Access to nutritious food is one of the most essential needs for living well and living sustainably. I essentially live in a food desert, defined by the USDA as a low-income area where residents have low access to a grocery store or supermarket. I don’t technically live in a food desert because my closest grocery store is 1 mile away (in order to meet the food desert definition “a share of the people” need to be at least 1 mile away from a grocery store) but in all honesty the challenges of being 1.0 and 1.1 miles away from a grocery store are no different. Things were a little bit easier when I first moved to the neighborhood; we had a co-op right down the road. Unfortunately, the co-op has closed and since been replaced by a marijuana dispensary. (You know you live in Washington when there are more dispensaries than grocery stores in your neighborhood).
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 always been somewhat environmentally conscious. Growing up, my main household chore was sorting and taking out the recycling, giving me a sense of responsibility for environmentalism from a young age. I usually got to school by walking or riding a bike and drove a hybrid car to my high school, which was too far away to bike to. But after the 2016 elections, I knew I needed to step it up. Like most of my friends, I felt hopeless after November 8th, and faced with a president elect that considers climate change a hoax, I felt a duty to reduce my own carbon footprint.