How many plastic bags do you use in an average week? It may be more than you realize. Think about buying green beans or apples at the grocery store — what do you put that loose produce in? How do you bag your groceries when you leave the store? And if you bring grapes or crackers to work, what do you put those in? It’s so easy to use lots of plastic bags for food without noticing it. But cutting back on that excess plastic is completely doable with reusable alternatives.
Let’s start with the source — produce at the grocery store. Hopefully you’re eating lots of fruits and vegetables (they should be taking up half your plate at every meal!). For a while, I was going to the grocery store and farmers’ markets and feeling really good about the large variety of vegetables and fruits I’d bought for the week, yet feeling badly that everything I bought was in lots of separate plastic bags. What a waste! I did try to reuse them as much as possible, but they often got wet or sticky or tore apart. Reusable produce bags are a game-changer. These sheer mesh bags hold all the produce that I buy, and I never have to worry about throwing them out and creating waste. When they get dirty, just throw them into throw washing machine with the laundry. You can buy sets of them online at retailers like Amazon.com.
For grocery bags, recyclable paper bags are certainly preferable over non-biodegradable plastic bags. But even better are reusable tote bags. It’s pretty easy to accumulate these. They’re given out at special events all the time, or you can buy them from grocery stores. The tough thing is remembering to use them. Try to keep them by your front door, or in the trunk of the car where they are easily accessible when you’re going on a grocery run. After a few times of remembering them, it will come ingrained in your memory to bring them into the store.
I’m also a big proponent of bringing lunch and snacks to work. It saves so many dollars and calories compared to buying over-proportioned and over-priced meals out. But after munching on those carrot sticks or trail mix, the zip-locked baggies get immediately tossed in the trash. What a waste of plastic to use something for a few hours and then send it on to a landfill! Luckily, there are a lot of companies that now make reusable snack bags. My favorites are Lunchskins and Itzy Ritzy. And lots of Etsy stores sell these reusable bags. I wash these in the laundry or dishwasher after each use.
So try cutting back on plastic with reusable bags. It will keep heaps of plastic out of landfills, and will save you money in the long run!