So you head to the grocery store armed with your reusable shopping bags, but standing in the fresh produce section the only bag options seem to be of the clear plastic variety. Faced with a dilemma, you don’t really want to wrap your organic fruits and veggies in bird and sea turtle-choking plastic. Then again, you don’t want the checkout clerk to give you the evil eye again as half a dozen apples go rolling all over the checkout counter conveyor belt. What to do? Let me introduce you to reusable produce bags.
Reusable bags are no longer just for your groceries, there are a number of brands out there designed for keeping those unruly veggies and fruits organized. Most bags are made using recycled PET (recycled plastic bottles), organic cotton muslin or organic cotton mesh.
There are mesh varieties, which make it easier for the cashier to see what’s in them, and solid varieties that offer attractive motifs. They are all generally compact, lightweight and, most importantly, reusable!
Looking to buy a few? Here are some retailers of reusable produce bags:
Reuseit.com – Along with any number of ecologically minded products, these guys have a number of produce bags that they sell. The website provides product details as well as customer reviews.
Grass roots – A Canadian based company that sells a couple of varieties of reusable bags, including a very economical mesh produce bag (CAD$1.95 for a pack of 10).
Credobags – A retail company in Canada and the US that provides a very presentable gift pack of four reusable produce bags. They’re a bit more expensive though.
Don’t want to buy a reusable produce bag? Just make your own! Even if the thought of using a sewing machine sends you into fight or flight response, making mesh produce bags are a simple DIY sewing project. Here are some simple steps to follow:
- Find a light type of netting such as organic cotton mesh. How much you need will depend on how many bags you are using and how big you plan on making them. A medium sized bag would be about 8×11 inches finished, large would be 10×13 inches and extra-large 11×15 inches all sewn up. Remember to account for a 1/4” seam along the sides and a ¾” pocket along the top for the drawstring. So for a single medium-sized bag you would need to cut a rectangle that is 8.5×23.5 inches.
- Fold the cut rectangle in half and sew up the two sides. You should now have a bag with an open top and the folded edge forming the bottom of the bag. Turn the open top over a ¾”. If you can iron the material, this will help keep it’s form while you pin and sew.
- Sew ¼” up from the bottom of the folded top edge so that you leave a half inch pocket to put a drawstring through. Start on an edge seem so that you also end on that edge seam.
- You now have a fully completed circle at the top, so you will need to unpick some stitches in order to make a hole for the drawstring. Find a suitable drawstring and feed it through. Done!
This is obviously very simple, so please play with the design and come up with your own modifications. Who knows, maybe a DIY project like this could lead to a new green business?
See how this creative person made her own bags:
Whether you choose to buy them or make them, you can spread the word about reusable produce bags. In fact, next time you give a gift, think about wrapping it in one of these – a gift within a gift!