Have you ever wondered about the design of your grocery paper bag?

TL;DR

  • Product: Grocery Paper Bags
  • Problem: Grocery paper bags are often too long with excess space at the top; groceries never fill up to the top of longer paper bags.
  • Solution: Make longer bags shorter to the length of a Trader Joe’s bag, which often get filled to the top.

Since I’ve started grocery shopping in the past 5+ years, I’ve noticed that the length of grocery bags often seem unnecessarily long. In the image, I compare a Trader Joe’s bag with Jewel-Osco, Whole Foods, and Mariano’s bags. Their widths are the same (egg carton width), however, the latter three are slightly longer. Have you tried to fill the longer bags with groceries to the top? Probably not. If you have, you would have noticed that the bag handles felt like they would break –or did break.

On the other hand, the TJ’s bag is almost the perfect length. I have filled it to the brim multiple times and have always been confident of its strength… which leads me to the next part of paper bag design.

Material. The TJ’s bag wins in terms of durability. It’s made by O.Dixon, with “at least 40%” post-consumer recycled paper; whereas the other three bags are made by Durobag with 100% post-consumer recycled paper. Definitely a win on the 100% post-consumer recycled paper, but there is room for improvement on making the paper stiffer and sturdier. At the least, make the Durobags shorter and use the extra length to strengthen the handles.


Chrissy is a tiny bit obsessed with the design of everyday products and how to improve them. To read more product design improvements for receipts, email, and iPhone apps, head over to chrissyha.com or follow her @chrissyyha