how do you not use or re-use produce bags? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 46 Old 06-05-2012, 08:28 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I know this isn't about food but it is about shopping for food!

 

I HATE using new produce bags every time we go to the store. I have not found a good way to reuse them. They are clutter-y and are often wet etc.

 

Someone sent me two cotton bags once but I use them to store the veg in the fridge. 

 

Anyone have a good system?

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#2 of 46 Old 06-05-2012, 08:45 PM
 
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all the stores (even small ones) near me only use recycle # bags(numbers printed right on them)- turn them inside out to dry and bag them up and return them (we have plastic bag recycling bins at all the stores too)-at my local farm markets most are using bags that biodegrade bags


 

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#3 of 46 Old 06-05-2012, 09:41 PM - Thread Starter
 
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 i mean the thin, clear type you put your apples or lettuce etc in. Do they recycle those? Anyway, I think i'd rather re=use or not use at all. Thanks!

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#4 of 46 Old 06-05-2012, 10:18 PM
 
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Anyone have a good system?

 

 

I just don't get them. I used to turn them inside out and try to dry them on the cupboard handles, on the drainer, wherever. I hate them. Then I... just stopped getting them. Apples? Right in the cart. Lettuce? right in the cart. Kiwi, onion, tomato, potato, whatever. I can't think of anything (except a few dry bulk items) I use a bag for anymore. Oh, beans and brussels sprouts need a bag. You could reuse a regular grocery bag for those.

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#5 of 46 Old 06-06-2012, 04:59 AM
 
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 i mean the thin, clear type you put your apples or lettuce etc in. Do they recycle those? Anyway, I think i'd rather re=use or not use at all. Thanks!

those are the ones I mean- they are even at my health food store for bulk items

 

the bio ones I fill with compost and freeze (we have red worms and they like their food frozen & we keep a bin inside-we live in an apt,) the others I turn in just like I recycle other items with numbers on 

 

BTW - I don't buy much at all at the grocery store to have a large lot of these, I do get bulk at the health food store and use from there, our FM we can bring our own and only get a few items in them and those are the bio ones


 

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#6 of 46 Old 06-06-2012, 05:23 AM
 
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if you don't know the number on the bags- ask where you are getting them, ours are printed but the store may know on the package they come in

 

we do "bag" at grocery stores, other recycling is done at centers- they also are very helpful

 

I look at them as any other type of packaging and recycle them-do they take "regular' plastic bags in your area for recycling? 

 

BTW - my health food store also has paper bags (mostly for small amounts) these are recycled in my area as well


 

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#7 of 46 Old 06-06-2012, 07:49 AM
 
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I bought re-usable bags for produce. They are cotton mesh - like netting - but I've also seen gauze, and have a drawstring closure. They are useful at the farmer's market too because the vendors often just sell stuff in baskets or boxes. They are very easy to make, if you do any sewing. 

 

I have reduced use of any kind of bag too. I don't bag things like bell peppers or cucumbers, unless I'm buying multiples. 

 

Sometimes the plastic produce bags still come into the house. If they are clean, then I store them inside an old paper tube from a roll of tinfoil, so they are corralled inside a kitchen drawer. I'll use them to wrap a bowl of marinading meat or an opened block of cheese or to hold baked goods (muffins, bread) or leftover half of a sandwich etc. if all of my re-usable containers are being used. 

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#8 of 46 Old 06-06-2012, 08:00 AM
 
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I just don't get them. I used to turn them inside out and try to dry them on the cupboard handles, on the drainer, wherever. I hate them. Then I... just stopped getting them. Apples? Right in the cart. Lettuce? right in the cart. Kiwi, onion, tomato, potato, whatever. I can't think of anything (except a few dry bulk items) I use a bag for anymore. Oh, beans and brussels sprouts need a bag. You could reuse a regular grocery bag for those.

 

Most of the grocery stores in my area package their meat in such a way that you almost inevitably get juice/blood on the conveyor belt at checkout. I once made a big mess with an especially drippy pack of steaks, and when I told the cashier, she just wiped it with a dry rag. uhoh3.gif Since then I've been careful not to let fresh produce touch the conveyor belt, except bananas. It might not be so bad for something like apples or tomatoes, but I can't imagine trying to disinfect a head of lettuce.

