RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—Shopping is one of the biggest trash generators, at least in my life, and it makes sense on many levels to reduce the amount of packaging you bring home. But until recently I still ended up with bunches of the flimsy (and difficult to reuse) disposable plastic produce bags.
Reusable cloth bags are fine for most groceries, but for your fruits and veggies, you can do better. A few months back my friend Lynn gave me a set of sturdy, washable, nylon net produce bags and I'm hooked on them. They're easy to stash and keep with you, see-through (which makes cashiers happy when they ring up your order), the mesh is fine enough to use for most bulk dry goods (just about everything except flour), and they're machine-washable. They can go from the store right into the fridge veggie bin. Plus, after a recent study detected hormone-disrupting chemicals in all plastics out there, it's good to know my produce isn't absorbing weird chemicals while it's in the bag waiting for me to eat it.
|There are many different brands of reusable mesh produce bags available online, like these from reuseit.com. But making your own is about as simple a sewing project there is, and you can use pretty much any fabric scrap you have lying around your house (and you won't have to pay any shipping!). They may not be mesh, but retired bed linens, thin tea towels, and mismatched cloth napkins all make very serviceable cloth produce bags. If you're the really creative sort, you can even use the instructions that follow to fashion decorative fabrics or T-shirts into colorful reusable gift bags, school-supply carrying cases, travel bags—pretty much anything you need a bag for.|