One of my favorite switches I made when going Zero Waste was using cotton/mesh bags instead of plastic bags. The first time I did this I was a little nervous, I had never seen anyone else do it before and I didn’t know what to expect. But to my surprise the cashiers at my regular grocery store loved it! I made my own bags (you can get some here). Everyone responded saying it was so cool that I cared enough to do that and that all of my bags were super cute! I felt really good after! It was so nice to get some encouraging feedback. When I got home and put all of my groceries away I felt different. It took me a minute to realize what this feeling was, but it was a feeling of relief. When I was done I just put my bags back in the drawer. I didn’t have to collect 15+ produce bags and another 5-10 plastic sacks to throw in the garbage or recycling. There was no mess. It felt like I just treated my food with respect for the first time. I honestly think plastic has it’s place, but around my food is not one of them. However, I still do buy a few things in plastic (remember, I’m not perfect!) but I’ll save that for another post.
So this is what a small portion of my shopping cart looked like today. If you don’t have reusable bags, can’t afford them, or just don’t want to use them – a great alternative is no bag at all. You are going to wash all of your produce when you get home anyway, so just throw it in the cart or basket. I do this when I forget my bags, and sometimes even if I have them. You can see in the pic below that I didn’t bag my onions, garlic, avocados, green onions, cabbage or watermelon. I usually only bag things like potatoes, apples, kale, spinach, and things I have multiples of. I still don’t understand why people would put bananas or a pineapple in a plastic bag, but I see it all the time. Just throw it in the cart!
I try my very best when I am shopping but I occasionally do get things like twist ties and rubber bands on my produce. I simply just reuse them when I need these things. I the rubber bands that come on my green onions to go around the top of my kombucha jars to hold the cloth on. I just do my best and try to reuse the trash I do happen to gather. That’s really all you can do.
The last thing I do when I shop is bring my reusable tote bags! I keep a stash of them in my car, but when I forget I usually just have them throw it all back in the cart unbagged. This isn’t always convenient for me because I often have a 4 year old in tow, but in the case I need bags, I ask for paper. Paper bags can be reused over and over too! I reuse them as much as I can for things like grocery bags (ha ha!), donating to thrift stores, giving things away, and lately I’ve been shredding them after they are worn out to use as cushion for my online shops if needed.
Do you have any problems shopping plastic free? Are you afraid to? I know I was at first… I’d love to hear from everyone about this!