Sunday, November 4

The Produce Bag Problem (and solutions!)

Every time I go to the grocery store, the first section I hit is the produce department. And when the garden is not growing, I buy a lot of fruits and veggies. I try to go organic as much as selection and the household budget allow and usually I can get a good variety for an affordable price.

My problem has always been those plastic bags that apples, pears, broccoli and just about everything besides the bananas go into. I bring my canvas grocery bags for the checkout line, try to buy organic and look for items with the least amount of packaging and yes, I feel good about my "green" efforts. But those plastic produce bags haunt me.

A few months ago I came across a blog posting about a woman who made some light weight cloth bags for produce and bulk department purchases and I emailed her about them. I wanted to know how they worked out for her. In my mind, I could see her going to the store, feeling great about her cloth bags, filling them up with green beans, snap peas and lentils but arriving in the check out lane only to be scoffed at.

How are they weighed? How does the cashier know what is in the opaque bag? Who does this crazy lady think she is trying to be all different? What? Our plastic bags are not good enough for Ms. Eco-Green?

I actually never heard back from her but I kept the idea in the back of my mind, and it was brought to the front every time I went shopping. But somehow other projects came up and I never got around to putting serious thought into making my own bags.

What material could I use? How would I keep them clean? Would I remember to take them to the store? Would I be turned away at the cashier because they wouldn't know how to weigh the items?

I remember quickly scanning Google and finding a few crochet examples of small produce bags at the time, and those cloth ones I mentioned earlier. And at that time, I had many other projects a little higher on the "these-get-my-limited-time-and-attention" agenda.

Today I went shopping and I saw a sign posted by the big roll of plastic produce bags: these bags are recyclable! I though about how I might put these very lightweight items into my recycling bin on pick up day without them blowing away. Would they really be recycled?

I just couldn't picture it. So, making produce bags is now #1 on the to-do list.

In just a few short months I can not believe the explosion of produce bag articles, instructions, patterns and buy-them-already-made web pages. Cloth, mesh, crochet, knitted, muslin, hemp, recycled plastic....  The important aspects for me would be knowing exactly what the bag is made of and if it can be cleaned easily.

Here are just a few of the great products and ideas I found. Most state in the product description or the patterns that the finished product is lightweight and does not effect the weight/cost of the produce.

I will weigh my options (no pun intended) and let you all know how things unfold at the check out line.

Natural Fabric Produce Bags

Lightweight Polyester Mesh Bags

Reusable Cotton Mesh Produce Bags

Gauze, Cotton or Net Produce Bags

Cotton Produce Bags (Created from the sleeves of slightly used 100% cotton t-shirts)

Mesh Produce Bags (100% recycled Reprieve yarn, which is made entirely from things like plastic bottles and manufacturing discards.)

T-Shirt Produce Bags

Hand-Crocheted Produce Bag

Reusable Produce Bags (I really like this one!)

Crochet Produce Bag

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