Plastic bags are one of the easiest and most obvious steps to living a more sustainable life, but how many of us go to the grocery store without thinking of all the waste that goes into the canvas bags. If you don’t already have reusable grocery totes, get them – your city may be banning them soon anyway, then I recommend going one step further and buying some reusable produce bags.
I have two brands of reusable produce bags, and they were one of the first changes I made on my new sustainable journey. I purchased a set of 12 bags from EcoKeeps and then a friend gifted me a set from Earthwise.
I love that the EcoKeeps bags are a thick material with a thin mesh knit and the drawstring and clamp to ensure everything stays secure. They also come in a multipack with varied sizes so you can use them for anything from two apples to a multiple ears of corn. While I have only used them for produce thus far, they can also be used at bulk bins for beans, rice, and grains. They also have the tare weight on the tag of the bags, so you can tell your checker and you won’t get charged extra for your sustainable choice.
I’ve cleaned my bags a few times when they get grimy and find the best trick is to clean my sink, then soak them in a little warm soapy water, and then rinse them thoroughly. (If anyone has tips on how to clean the EcoKeeps bags I would greatly appreciate it, as I don’t want to waste too much water in an effort to cut back on plastic.) After I rinse them out I just drape them in my drying rack so they don’t go musty. I have found they can get a little stained by leafy greens, but that has never really bothered me.
The Earthewise bags are a lot lighter and more transparent. I have encountered a little difficulty with the EcoKeeps bags because it can be hard so see what specific type of produce is in the bag, but this definitely isn’t a problem with the bags from Earthwise. The Earthwise bags do feel slightly less durable due to the thin quality of the fabric, but one huge bonus is that they are machine washable.
Overall, I prefer the pack from EcoKeeps, but either way, I always try to remember to bring my bags with me when I go to the store. I keep them all stored in one of the larger bags and bring them all with me every time I shop. When I first started using my produce bags, I’d only bring five or six at a time thinking I didn’t buy that much produce. I would recommend bringing more than you think you need, it isn’t noticeably heavier to carry 10 instead of 5 and it will mean using less plastic overall.
I would not recommend using these bags when getting packaged meat since porous bags are not going to keep drippings from getting on the rest of your groceries. Also, be sure to shake your produce well before putting them in the bags. One time my pant legs got pretty damp from some broccoli that had been sprayed right before I picked it out and so some moisture transferred from the bag.
Overall, I’m extremely happy with these bags, they are a cheap and convenient way to make a first step towards cutting back on plastic, how can you go wrong?