This is an honest review of a product I was offered for free, with no restrictions on what I could say in the review. I did not receive any compensation other than this tote bag shipped internationally to my home, and I have no other connection to this company.
Hello Sunday is an Australian business selling things that would make nice gifts–or you might just get them for yourself–made mostly from natural materials, with an emphasis on ethical working conditions. When they contacted me about reviewing a product, my first thought was, “I don’t need any useless gifty stuff!”–but looking at their online catalogue, I found that they offer many styles of sturdy tote bags, which are not useless at all!
Here’s my guide to using cloth tote bags for grocery shopping. My family has at least a dozen such bags at all times because we also use them for carrying stuff on outings, bringing books to and from the library, organizing things we’ll use in the car during long trips, and so forth. We’ve gotten a lot of free tote bags in recent years, but some of those are very cheaply made and don’t last long, and many of them can’t take the full weight that I’m able to carry on my shoulder. How does the Hello Sunday Large Shopping Tote compare?
My first impression was that this is indeed a large bag, with plenty of room for the sorts of things I want to carry: It’s almost 19 inches wide, almost 16 inches tall, and more than 6 inches across the bottom. The 100% organic cotton fabric is sturdy canvas. All the stitching feels very secure, with double seams all around. The straps are more than an inch wide, to support a heavy load without cutting into your shoulder. The loop, which is made from cotton rope, is not just tacked on–the end is doubled over and sewn in two places. The button is just a wooden disc sewn on in an ordinary way and might pull off if you put a lot of strain on it, but it seems adequate.
Also, the pattern and colors are just lovely! I wanted to start using this bag immediately, but first I studied its special folding instructions.
This is a bit complicated, so I might not have been able to figure out on my own what the loop and button are for; I appreciate the instructions! I needed to fold the bag smaller than it had been folded for shipping. Soon I had a neat little packet, suitable for stashing in my car’s glove compartment for those times when I spontaneously need another bag!
But I haven’t tucked it away yet because I’ve been eager to use my pretty new bag for all my toting needs. I happened to receive it the day before taking my kids swimming at Raccoon Creek State Park. This outing was a great opportunity to finish off some of the open packages of crunchy snacks that were cluttering our kitchen! I also brought ice water in reusable bottles, cantaloupe wedges in a reused yogurt bucket, and sandwiches in a reused plastic bag.
Everything fit handily into the bag, but once it was so full of slippery packages, it was kind of trying to fall open. The slightly rough texture of the canvas straps helped them to stay on my shoulder. Still, I was thinking it’s a shame the button is attached to the same side of the bag as the loop; if it were on the other side, I could put the loop over the button to hold the bag closed….
Then I realized I could put the strap on the far side of the bag through the loop, and that would hold the bag closed!
This works really well, keeping the bag from spilling even when it’s full of slippery, unstable things!
We were at Raccoon Creek late on a Tuesday afternoon with a forecast of evening thunderstorms. It was a nice, quiet time at the beach. If you’re looking for a swimming beach in southwestern Pennsylvania, this is a lovely one with changing rooms, sand to play in, and no admission charge!
Since then, I’ve used my Hello Sunday tote bag for a couple of grocery-shopping trips. It easily holds an amount that I can carry comfortably. The straps are the right length to keep the load above my hip bone without putting it too high up under my arm.
I tested the bag to see just how much it can carry! This load had some vegetables on top of heavier items. (I wish the wonderfully affordable vegetables at ALDI weren’t packed in single-use plastic!!)
I filled the whole bottom of the bag with heavy items: a total of 2 gallons of liquids, several steel cans, a glass jar of salsa, and a tub of sour cream. This load was so heavy I could barely lift it, but the bag did not tear, pop stitches, or feel strained! It also showed no visible damage after being dragged a short distance on concrete with that heavy load. Some types of printed fabric lose their coloring when scraped, but this one did not.
Overall, this is a very good quality, spacious bag. It can be machine washed and dried.
What are its downsides?
- No pockets. That makes it better for carrying stuff you’ll load up quickly (like groceries)–interior pockets just get in the way. But it’s not suitable for organizing stuff that includes small things you’ll want to find easily during your trip. My favorite shopping bags have just one exterior pocket, where I put my shopping list and coupons.
- The somewhat rounded bottom can make objects tip over, if you don’t have the bag packed absolutely full.
- No top closure. The loop keeps it from falling open, but everyone around you can see what’s in your bag, and you can’t protect the contents from airborne dust or light rain.
- Not waterproof. Of course not–it’s cotton! We have a few nylon, zip-top tote bags for times we think it might rain on the way home from the store, but in general waterproofness isn’t necessary.
- The button might come off if you strain it. That wouldn’t be a big deal–you could replace it with any large button. I’d sew a small button on the inside at the same time; that helps to reinforce it and prevent the threads from breaking.
Hello Sunday Large Shopping Tote is available in many beautiful patterns and would make a great gift! It also comes in a smaller size. There was no plastic in its packaging: It was wrapped in pretty tissue paper, tied with a reusable unbleached cotton ribbon, and even the tags were held on with tied threads instead of those nasty plastic strips.
I expect this bag to last for many years!