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Instacart Bags Explained: Which to Use & Where To Buy

Published On: 2 Comments
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Key Takeaways

  • Instacart provides shoppers with optional discounted thermal bags.
  • Various bag types can be used by shoppers, including paper, plastic, and insulated green bags.
  • Instacart adapts to plastic bag bans with alternative solutions.
  • Insulated bags essential for food safety, not guaranteed more batches.

Does Instacart Provide Shoppers With Bags?

Yes, Instacart provides shoppers with bags, but not for free.

Shoppers have the option to receive four green Instacart thermal bags at a discounted price, which is deducted from their first earnings. Alternatively, shoppers can purchase their own insulated bags elsewhere.

Customers, not shoppers, are responsible for any bag fees, as these are included in the taxes and fees of an order and paid for using the Instacart credit card provided to the shopper. This includes any state or store-specific plastic or paper bag fees.

Customers have the option to pay for bag fees during pickup orders or bring their own bags.

What Types of Bags Does Instacart Use?

Instacart uses four main types of bags for carrying and delivering groceries:

  1. Paper Grocery Bags: Shoppers can choose between paper or plastic bags at the store, based on availability and the store’s policy. Customers may incur additional charges for paper bags.
  2. Plastic Grocery Bags: These are typically offered free of charge, although some states have implemented fees or bans on plastic bags.
  3. Instacart Insulated Green Food Bags: Instacart sells these bags to shoppers, who are required to use insulated bags to ensure food safety.
  4. Regular Insulated Bags: Shoppers may also use any brand of insulated bag, provided it is a closed thermal bag or a hard-shell cooler.

Shoppers are encouraged to use insulated bags, either from Instacart or another source, for the safety and quality of the groceries delivered.

Brett’s Take: Thoughts From an Expert

One of the most frustrating things as an Instacart customer is the sheer amount of bags that you accumulate while regularly using the service for grocery delivery orders.

I think Instacart has done a good job of finding a solution, by offering discounted insulated grocery delivery bags for shoppers.

However, it seems like the shoppers just put the plastic bags inside of their insulated bags, which still leaves me with a ton of plastic bags once the order actually arrives.

My Suggestion: I suggest a bit of proactivity from both sides here.

Shoppers should reach out and ask how customers would like them to handle the plastic bags.

On the other hand, customers who are bothered by the huge amount of plastic bags should reach out to shoppers and ask if they have an insulated bag that they can use instead of getting plastic bags at the store.

How Instacart Is Dealing with Plastic Bag Bans

In regions where plastic bags are banned, Instacart adapts by allowing its shoppers to use alternatives.

If you’re a shopper, ask a store employee or the cashier if paper bags are available, and let the customer know if there will be a bag tax for using paper bags. The store may also have its own policy for Instacart shoppers.

If a customer opts not to pay for paper bags or if none are available, shoppers can use their insulated bags for the delivery.

Although this method may extend the unloading time, it ensures that groceries are delivered efficiently and safely, with a particular emphasis on separating cold and hot items to maintain their appropriate temperatures.

How Do I Use Reusable Bags with Instacart?

If you’re a shopper working for Instacart and you’re wondering how to use your insulated and reusable bags to deliver groceries, here’s a guide:

  • Determine whether the customer wants to use plastic, paper, or no bags.
  • Load the groceries into the insulated bags after checkout at the store location.
  • Transport the groceries to the customer’s location.
  • If the groceries are in plastic or paper bags within the insulated bags, you can simply remove the bags and deliver them to the customer’s preferred spot.
  • If the customer requests no bags, ask the customer where they’d like you to leave them.
  • Help the customer unload the items until everything is safely delivered.

Once you finish, take your bags back to your car and repeat the process.

Does Having Insulated Bags Get You More Instacart Batches?

vector graphic showing an instacart shopper loading groceries into instacart bags at checkout

Since Instacart requires using an insulated bag or cooler to keep food safe, you must follow their policies.

Customers may notice and get upset if you opt not to use an insulated bag.

This occurrence can lead to a customer reporting your shopper to Instacart or leaving a bad review.

Since customers already expect top-quality service when they place an order, they also hope that their shopper will follow all of the Instacart policies.

Instacart won’t award more orders for simply following their rules.

Instacart selects drivers for active orders based on:

  • Shopper availability
  • Distance to the store
  • Customer address
  • The shopper’s reviews
  • Shopper Instacart scores (such as the number of deliveries accepted, etc.)

Best Bags to Buy for Instacart

Here are some of the best bags to buy for Instacart shopping.

Read More

This bag is an affordable and large option for grocery orders and is commonly purchased by Instacart shoppers.

Some of its benefits include:

  • Dual zippers
  • Giant size
  • Weighs 3oz
  • Collapsable
  • Works for both cold and hot deliveries
Read More

These blue insulated grocery Instacart delivery bags by VENO are an excellent option for Instacart if you’re looking for a cheap bulk option.

Here are some of the benefits of this bag:

  • Cheapest option
  • Two bags for the price of one
  • Durable and heavy-woven
  • Flexible for various types of grocery orders
Read More

Ezek offers a two-pack of reusable grocery insulated bags in bright green to go with the Instacart shopper theme.

If you’re interested in these bags, here are some of their benefits:

  • Large capacity
  • The appearance of Instacart branded bags without the price
  • Top-quality zippers
  • Two for the price of one  

2 thoughts on “Instacart Bags Explained: Which to Use & Where To Buy”

  1. I’m considering working for Instacart and/or DoorDash,but I’m a little confused about the insulated bag thing even after reading the article. If I’m doing a contactless delivery, do I transport the cold items in a paper/plastic bag inside the insulated bag, then take the paper bag out and just leave it on the doorstep so I can take my insulated bag with me? How would the customer know whether or not I had used an insulated bag and potentially give a poor review for not delivering the food in the insulated bag?


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