Since some metropolitan cities have now municipally outlawed the distribution of plastic bags in grocery and retail stores, my reusable shopping bags have become constant traveling companions in my car. I use them for weekly grocery trips, farmers market finds, mall outings and more.

But after about a month's worth of routine use, many of my dollar bags from big box stores have torn, split or shredded in the wash. Dollar by dollar, I've watched my money quite literally get thrown out. When a friend gave me a Chico Bag, however, I realized I had finally found a better bag. Here’s what I love about them:

  • They're sturdy. The bags have wide shoulder straps which evenly distribute weight, making them comfortable to carry without digging into my skin.
  • They're washable. The bags can be thrown in the washing machine and hung to dry.
  • They're hefty. These bags can hold up to 40 pounds!
  • They're environmentally-friendly. The bags are made from recycled material, some from old water bottles. The company even has an initiative to recycle old bags (of any brand/variety) into fun rugs like these.
  • They're stylish. There are so many fun colors and patterns to choose from!
  • They're compact. They fold into themselves via a hidden pocket, and many come with a built-in metal hook for easy storage.

Needless to say, I quickly converted. These are bags I actually use, which wasn't always the case with my bulky, dirty reusable bags. At around $12 retail per bag, however, the high price initially gave me pause. Should I spend $50 or more to have a personal supply? These bags are so well made, I'd be willing to—but being a KCL, I'm glad I didn't have to!

Here's how I get Chico bags for less than half their retail price:

1. Buy at a discount from an online retailer

Everyone's favorite online marketplace, Amazon.com, offers Chico Bags for deep discounts, like this 4-pack for less than $19. Ecobags.com also offers Chico bags, which can be bought with site discount codes (like 20 percent off). So whether buying one bag or several, discounts and sales are available.

2. Buy on sale at recreational sports stores

Stores like REI and Eastern Mountain Sports carry Chico bags in stores and online, and one perk of shopping at these stores is the discounts they give. My latest Vita rePETe bag only cost $5.73 through REI's online outlet (they offer other ways to save, which you can read more about here). Use an Eastern Mountain Sports discount code on top of a bag sale price to get a steal.

3. Buy a "Grab Bag"

The company offers a fun online option of 7 assorted bags (the company chooses the colors) in various styles for only $24.99, which is a steal since they would originally add up to over $55! That's only $3.57 per bag, so this becomes a great way to stock up for yourself or even for gifts.

4. Buy from the Chico Bag's online "Sale" section

The Chico Bag online website has a small sale section; at present, there are several "two for" offers on popular print and sling bags, making each bag $7.49. Check the "On Sale" page for these and other such rotating offers.

5. Buy a "limited time only" set

From now until October 31, shoppers can get a "boo-tiful" trio of Halloween-themed bags (jack-o-lantern, skull, and Frankenstein) for only $15. Let your kiddos use them for trick-or-treating, and then snag them yourself for year-round use. Note: these bags are a bit smaller than the original Chico Bags and will hold 25 pounds instead of 40. (Let's hope your kids don't come home with that much candy!)

6. Start a fundraiser

If you are tired of hawking cookie dough and wrapping paper as fundraiser products, try something people will like—Chico Bags! Fundraising opportunities are available for groups, organizations, and even school classes. Free sample bags are available, and kids who participate in the fundraising each get a free race pack.

7. Use the company warranty option

All Chico Bags—regardless of where they have been purchased—come with a one-year warranty (learn more about how to claim warranties and guarantees here). That means if the bag underperforms, it can be replaced. I inquired about the warranty with the company for a badly stained bag (my fault!), and the company was gracious enough to offer a free replacement! (I ended up keeping the bag, as I finally removed the stain after using a vinegar application I learned about from a reader comment on this KCL post). I feel confident purchasing from a company that I know is going to stand behind their product. To learn more, download their warranty form here.

I use my Chico Bags most often for shopping, but I've also taken them to soccer games, the pool and the gym—the versatility is endless! Using these techniques, I typically buy Chico Bags (for myself or gifts) for $4–6 each.

So whether you are looking for a sensible set of reusable bags for yourself or planning ahead for the holidays (think teacher gifts, White Elephant Christmas exchanges, and stocking stuffers), Chico Bags are an easy, functional, and affordable purchase.

How to Save on Chico Reusable Shopping Bags