In my ongoing effort to cut down on the use of plastic (and to keep from annoying the grocery store clerks with my piles of loose produce) I recently purchased these organic cotton mesh bags from Simple Ecology. At first, I was afraid the mesh would get caught on the rough ends of the produce…
...but his didn't prove to be a problem as the bags are very sturdy and ample size (easily fits 6 pounds of turnips with room to spare) and each has a convenient tag sewn to the outside so that the check-out clerk can credit you the weight of the bag. This is where I encountered my only problem: The woman at the counter was absolutely flummoxed by the bag and the words "tare weight." I explained it to her and she glazed over. Embarrassed by the time all this was taking, I apologized to the poor woman behind me who was probably wishing my instantaneous demise for holding up the line. The clerk went to get assistance, then had to call a manager. The manager finally just credited me fifty cents, and said that, "when more people use these, they'll just make a function button to account for them." Sigh.
It will take continued use and education for the various markets to adapt to these eco-friendly bags. I suppose using them at Farmers' Markets will be a better experience, but I usually just dump all my fruits and veg together in a big canvas bag as I move from stand to stand anyway.
I will admit that the initial expense seemed a bit steep ($14.95 for 6 bags), but if it keeps me from feeling badly for using the plastic ones at the market, I figured it was $15 well-spent. There are non-mesh canvas bags also from Simple Ecology and a similar mesh bag called the GardenSac. There are a lot of polyester mesh bags on the market, but those pretty much defeat the purpose of staying away from plastic.
How many of you have adopted reusable produce bags? Have you encountered similar issues? Have any of you made your own? I've love to see them.
(Image: Michelle Chin)