You probably don’t need me to tell you that plastic is detrimental to the environment, but I’m guessing you may be overlooking a big contributor to plastic waste. When you go grocery shopping, you’ve probably noticed that many grocers have banned plastic bags at checkout. However, there are still rolls upon rolls of produce bags available for your fruits and veggies. While it’s great that many of you are now bringing your own grocery bags, it’s time to reconsider using plastic produce bags.
As an eco-conscious shopper and former health foods store cashier, one of my biggest pet peeves is when people who bring their own reusable grocery bags are still using a dozen plastic bags for their produce. Taking several new plastic produce bags with each shopping trip is just as bad as forgetting reusable grocery bags, since produce bags often end up in the trash. These bags eventually make their way to landfills and/or the ocean, which creates a problem when it takes months to hundreds of years for a plastic bag to decompose completely.
Although plastic grocery bags have been ousted, produce bags are still offered. Each time people go to the grocery store, shoppers often keep produce separate (and out of dirty carts and baskets) by using plastic produce bags. I’ve noticed that some shoppers use paper bags instead of plastic for their produce, while others bring their own canvas or mesh bags for produce instead of plastic bags. Clearly, using biodegradable paper bags is better for the environment than using plastic bags. However, just as bringing your own grocery bags is better than using paper bags, bringing your own produce bags is better as well.
To keep in mind next time you’re grocery shopping:
- Don’t use a produce bag for fruits and vegetables with inedible skins such as citrus fruits, avocados, and bananas.
- Try Eco Bags, Steward Bags, or Chico Bags instead of plastic for other produce
- Use a paper bag as a last resort.
Photo credit: MissProduce and jaagerlecoultre via Flickr