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  Topic Review (Newest First)
06-24-2012 12:33 PM
ShadowMoon

I bought several re-usable mesh and cotton produce bags and bring them with me when I shop. I have enough for storage in the fridge and enough for shopping. The only time i may use a plastic bag is for very wet greens.

 

I go to various markets and none have an issue with putting items in re-usable bags as you shop around. 

06-24-2012 11:45 AM
beanma

I volunteer at our food co-op and one of my jobs is bagging groceries. I have seen every possible combination here. The mesh bags are great. Some people save the plastic bag that cereal comes in inside the box and reuse that. Folks have cheese cloth and nylon bags that are designed as produce bags. Most people just skip the bags for a lot of produce, but every now and then you'll get someone who bags every single item in a plastic produce bag — down to a single cucumber or orange. We have small brown paper bags (like lunch sacks) available as well as the plastic film bags. For things that aren't wet the paper bags work great. For things like mushrooms and peaches that need to breathe they're preferable.

 

Personally, I avoid using the plastic produce bags, but occasionally if the lettuce is really wet or something I'll take one. Sometimes I put meat in it if the package looks suspect. I re-use them at home a lot. I just wash them and put them in the dish drainer to dry. I might put them over a glass or something. Occasionally I hang them outside on the line. If they're not very dirty I'll just skip the washing. I use paper a lot for the bulk items like flour and grits and oatmeal. 

 

I have always meant to make one of those stick plastic bag dryers (http://www.gaiam.com/product/countertop+bag+dryer.do?utm_medium=shoppingengine&utm_source=googlebase&extcmp=cse_froogle&cvsfa=3728&cvsfe=2&cvsfhu=30362d30303037) out of Tinker Toys or Fiddlesticks, but have never gotten around to it, so they just end up drying over something in the dish drainer or hung on the line.

 

Another of my jobs is recycling. I'm the person who takes all the plastic grocery bags into the back to be recycled. In our county we do accept all plastic grocery type bags, the produce bags, ziplocks w/ the zip removed, bubble wrap, saran type wrap, etc. It can all get recycled together. 

06-20-2012 02:19 PM
tillymonster I reuse them as garbage bags when I chop my veggies up. Or I line my garbage bowl. They are pretty useless! Thanks for the mesh bag idea!
06-20-2012 12:11 AM
mambera

I have some meshies but not enough and also they are not very sturdy, they are getting destroyed after a couple of years of not-heavy use.  I mostly reuse the plastic ones as others have said.

06-16-2012 05:22 PM
serenbat
Quote:

i wonder if this counts when people eat fruit before paying for it. when i worked at a grocery store, people frequently brought the banana peel for me to weigh! that is stealing! occasionally they would have me weigh a whole banana in it's place but that was rare. if you pay by weight, but eat part of it(concealing it in your body lol) before weighing, that is wrong.

 

 

 

Quote:
Non-white, or poor, or non-familiar shoppers run a much greater risk of being harassed if they use their own bags

 

 

 

 

I sometimes go to a WF an hour away- it's like night and day what I see people getting away with--not in my area-I have seen store employees go up to people with food (even for their children) and they do have to pay!

I have seen people give whole muffins to their children at WF and nothing is said to them and they don't offer to pay (and I'm sure they didn't pay up front!) I was behind one of these mothers one time- that would not fly in my area

06-16-2012 03:35 PM
purplerose

i wonder if this counts when people eat fruit before paying for it. when i worked at a grocery store, people frequently brought the banana peel for me to weigh! that is stealing! occasionally they would have me weigh a whole banana in it's place but that was rare. if you pay by weight, but eat part of it(concealing it in your body lol) before weighing, that is wrong.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by serenbat View Post

 

   Presumptions. Any person purposely concealing unpurchased merchandise of any store or other retail mercantile establishment, either on the premises or outside the premises of such store or other retail mercantile establishment, shall be prima facie presumed to have so concealed such merchandise with the intention of depriving the merchant of the possession, use or benefit of such merchandise without paying the full retail value thereof, and the finding of such merchandise concealed upon the person or among the belongings of such person shall be prima facie evidence of purposeful concealment; and if such person conceals, or causes to be concealed, such merchandise upon the person or among the belongings of another, the finding of the same shall also be prima facie evidence of willful concealment on the part of the person so concealing such merchandise.

06-16-2012 01:57 PM
Smithie

No matter what state you are in, no matter what the law says - white middle-class hippie folk who are regulars at the store will not be harassed, and if they are, the manager will apologize. 

