to me is that it's really easy!

    Unlike other sources of plastic, reducing the use of plastic bags is really easy!

    my email is coccinelle@michelf.NOSPAMcom

  62. KDavid says:

    Same as Morgan's idea:
    Plastic bags are "flyaway" and are constantly escaping from garbage trucks, car windows, etc. And they are so pervasive now, it is hard to find a roadside field, stream, lake, etc, that has not been despoiled by these never-go-away scourges.

  63. Carly says:

    These look so handy.

    I had a plastic bag run-in today while grabbing lunch at my local family-owned grocery. They are such a great source for produce grown on nearby farms, but they still think I'm crazy when I ask for no bag for whatever my one or two item lunchtime purchase is. Usually I have to take my items out of the bag and request they save the bag for the next person. This is usually met with eye-roll and sigh. But the worst part is they then want to put neon orange "paid" stickers on all of my items. Today that meant my aluminum salad bar container and my nectarine both got stickers. I understand the reasoning behind this, but I can't believe theft is enough of an issue for them to waste all that plastic (and money) on stickers. Plus, hey leave gross sticky film on my fruit. Anyway, I keep meaning to bring this up to their manager or owner, but always forget. Now I am inspired though… I think I'll write a letter.

    Keep up the good work!

  64. monkeyjen says:

    Why You Should Not Use Disposable Bags: A Haiku

    Plastic bag dances
    In 'American Beauty'
    Not so beautiful

  65. Robj98168 says:

    Dick Cheney is known to carry his guns in a plastic bag. So don't be a Dick- use a reusable tote.

    Sorry all I could think of,

  66. N.E.A.T. says:

    I have bags that I keep in the truck of my car, but to have something compact for the unplanned stops along the bike trail is a great idea. Lead by example and walk the walk. Thanks Beth!


  67. kimberly says:

    My dad always insisted that just because we "can" use something doesn't mean that we "should". That's the thing – we think we should use disposables just because they're there, we have access to them and they're cheap. But that's not a good reason at all. The less the better!

  68. lindall says:

    i love the idea of a tote that packs into itself! i have a chico-style bag and i lost it's sack pretty quickly! i still carry it in my bus riding bag, though! as for why – just say no to land fill fodder!

  69. Barb in FL says:

    We've started trying to make an effort to carry reusable bags with us to the supermarket and Whole Foods. I still see too many plastic bags used at the supermarket for groceries!

  70. Fresh and Feisty says:

    In relation to yesterday's post…reusable bags help with organization. If you're like me, any of the plastic bags that do end up in my home are stored and reused as much as possible. The more reusable bags you have, the less disposable ones you need to worry about. I just store the about 10 or so reusable bags inside one of the bags in the laundry closet or in the car.
    wasabijones at gmail dot com

  71. Morgan says:


    Some local kids spent an hour in some woods less than a city-block wide, and didn't venture more than 10 metres from the road–they got three gigantic garbage bags full of nothing but plastic bags. That seems like a good reason to not use them to me.

  72. The Green Cat says:

    These are great Beth. I don't need any more bags but I wanted to comment and say I'm LMAO @ Radical Garbage Man's comment

  73. Radical Garbage Man says:

    Disposable bags make the baby Jesus cry, plus, he can get his head caught in them and suffocate.

    Can haz bag?