Happy new year! This is a great time to start a new habit to make a little less garbage, use a little less energy, or otherwise reduce your environmental impact.
I made my new year’s resolution on a sudden whim when I was in the supermarket on December 30, stocking up on fresh produce after we returned from our Christmas travels.
We’ve been reusing the plastic produce bags that grocery stores provide: After we use the produce, the bag goes into one of our reusable shopping bags. Next time we’re shopping and need a produce bag, we grab one out of the shopping bag. We only take new plastic bags when we run out of old ones. We don’t recycle them until they get torn. (Well, sometimes a vegetable spoils and makes its bag so completely disgusting that we can’t wash it out for reuse. But we try to avoid that!)
I have to admit, though, that those thin plastic bags don’t hold up to very many uses, especially when pointy vegetables like sweet potatoes are involved. I haven’t kept records on how many uses we get from one bag, but I’d estimate that the average is 3. That means we’re discarding a lot of plastic bags–and, while recycling is better than tossing them in the landfill, plastic recycling uses lots of energy and creates lots of pollution.
So, this year I’m going to try reusable produce bags! Rather than over-think the purchase, which might lead to my (again) not getting around to it, I impulsively bought the bags that were available in the Giant Eagle produce department.
These bags are made of nylon mesh, similar to the zippered bags I use for small/delicate items in the washing machine. But instead of zippers, these bags close with drawstrings. I’m a little concerned about how that’s going to work out when I put the bags on the conveyor belt at check-out: Could a drawstring get caught under the belt? Maybe I’ll tuck them into the inside of the bag.
My first step is to wash these bags before use. I think I’ll put them inside a zippered mesh bag, to prevent the drawstrings from tangling around the washing machine agitator. That seems ironic….
Then I’ll just put these bags into my shopping bag for the next grocery run. Since I’m already in the habit of reaching into the shopping bag to get a produce bag, it should be easy to remember to use these instead of plastic.
If you already use reusable produce bags–or if this isn’t the change you want to make in the new year–what is your green resolution for 2018? Here are some inspirations:
- Eat less meat.
- Start composting. This is not the wrong time of year to start! Your compost will decay slowly through the winter, then perk up in the spring, giving you free fertilizer for your flowerbeds all next summer.
- Kick the K-cups and choose a low-waste, affordable method of making coffee.
- Use greener cleaners in your home.
- Buy better milk.
- Green your hygiene routine.
- Not sure you can keep it up all year? Try a new green habit each month, or plan for a 40-day trial during Lent! (Lots of lifestyle changes are suggested in that article.)