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Say No to Plastic Bags in the Produce Aisle!

Say No to Plastic Bags in the Produce Aisle!

More and more of us make sure to bring reusable shopping bags to pack up our groceries at the supermarket. But what about when you’re in the produce aisle and buying a dozen apples, a bunch of asparagus or kale — how many single use grocery bags do you pull out, only to discard them once home?

Writing on Good, Sarah Lawkow notes that a movement to stop using single-use plastic bags for produce is in its infancy. But all those filmy plastic bags add to the more than 31 million tons of plastic waste the U.S. produces in a year, according to the EPA. In 2010, only 12 percent of plastic bags, sacks and wraps was recycled: We can do better.

Brooklyn’s Park Slope Food Co-op has called on customers to stop using the bags while some farmers’ markets offer biodegradable single-use bags. In most places, customers are on their own to forego produce-aisle plastics. There are many options: Laskow lists quite a few (many via Etsy including several made from mesh), as well as some retailers that offer produce bags. Some bags are made from cotton and others from starch from plant sources so they can be composted (noted by Green-Mary). Rodale also suggests turning “retired bed linens, thin tea towels, and mismatched cloth napkins” as well as old t-shirts into reusable produce bags.

There is also the simple option of just putting produce into your reusable grocery bag. After all, the produce needs to be washed once you’ve unpacked it in your kitchen (as does the reusable grocery bag itself).

Plastic bags were only introduced in the 1970s. In 2008, Americans used some 102 billion according to the United States International Trade Commission (a small improvement: in 2006, some 109.8 billion bags were used). But I still remember a time when no store clerk ever asked “paper or plastic” in the checkout lane because paper was the only option. In just about three decades, we’ve gone from using just a few plastic bags to billions. Surely we can find other ways to bring the vegetables home, as generations before us once did.

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218 comments

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1:08PM PDT on Aug 25, 2012

we always always use recycled. We take our own canvas bags to the grocery stores.

11:50PM PDT on Aug 19, 2012

I like the idea of using our own reusable shopping bags--I'm seeing them used more and more, and it seems like a really workable solution to plastic bags.

8:21AM PDT on Jul 31, 2012

Have always found uses for reusing plastic bags and some milk bags are used to weave mats in other countries-not that I would want to sleep on plastic but there are uses for bags aside from being tossed in the trash.

11:20PM PDT on May 26, 2012

This is hard but will try.

8:21PM PDT on May 9, 2012

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10:24AM PDT on Apr 20, 2012

I use my own bags at the checkout and I reuse the veggie/fruit plastic bags to pick up after my dog. I think the bio-degradeable option that was mentioned in the article sounds ideal.

9:49PM PDT on Apr 19, 2012

Great Article. Thank you Kristina.

11:32AM PDT on Apr 19, 2012

I use cloth bags for my produce :)

8:48AM PDT on Apr 19, 2012

Thank you, Kristina!

10:21PM PDT on Apr 17, 2012

I usually don't use plastic bags for my produce. I have mesh produce bags, I have handmade market totes and if I do need a plastic bag, I use and re-use it do death. I have a few that I rinse out, let dry and store in the veggie drawer of my fridge because some items do keep longer when stored in them but I store many different items in the same bag. On that note, I keep a few varieties in water so they keep very long without the need for a plastic bags (asparagus and celery do very well sitting upright in a tall jar half filled with water). I try to never buy pre-packaged produce and am successful when it comes to bags. Other plastic packaging for produce, I found out, can be brought back to the market to be reused. Every single plastic bag that ends up in my house is used multiple times until it can't be used and once it gets to that point, I put them by the front door in a basket and use them when I go on walks with my dog.

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