Every once in a while I like to discuss the ways to extend the lifecycle of something that may be deemed as not as awesome for the planet so today’s topic is produce bags. These thin, usually transparent, plastic bags have not been as aggressively marketed for replacement as their two handled take-it-home counterparts, so most of us end up coming home with a handful of them every time we hit the store.
There are designers of canvas, nylon, even woven jungle vine sacks out there who specifically create these types of bags and although I really want to remember to buy some I have yet to do so. Even me, the Greenie, ends up sometimes home with plastic.
So what do I do?
First of all I try to reuse them as long as possible AT the store. After a couple of trips I will wash them out & dry them and stick them right back in the reusable shopping bags in my car. I will do this until they spring a small hole (usually after about 5-8 trips on average depending on the volume & item placed in the bag). That way they get a good long life and I figure I save about 30 - 48 bags in total (6 bags per trip on average).
When I think that they have outlived that part of their journey I then transfer them right into my trash cans. The bathroom, office and living room in our house make use of small trash cans for convenience sake. Produce bags are like a perfect fit for these cans to protect the bucket from make up remover, food wrappers or even gum from smearing the bottom.
Because this trash is never heavy it’s alright if there is a small hole in the bag when it goes into the can. And because they are clear they don’t mess with the attractiveness of the style of the buckets. I leave them in there and just dump the trash out into our large bag until there are too many pieces of gum or other sticky things attached to the sides; that is usually after about a month. I estimate this saves an average of 3 new bags per week.
All told by utilizing these produce bags over and over again I estimate my personal plastic bag savings as about 9 per week, an average savings of about 36 bags in a month. I would like to try to start purchasing reusable produce bags in the future but for now I am proud to do what I can to make the most with what I’ve currently got.
Also I am going to try to keep an eye out to see just what kind of produce bags my store uses as I discovered The Brenmar Company while researching this article. These folks offer pre-rolled produce bags to consumer stores that completely biodegrade in 3-5 years in a landfill because they make use of oxo-biodegradation.
For more information on oxo-biodegradation.
What creative uses have you found for produce bags?