Go Green in 2018: Try Something New!

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.

Earthwise Produce BagsThese 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:

Check out the linkups at Hearth & Soul and To Grandma’s House We Go! for more ideas for better living.

6 thoughts on “Go Green in 2018: Try Something New!

  1. I’ve been giving a lot of thought as to what more I can do, and was especially alarmed/motivated when I read this CBC article that indicated that (here in Canada, at least) much of our recycling could soon simply become trash: http://www.cbc.ca/radio/thecurrent/the-current-for-december-26-2017-1.4462065/your-recycling-could-become-trash-the-golden-age-of-recycling-is-coming-to-an-end-1.4462101
    I’ve decided I’m going to do even more of my shopping at my local bulk foods store (bringing my own containers), so as to further reduce the amount of packaging we generate. I also want to switch back to bar soap from the foaming soap we currently use. Although I do make my own foaming soap and re-use the dispensers, this still involves the purchase of castile soap in plastic bottles, whereas bar soap can be purchased without any packaging at all (and seems to last forever, to boot!). I also want to look into bamboo (or other compostable) toothbrushes.
    As you might remember, I’ve been using reusable produce bags for quite a while (made from stashed curtain lace), but this Christmas I bought a set of nylon mesh produce bags for my university-aged-daughter, who is resolving to do even more this year as well 🙂 .

    • Yes, reducing packaging really has more of an impact than recycling it! Can you get bulk castile soap? We refill our bottles at our co-op store. They get large bottles (5 gallons?) but I suppose those have to be recycled…maybe they’re refilled?…and Dr. Bronner’s does make their bottles from 100% post-consumer recycled plastic. I find that bar soap doesn’t hold up well for us if it’s in a soap dish. We put it in a hanging mesh bag in the shower.

      I’ll be interested to hear how compostable toothbrushes work out for you. My experience has been that sticks from the yard take more than a year to decompose and tend to injure me as I turn the compost. The so-called compostable plastic does not seem to decay at all in the composting conditions I have at home–maybe it works in a big municipal composter.

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