Reusable Bag Magic

Aug 2, 2018 | by Hawnuh Lee

Jumping into a low waste lifestyle is daunting. I’ve spent years habituated to convenient practices that I’m not 100% sure how to shift. Are the products I’m investing in ethical? Why am I so bad at washing kale? Why does everything have to be in a glass jar and why are these glass jars so dang expensive? So many barriers to entry, even for someone actively trying to make sustainable adjustments to my daily routine. It’s difficult to imagine the barriers for someone else who might not have the means or context to make those changes. That’s why my goal for Closed Loop Cooking is to create easy and accessible resources for anyone looking to make positive shifts in their lifestyle, one step at a time. Like using a reusable produce bag over the convenient plastic film roll at the grocery store.

reusable, cloth bulk bags
Upcycled cotton sheets make for great produce bags.

Say No to Plastic Produce Bags

The scourge of my grocery shopping experience! You know what I’m talking about – the thin oversized bag on a roll of 500 next to the bananas. Why do bananas need to be put in a plastic bag? Who are you protecting? This kind of plastic is actually classified as a film, and is exceedingly difficult to recycle because it clogs up machinery and slows down the process. Not many recycling programs end up taking these and the ones that do usually make these back into more plastic bags that you just end up tossing. Myself, the ever-optimistic recycler puts a clean plastic produce bag into my recycling, having reused it within an inch of its life, hoping it will make its way out into the world again but knowing that it’s not likely. Another single-use item I couldn’t save.

Plastic bags are adventurous free-wheelers that float on the wind and can end up in the farthest reaches of humanity, never breaking down. While they may be the most emotionally stable thing in my life, they have got to go! I’m making a personal stand to stop using plastic produce bags and find some reliable alternatives I can easily remember. Enter in the magical reusable, cloth produce bag – made out of recycled materials that will eventually break down. Hopefully, you’re already making an effort to bring your reusable tote to the grocery store, what’s another small bag or two? Or five? How big of a traveler’s pack are we talking here…?

Avoid and Replace Plastic Produce Bags

Bringing your own produce bags is definitely challenging when there are several rolls placed conveniently throughout the fruits and vegetables in your local grocery store. But fight the urge my friend! That filmy sleeve won’t last you long but it will last basically forever on the planet. Try these tips to help you avoid the scourge:

  • If you’ve forgotten any kind of produce bag and need to hold a larger quantity, most grocery stores offer free paper bags. Look next to the mushrooms or in the bulk dry goods section for these.
  • If you’re purchasing a larger item just drop it in your basket and give it a good wash when you get home.
  • Invest in a set of inexpensive, quality produce bags – these are lightweight to carry and you can wash them just like towels. Super easy!
  • Or make a set out of old bedsheets or t-shirts. Reuse any cotton materials you have laying around. Here is a great tutorial from Wellness Mama if you’re feeling crafty. (I’ll be making more uniquely printed bags for the Closed Loop Cooking store in the near future!)
  • Use your larger, reusable tote. Yes, that kale is probably a little dirty but how else do you wear those bags in?
  • Carry a reusable produce bag with you at all times! Put one in your favorite bag, on the front seat of your passenger side, in the shower, you never know. 
reusable, cloth bulk bags

Once you’re in the bulk bag swing of things, keep in mind most stores will deduct the weight of your cloth bags from the overall tare of your product. You can either keep one empty handy for reference or just note the weight beforehand if a taring station (the weighing scale) is available. I used mine to collect all the ingredients for The Best Bulk Bin Granola!

We can make a serious impact just by starting with one shift. Invest in a bag or a few that you know you will use more than once. I’m going to make it a point to make rad bags for produce, bulk, and hauling for your grocery shopping available soon!

Do you know how many plastic produce bags are in your fridge right now?? I want to know!

Stay hungry,
Hawnuh Lee
Closed Loop Cooking

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