We all know that single use plastic bag usage has gone down significantly in the last decade thanks to great campaigns outlining how damaging they are to our environment and most of us now own at least one (or more) “bags for life” (a heavy-duty reusable plastic bag which can be used repeatedly for carrying shopping). However, there is still a big problem in most supermarkets: produce bags. A produce bag is a thin plastic bag (not usually recyclable) that is offered to put produce in to keep it fresh. These are very problematic as they are very wasteful and entirely unnecessary! Produce like fruits and vegetables don’t need protecting as they have a tough exterior which they have developed themselves for just that purpose. Luckily there is a great alternative to these horrid plastic sheets in the form of reusable mesh produce bags!
Why Use Mesh?
Mesh is a great design for produce bags for several reasons:
- It is breathable and allows air to flow naturally ensuring freshness
- It is very easy to wash produce in the bag for easy handling and storage
- It takes up very little physical space and can be folded into any container to take with you any time!
- It can be recycled and can be made from recycled plastic!
Mesh is a fantastic design for produce bags and there are many varieties to choose from with some manufacturers adding colour to their designs to help keep your collection organised and varying thickness of the mesh weaves on offer. They are a great alternative to the single use plastics currently on offer and with such a wide variety you are almost guaranteed to find one that suits your needs.
However, there are some down-sides to mesh bags. They are nearly always plastic and artificial and have often been treated with chemicals to alter the appearance and qualities of the mesh itself. This is a major drawback to buying ready-made produce bags as they are quite artificial by nature and this can understandably put some people off buying them.
Alternatives to Plastic?
One great alternative to using ready-made mesh bags is to make your own from recycled fabric or to buy a cloth tote bag to carry your groceries in. Mesh bags aren’t always suitable for certain items like loose nuts and smaller items that you want to buy without packaging and this is where cloth bags can really come in handy!
Cloth bags are very eco-friendly (provided they aren’t bleached or saturated in other chemicals) as they are bio-degradable and can easily be made or purchased using up cycled fabrics. If you’re handy with a sewing machine you could make your own bags from any spare fabric you can get your hands on like old curtains, clothing or other machine washable materials and if (like me) you don’t have the faintest idea how to operate a sewing machine without doing yourself a serious injury there are plenty of great creators around locally (usually via Etsy) who will most likely make these sorts of bags already for sale. If you don’t know what Etsy is by the way, it’s an app/website where crafters can create items and post them online. Think of it as a local and handmade eBay 🙂
Another option is to use glass or plastic jars you already have around from other products as these make wonderful storage containers for loose items like nuts and small produce as well as being great for a trip to the local zero packaging wholesaler. I don’t live near one of these places unfortunately but they are great! Basically a zero packaging store, also known as a zero waste store, is exactly what it sounds like! The owners of the store have done away with plastic and other packaging in favour of offering dispensable and loose grains, nuts, cereals, etc. So the idea is that people bring their own containers when they shop and keep packaging waste minimal. Jars are great for this 🙂
What are your thoughts?
I’d love to hear what you all think about this topic in the comments below so please feel free to get involved 🙂 Although I don’t live near a zero waste store right now there are still plenty of ways I have found to help reduce my plastic pollution when out shopping and I hope that I’ve helped you guys learn a little more about how we can do more to live greener when shopping! Got any tips or tricks yourself? I’d love to hear about them!
Love and Light,