Newport residents debut eco-friendly bags

A selection of Love Reusable Bags in the Costa Mesa display shop.
(DON LEACH, Daily Pilot)

COSTA MESA —The plastic bag may be on its way out, but reusable totes don’t need to be boring or dangerous to your health, a local merchant said.

“It’s really becoming commonplace for people to use their own bag,” said Gary Crane, co-creator of LOVE Reusable Bags. “People are going to want better bags that they are proud of.”

Newport Beach residents Crane and Joe Rogers, CEO of LOVE’s Costa Mesa-based parent company, American Joe, debuted their line of eco-friendly, lead-free bags in September.

With the recent ban on takeout plastic bags in Los Angeles County, which affects roughly 1.1 million people in unincorporated areas, the duo may soon see a surge of business.

LOVE bags come in four lines: cotton canvas totes, reusable wine bags, travel shopping bags with a built-in clip-on carrier pouch, and the Chill Set.

“The Chill Set is the centerpiece of the LOVE collection,” Rogers said of the four-piece set, which contains a cooler bag and three matching shopping bags — especially handy for separating fresh and frozen items.

Not separating meats from produce, and even more dangerous, not washing the bags frequently can lead to the growth of harmful bacteria, such as E. coli, according to a recent study completed by the University of Arizona and Loma Linda University.

For this reason, the best feature of all LOVE bags is that they are 100 % washable and made to last, Rogers said.

All LOVE bags are machine-washable, with the exception of the cooler, which should be washed by hand.

As many as 12% of customers are using bags contaminated with the bacteria, and only 3% reported ever washed their bags, according to the study that surveyed customers randomly from California and Arizona markets.

In addition, many reusable bags contain unacceptable levels of lead, which can leak into food, according to recent news reports. LOVE’s bags do not contain residue from the metal, according to the company.

Washing the bags in warm, soapy water removed 99.99% percent of harmful bacteria, the study concluded.

Besides safety, the brightly printed shopping bags were constructed with ease of shopping in mind, Rogers explained. Each is built with sturdy fabric that stands up freely for easy loading and can carry up to 60 pounds.

The insulated 2.9-gallon cooler also comes in handy for busy errand days.

“You can zip [the cooler] up and store it in your trunk if you need to pick on the dry-cleaning on your way home from the market,” Rogers said. “You don’t have to worry about it thawing out and losing all your groceries.”

The bags have already arrived to Orange County retailers such as the Seed People’s Market and the Gatehouse. The bags are also sold online at and start at under $10.