Reusable bags: How do they work?
Reusable produce bags work to replace plastic produce bags and avoid the need to buy pre-packaged fruit, veg, bread and even nuts, pulses and grains.
It’s exactly the same principle as reusable bags in that you take them to the store with you and use them to bring your shopping home, minus the single-use plastic.
When you get the food home you pop it straight in the fridge or cupboards, no need to unpack as the bags are breathable so will allow food to stay as fresh as possible.
The other benefit of organic cotton bags is you know that there is no risk of harmful chemicals leaching out from the plastic into your food.
Once you have eaten the produce you can either use the bags again straight away or if they need cleaning you can just pop them in the washing machine. For many foods, you won’t need to wash the bags each time you use them, but make sure you remember to wash them every now and again to stop bacteria build up.
How to choose the best reusable produce bags
In order to love and use your produce bags they need to be fit for purpose and be easy to use.
First off, think about what you buy in plastic bags on a regular basis. Maybe you buy half a dozen apples every time you go to the supermarket, a couple of jacket potatoes, carrots, bananas, broccoli, a few parsnips, croissants for breakfast and a loaf or two of bread.
Next think about whether you really need a bag or if you just put things in a plastic bag out of habit. You probably don’t want loads of apples, or sprouts rolling around in the bottom of the trolley and on the conveyor belt, but a single lemon or a bunch of bananas that naturally come in their own packages probably don’t need a bag at all.
Bread and pastries will get bashed up and make a mess if they are not in a bag of some sort, but a head of broccoli really doesn’t need or want to be wrapped in plastic.
Once you have a list of things you are most likely to need bags for then you can decide on the best bags for the job.
Potatoes like to be stored in the dark so a cotton bag is best, cotton also absorbs any moisture which keeps the potatoes dry and will help them last longer.
Bread and pastries also prefer a solid bag, most fruit and vegetables however are better in a mesh bag. Mesh bags are easier to use at the supermarket as you can see the contents at the checkout and of course, you can see what you have when you look in the fridge.
Next up we look at stainless steel lunch boxes that can be used both for taking food with you when you go out and to store food at home.
What are reusable produce bags?
Reusable produce bags like those from A Slice of Green are the next step in making your weekly food shopping more sustainable. They are reusable, washable, bags that can replace those flimsy plastic bags you find on big rolls in the supermarket.
Reusable produce bags come in many styles and sizes, made from many different materials that will all have different lifespans. If you are handy with a sewing machine you can make your own using recycled fabric, and if not there are plenty of ready-made options available. Many like the A Slice of Green ones are made from organic cotton which is breathable, washable and chemical-free. And you can even get mesh ones made from recycled plastic bottles that are a mesh fabric and easy to see what you have inside.
Why use reusable produce bags
We’ve all got our heads around the fact that we have to either remember to take our reusable shopping bags with us when we go to the shops (or either buy new ones or load individual items into the back of the car). But so many people still use those little plastic produce bags for fruit, veg and baked goods.
Unfortuneatly these bags and the films that cover pre-packaged fruit and veg are either not recyclable or difficult to recycle, meaning that in many ways they are even worse than the carrier bags we have got used to doing without. So choosing not to use them can have a big impact on the amount of plastic waste that ends up in your bin.
Produce bags are smaller bags that you can use to stop your apples or sprouts rolling around in the bottom of your basket, negate the need for a tiny plastic bag to carry a croissant from the bakery aisle to the checkout, and allow you to consciously reduce the amount of plastic you bring home or throw away each time you shop.
If you are lucky enough to be able to buy groceries from a scoop and save or zero waste food shop you can also use these produce bags for dried goods such as rice, pasta, beans, nuts and seeds.
And even if you are just using them on our regular trip to the supermarket you can significantly cut your plastic waste, especially if you switch away from pre-packaged veg and fruit or even bread as a result.
Another great benefit of breathable produce bags is that they help keep food fresher for longer. Being in a plastic bag can cause food to sweat and go off quicker leading to more food waste as well as plastic waste. Plus there is a temptation to throw the whole lot in the bin rather than putting any gone off food in the compost and washing out the plastic so that it can be recycled.