 

Non-white, or poor, or non-familiar shoppers run a much greater risk of being harassed if they use their own bags. 

06-14-2012 05:43 PM
serenbat
Quote:

I would still try the mesh bag. If you put the veggies ~in the see-through bag~ on the belt then it is beyond obvious that you want to BUY them. If they try to call the cops so be it, just calmly explain that you are trying to reduce, reuse, etc....and if they still make a stink then call your local press and make a big deal out of it. Hell, maybe you'll start a wave of action and those mesh bags will become at least acceptable if not downright trendy!

 

I understand what you are saying but you can't- it's illegal and it's viewed as concealment- plain and simple- if they allowed it for fruits and veggies you could argue you should be able to do it for meats-and it would not work.

 

SInce so much meat is taken (I worked in my state and my neighboring state in theft prevention so I know the issue and the laws-they are the same in both)-it is a real big deal- thus clear bags all over. You may have all the good intentions you want but they will not change the law over this-it would be a hugh can of worms. You often see grocery store retail theft in our papers. Concealment is very real and they don't take kindly to it.

 

IF you place ANY item in your own bag/container-even if you can see it, it is still concealment- you can be stopped and charged-their argument is you are being provided with a bag-ONCE you pay that is different-not prior.

 

I don't buy produce at a mainstream market, I was talking about mainstream markets- smaller places frankly are worse on the issue in my area- even at the FM you don't dare put items into your own bag until you paid for them.

 

 

It really doesn't matter if you PLAN to pay or not- no one else knows that for sure- any bag, etc that is your or not provided by the store and you can't use the check-out bags either, is not something you want to do. Clear bags are not just to a make it easy to scan the stuff. When you place prior to payment it is viewed a concealing. 

In my state they take retail theft as a big deal- they jail you (depending on the area) if it's even $100.00 -this state is really crazy about it

 

if it works in your state great-just don't try in in all states

 

   Presumptions. Any person purposely concealing unpurchased merchandise of any store or other retail mercantile establishment, either on the premises or outside the premises of such store or other retail mercantile establishment, shall be prima facie presumed to have so concealed such merchandise with the intention of depriving the merchant of the possession, use or benefit of such merchandise without paying the full retail value thereof, and the finding of such merchandise concealed upon the person or among the belongings of such person shall be prima facie evidence of purposeful concealment; and if such person conceals, or causes to be concealed, such merchandise upon the person or among the belongings of another, the finding of the same shall also be prima facie evidence of willful concealment on the part of the person so concealing such merchandise.

06-14-2012 12:22 PM
P.J.
Quote:
Originally Posted by serenbat View Post

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

 

I would still try the mesh bag. If you put the veggies ~in the see-through bag~ on the belt then it is beyond obvious that you want to BUY them. If they try to call the cops so be it, just calmly explain that you are trying to reduce, reuse, etc....and if they still make a stink then call your local press and make a big deal out of it. Hell, maybe you'll start a wave of action and those mesh bags will become at least acceptable if not downright trendy!

 

As for bacteria and hygiene, a great trick is to bathe all your produce in a vinegar wash. I use the cheapest vinegar available and fill a big mixing bowl with water and a few splashes of vinegar and set the produce in it for about 10 minutes then rinse. No taste of vinegar remains. It removes about 99% of bacteria, some pesticide residue and kills any mold spores ~meaning volatile fruit like peaches and berries stay fresh way longer. Woohoo!

06-12-2012 01:17 PM
angelarose1 I always keep the mesh bags that pre-bagged produce items sometimes come in, like lemons and oranges. I have so many of them collected over the years and people often ask me where I got them , which is funny to me. They assume I purchased them somewhere as opposed to reusing the bags that are normally thrown away. I like the bags better than plastic because they don't tear as easily and are breathable. Also when loading produce on a conveyor, I strategically place items so that things like lettuce don't touch the belt. Also I triple rinse the lettuce in a big bowl after washing once with super duper diluted soap:)
06-12-2012 10:15 AM
Mama Ana

http://www.etsy.com/blog/en/2010/how-tuesday-how-to-make-plarn-crochet-an-eco-friendly-tote-b/

 

i think that's a cool idea.