 

The stores are starting to put those produce baggies in the meat section (along with paper towels, presumably to grab the meat with), but I'm not sure how many other people use them.

 

Maybe I should bring some kind of plastic tub and pile my produce in there....

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#9 of 46 Old 06-06-2012, 08:09 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Buzzer Beater View Post

 

 

I just don't get them. I used to turn them inside out and try to dry them on the cupboard handles, on the drainer, wherever. I hate them. Then I... just stopped getting them. Apples? Right in the cart. Lettuce? right in the cart. Kiwi, onion, tomato, potato, whatever. I can't think of anything (except a few dry bulk items) I use a bag for anymore. Oh, beans and brussels sprouts need a bag. You could reuse a regular grocery bag for those.

Me, too.  The checker usually seems annoyed with all my produce rolling around everywhere, lol.


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#10 of 46 Old 06-06-2012, 08:09 AM
 
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I bought re-usable bags for produce.

 

how do mainstream grocery stores let you do this?

 

we are not allowed to conceal products at ours, thus clear bags provided by the store, even the returnable bags can not be filled until you are at check out

 

 

 

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 Since then I've been careful not to let fresh produce touch the conveyor belt, except bananas.

it's the carts too, not just the handles 


 

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#11 of 46 Old 06-06-2012, 08:14 AM
 
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I second the cotton mesh bags--if you have enough you can use them to store produce in the fridge (I always keep my mushrooms in them) and have more to bring to the farmers market/grocery with you. 


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#12 of 46 Old 06-06-2012, 08:14 AM
 
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I have several mesh bags i found super cheap at target a few years ago (4 for $1 on clearance). They were meant for storing stuff in the car, i believe, but I use these for my produce. It works. The cashier can still see the products and i don't have tons of plastic bags around.

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#13 of 46 Old 06-06-2012, 08:21 AM
 
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 The cashier can still see the products and i don't have tons of plastic bags around.

 

aren't you paying for the weight? cotton/cloth weights more


 

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#14 of 46 Old 06-06-2012, 08:28 AM
 
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how do mainstream grocery stores let you do this?

 

we are not allowed to conceal products at ours, thus clear bags provided by the store, even the returnable bags can not be filled until you are at check out

 

 

 

I shop at a variety of places - small neighbourhood green grocer, farmer's market and sometimes large chain supermarkets. I haven't had any opposition to re-usable bags - it's too bad your supermarket isn't more cooperative.

 

I nestle the produce in the bags and leave the drawstring open, so that it the cashier can see into the bag. It's never been an issue. Since the bags are mesh netting, the produce is all visible anyway, even if I closed the drawstring. I leave it open since it's easier to identify variety of apple or orange or tomato etc. 

 

Maybe I should be a little more concerned about food safety, but I figure any food that has been shipped some distance from where it's grown and picked has been exposed to all sorts of dirt and germs. If it's at a busy supermarket, it then sits out in the store to be pawed over and sneezed on by a few thousand people every day until I come along to buy it. A quick trip along the conveyer belt is nothing in the total journey of a head of lettuce. I wash it all fairly thoroughly before I use it at home. Lettuce is submerged in a bowl of cold water, then spun dry, then wrapped in a dish towel for further drying. 

 

If I was that concerned, I'd probably give the conveyer belt a quick wipe with my own cloth and a little hand sanitizer before I put my produce on it. I think I'd be more troubled about the hand sanitizer though. 

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#15 of 46 Old 06-06-2012, 08:36 AM
 
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aren't you paying for the weight? cotton/cloth weights more

 

I suppose that's possible. The bags are really lightweight though and if I am paying more, it's in fractions of cents. Not something I worry about, but I can see it being an issue for some.

 

If it is a concern, then the gauze bags are probably closer in weight to the plastic than the mesh cotton. On-line, I've seen people make them out of cheesecloth, which has a pretty negligible weight, at least if you're buying something heavy like most fruit or vegetables. 

