Saturday, November 14, 2009

Plastic Produce

This afternoon, the kids and I made a run into the grocery store. I hardly ever go to the grocery store on the weekend, but when I do... I'm always amazed at the difference of the weekend shoppers compared to those during the week.  The difference isn't in what they look like or if they're single or a family.  The difference is that before I had even gotten the kids out of the car, I saw 4 people pushing carts full of groceries packed in plastic bags.  And as we walked in, that's all I saw... plastic, plastic and more plastic.  During the week, it's a rarity to see a plastic bag.   I'm wondering why??

I started thinking about how in the spring, the grocery store I frequent decided to get rid of paper bags and only offer plastic bags.  Our area was a test market-- brilliant idea for a coastal community! (hardly)  Then I remembered how the baggers used to constantly ask me if I would like my meat in a plastic bag and how I would have to explain to them that my bags are washable... no plastic.

I suppose that's all a tangent... trust me, it's going somewhere.

So, today... we went to the store for lots of produce.  Back in the day, I was a bagaholic.  If produce didn't come in a bag-- besides bananas-- then I put it in one.  As time went on and I became more EnvironMental, I lessened my produce bag use.  I'd only use bags for "roll around" produce like apples, potatoes, onions, citrus fruits or loose produce like green beans.  I let the asparagus and the head lettuces rest in my cart free from plastic bags.  I felt great about using less and besides I was also reusing my plastic produce bags.  THEN... one day... on the way to the grocery store... windows down... a plastic produce bag-- that I had tucked away in my reusable shopping bags-- found it's way to the wind.  Before I could roll up the windows... it filled with air and flew out the window.  It may sound silly, but in that moment my heart sank.  "How could I be so careless?  So irresponsible??".  My kids even chimed in.
When I got to the grocery store, I didn't use one plastic produce bag and to this day still don't... no matter what I'm buying.

Putting fruit and vegies in my cart sans plastic bags is by far one of the easiest changes I've ever made.  I love looking in my cart and instead of seeing a bunch of produce through plastic, I see the colors of Romaine next to red peppers, lemons, asparagus, onions... personally, I think it's rather beautiful.  Don't believe me?  Try it next time.

Here are some helpful tips to get you started:

  • One thing that I constantly told myself is that, "It's ok for fruits and vegies to touch each other. An apple can touch a banana can touch a potato... and so forth." 
  • Every time I buy oranges or any other product that comes in a mesh bag... I keep the bag.  I cut off the bar code and reuse it.  They come in especially handy for roll around and loose produce.
  • Only getting a couple onions, apples, potatoes and don't have a bag?  Just put them in the cart.  Like I said, it looks rather beautiful seeing all the vegie and fruit colors together. If you're afraid of food touching the cart?  Don't be.  Chances are you're going to wash the produce anyway :)
  • Use one of your reusable bags to put lots of produce in (especially corn-on-the-cob).  Makes it more convenient for the cashier to pull up one bag of something instead of wrangling them from the cart ;)
  • If you're the type that likes to buy stuff... check out Reusablebags.com 
Happy shopping!