06-12-2012 08:49 AM
foreverinbluejeans

I put most produce like apples in my cart without bags. I usually use the self check out so it doesn't matter. If the bags don't get torn I use them for doggy doo doo bags. That bugs me too. Doggy doo doo (or baby poop) doen't belong in our trash in plastic bags. When I had my own house I would flush my little dog's and cat's doo doo. I scooped it into a little bucket and put in the toilet. The cat litter pan was next to the toilet with pine litter and as soon as I smelled that the cat went I would flush it. There was never kitty doo doo in the pan. Back 30 years ago we were told to try and get baby poop out of disposable diapers and flush it away. Now I hear concern about the diapers problem (not often enoug) but not so much about all the poop. Imagine how much dog doo doo is in the trash. It would be better to leave it on the ground (somewhere out of the way of people) to decompose. Oh well, off topic.

06-12-2012 07:43 AM
illuci

I know this is not exactly a response to how to reuse those plastic bags, but if you are able to just forget them all together, then here is a link to a cool idea...

 

http://www.motherearthnews.com/Do-It-Yourself/Make-Reusable-Produce-Bags.aspx

 

Also, I work at a food co-op, and we carry reusable produce bags in various sizes made  by mothering Mother. You can order them online, or see if your local co-op or grocer could get them in the store.

06-11-2012 07:49 AM
EnviroBecca

We take the plastic produce bags from the store.

 

If they are yucky after use (like lettuce got slimy) or torn, they get stuffed into our bag of recyclable plastic bags.  Our supermarket has a bin outside that accepts produce bags as well as the shopping bags.

 

If they are clean and intact, we reuse them.  We just tuck them into one of our big canvas shopping bags, and then when shopping for produce we dig in the canvas bags to find produce bags, taking new ones only if we don't have any old ones with us.

 

The store where we buy bulk foods allows you to use your own container; you weigh it and write its weight on the label, and then they subtract that from the total weight so that you pay only for your food.  We use jars, etc., that other foods came in.  So we take bags for bulk foods only if there's an awesome sale that we didn't know about so we don't have enough containers for it.

06-09-2012 04:49 PM
emelsea

I got a set of 4 mesh, drawstring bags at the dollar store.  They were meant for corralling stuff in the car, but they are exactly the same size as the plastic produce bags at my grocery store.

 

My grandmother used to reuse EVERY plastic bag that crossed her path.  Bread bags were used again to hold sandwiches in Grandpa's lunch (she closed them with a recycled twist tie), and somewhere along the line she decided that the plastic bag her newspaper was delivered in was the perfect size to take to the grocery store to hold her romaine lettuce.  That used to freak me out a bit, because of the ink, but she lived well into her 80's, so I guess it was fine.  When she came to visit, she always had a giant tote bag (you know those woven plastic ones most people take to the beach?) full of the food from her fridge.  She didn't like to leave food in the fridge when she was going to be gone.  All that food was wrapped up in old bread bags and newspaper baggies.  HEAVEN HELP the person who threw one away!  They had to be washed out and dried on chopsticks and reused!  My grandpa put his foot down when she tried to repair torn baggies with scotch tape.  

06-08-2012 12:05 PM
cat13

OK, you all officially encouraged me to get some mesh bags. We have nothing in the way of stores around here, so I got some on amazon. Thanks for the idea! 

06-08-2012 07:15 AM
ollyoxenfree
Quote:
Originally Posted by cat13 View Post

 

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. 

 

 

 

Quote:
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. 

 

06-07-2012 09:10 PM
dancingflower

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.

06-07-2012 06:24 PM
Youngfrankenstein

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.

06-07-2012 01:56 PM
cat13

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!

06-07-2012 11:46 AM
CI Mama

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?

06-07-2012 11:43 AM
Just1More
Quote:
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.

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? 

06-06-2012 04:23 PM
serenbat
Quote:
None of the stores around here weigh meats on the checkout scale. I' ve never actually seen that.

http://www.ebay.com:80/itm/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&_trksid=p4340.l2557&item=260813887055&nma=true&rt=nc&si=4crdSyDREahw8z5Wwgg9AoFs1bs%253D&orig_cvip=true&rt=nc

 

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

 

06-06-2012 12:43 PM
motherhendoula

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!

06-06-2012 12:30 PM
Buzzer Beater

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.

06-06-2012 10:42 AM
serenbat
Quote:
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

06-06-2012 10:35 AM
CI Mama

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.

06-06-2012 09:58 AM
Buzzer Beater
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cyllya View Post

 

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.

06-06-2012 09:08 AM
annaknitsspock

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. 

06-06-2012 08:23 AM
ollyoxenfree
Quote:
Originally Posted by serenbat View Post

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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