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#16 of 46 Old 06-06-2012, 08:39 AM
 
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with our states retail laws there is no way you can do here, it's your personal bag and that is the same as putting it into a purse, doesn't matter if you plan to pay for it or not


 

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with our states retail laws there is no way you can do here, it's your personal bag and that is the same as putting it into a purse, doesn't matter if you plan to pay for it or not

 

Okay, I guess you've established that it is absolutely impossible for you to use re-usable produce bags. That's too bad because it works really well here. 

 

OP, I hope that you've found some helpful suggestions for your own use in this thread, even though others haven't. 

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#18 of 46 Old 06-06-2012, 10:08 AM
 
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Just wanted to mention that I have had the same experiences with weight of bag/visibility of produce as ollyoxenfree--I too leave the drawstring open so the cashier can peek in if need be. Obviously at the farmer's market that's not an issue, but I've never had an issue at the grocery either, although I do usually shop at Whole Foods in a pretty crunchy area. 


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#19 of 46 Old 06-06-2012, 10:58 AM
 
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Most of the grocery stores in my area package their meat in such a way that you almost inevitably get juice/blood on the conveyor belt at checkout. I once made a big mess with an especially drippy pack of steaks, and when I told the cashier, she just wiped it with a dry rag. uhoh3.gif Since then I've been careful not to let fresh produce touch the conveyor belt, except bananas. It might not be so bad for something like apples or tomatoes, but I can't imagine trying to disinfect a head of lettuce.

 

The stores are starting to put those produce baggies in the meat section (along with paper towels, presumably to grab the meat with), but I'm not sure how many other people use them.

 

Maybe I should bring some kind of plastic tub and pile my produce in there....

 

I think a plastic tub would be a great idea. Reusable, keeps the food off the conveyor belt etc. I don't have any huge misconceptions about food from a large grocery being super clean tho. I do rinse everything, but you're right it's not disinfecting anything.

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#20 of 46 Old 06-06-2012, 11:35 AM
 
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We have gotten away from using plastic produce bags as much as possible (we use paper, or no bag). But we end up with a million plastic bags in our house anyway, because of things like buying GF bread, etc. It drives me NUTS to throw away a plastic bag before it's been used & used until it's falling apart. So we wash & re-use them and have all these crazy systems for doing so. And that drives me nuts, too. I really don't want to spend my precious few "me time" minutes every evening washing out plastic bags. So it's a sort of "damned if I do, damned if I don't" situation. I wish there weren't so many dang things packaged in plastic bags.


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#21 of 46 Old 06-06-2012, 11:42 AM
 
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I think a plastic tub would be a great idea. Reusable, keeps the food off the conveyor belt etc.

 

 

in our mainstream grocery stores this really won't work either- at the end of the belt is the scale (also the scanner), they use that for meats and veggies/fruits and definitely not cleaned in-between - to me that is where most of the cross contamination is happening

 

while meats are pre-packaged most are still weighted when there are % off coupons/sales-one scale for all


 

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None of the stores around here weigh meats on the checkout scale. I' ve never actually seen that. Meat is either prepackaged and priced or the butcher gets your pound of whatever and prints the sticker out right then, after it's wrapped up.

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I shop for produce once a week at a little 'mom and pop' produce store - i once saw a young man using his big, reusable shopping bag to put all his produce in - bag free - took it all out to weigh, ring up - then put it all back in his ONE reusable shopping bag - oh to be shopping for one person! 

I buy everything in multiples - i use the produce bags, even if they get a little wet or dirty - i just stash them in a drawer and bring them back to the produce store with me the next week - i wash off the produce so if the bag is dirty - its not the end of the world.   Those mesh bags sound interesting though!


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#24 of 46 Old 06-06-2012, 05:23 PM
 
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None of the stores around here weigh meats on the checkout scale. I' ve never actually seen that.

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scan and weight all together!

 

yea and it gets really cruddy but all are stores have purell station at all the check outs as well

 


 

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#25 of 46 Old 06-07-2012, 12:43 PM
 
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We have gotten away from using plastic produce bags as much as possible (we use paper, or no bag). But we end up with a million plastic bags in our house anyway, because of things like buying GF bread, etc. It drives me NUTS to throw away a plastic bag before it's been used & used until it's falling apart. So we wash & re-use them and have all these crazy systems for doing so. And that drives me nuts, too. I really don't want to spend my precious few "me time" minutes every evening washing out plastic bags. So it's a sort of "damned if I do, damned if I don't" situation. I wish there weren't so many dang things packaged in plastic bags.

So frustrating, huh?  I often won't buy a product because it's all in unnecessary plastic.  WHY do they that for every little thing? 


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#26 of 46 Old 06-07-2012, 12:46 PM
 
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We avoid purchasing stuff in plastic bags as much as we can, but geez, it's really hard to avoid. Especially now that DP has gone gluten free, and we have to buy special bread and stuff. I wish someone would invent a process for composting plastic bags. Didn't someone discover some microbe in the Amazon that eats petroleum products?


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#27 of 46 Old 06-07-2012, 02:56 PM
 
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Like others, I try to reduce the number of bags that I use, so things like apples and such go straight to the cart. I do like the bags for lettuce and other greens, or little things like brussel sprouts.

 

I save all my plastic bags from bread, bagels, etc and bring them with me. These don't need to get washed out and I just shake out the crumbs over the sink.   I go to a pretty mainstream grocery store and they don't really care if I use those. I just have to remember to turn them inside out or they accidentally get scanned as the original item (like the bread).  Once they are wet or slimy (I hate when I let produce go bad in the fridge!) I try to wash if I have time. I have some twine strung over my sink with clothes pins where I hang dry the bags and it's not usually a big deal. But if I'm feeling lazy or the bags are looking too old, I'll just put them in the pile to get recycled.

 

I'll have to keep my eyes peeled for those mesh bags. Anyone have any links so I can see them?

 

ETA: just did a quick internet search and saw a ton of cheap options... I'm sold!


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#28 of 46 Old 06-07-2012, 07:24 PM
 
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Good idea.  I always think of this at the store and wonder what other people do.  I can't go bagless because I'm buying at least 4-5 pounds of apples a week for my family and they need to be weighed at check out and that would take forever if they were loose.


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#29 of 46 Old 06-07-2012, 10:10 PM
 
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I haven't found a perfect solution either but I do minimize the amount of bags I use by not bagging many types of produce (most fruits, tomatoes, onions...). I just place them in an organized manner in the cart and on the conveyer belt (kind of helping them stay together as they go through, so the cashiers sympathize). Greens and herbs go in bags unfortunately. 

 

The mesh bags may be a good idea. I got some of them but I kept forgetting to take them with me to the store, so I gave up.blush.gif

 

When they are in good state (not muddy), I turn them inside out and reuse them.


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#30 of 46 Old 06-08-2012, 08:15 AM
 
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I'll have to keep my eyes peeled for those mesh bags. Anyone have any links so I can see them?

 

ETA: just did a quick internet search and saw a ton of cheap options... I'm sold!

 

I'm glad you found some on-line sources. I bought mine at an eco-friendly home store a few years ago and can't recall the brand, sorry. 

 

 

 

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Originally Posted by CI Mama View Post

We have gotten away from using plastic produce bags as much as possible (we use paper, or no bag). But we end up with a million plastic bags in our house anyway, because of things like buying GF bread, etc. It drives me NUTS to throw away a plastic bag before it's been used & used until it's falling apart. So we wash & re-use them and have all these crazy systems for doing so. And that drives me nuts, too. I really don't want to spend my precious few "me time" minutes every evening washing out plastic bags. So it's a sort of "damned if I do, damned if I don't" situation. I wish there weren't so many dang things packaged in plastic bags.

 

 

 I would be really happy with less plastic packaging too. I mentioned in my first response that despite efforts to reduce the number of plastic bags we use, we always seem to end up with a few. I don't really sweat over them though. I re-use them if I can and that's good enough for my conscience. 

 

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