I’ve got another question from a reader, and I promise the answer to this one won’t come in three parts like the gardening answer did.

Q: For the past year or so, I've been using reusable grocery bags in an effort to cut down on the amount of plastic bags we take in. The other day at the grocery store I brought along my usual bags and at checkout heard my husband say "you're saving the earth with these reusable bags but you've got a pound of plastic in it." The plastic he was referring to was the little bags I put the fruit and vegetables in the produce department. I've heard the conveyer belt in stores hold the most germs in the store, and I always wash my food before using, but do you have any ideas on ways to cut down the on the plastic in that department???

*Side Note: I also use these bags to prevent the various juices that often leak from the meat packages out into my bags as well.


A: There are several places that make reusable, washable produce bags. In fact, I just ordered a set of two EcoSac GardenSac Reusable Produce Bags from Greenfeet. It’s $4.95 for two of them. That’s a good price compared to some of the other produce bags I’ve seen online.

Another reasonably priced reusable produce bag that can be ordered online is the organic cotton muslin produce/snack bag from reusablebags.com.

I’ve never heard that conveyer belts are extra germy, but I suppose it makes sense. Still, I often don’t bag my produce if not bagging it is manageable. If I’m only buying two or three of a particular item like apples, potatoes or zucchini, I just group them together on the conveyer belt. It’s things like fresh green beans or a whole bunch of mushrooms that usually require some sort of bag. Whether bagged or not, produce should be washed thoroughly before eating.

Another option would be to reuse the plastic produce bags you get from the grocery store. If you take a plastic bag and use it for green beans, transfer the beans into a reusable container and set the bag aside for the next time you go to the store. The cashier isn’t going to be able to tell you are reusing a bag.

As far as the juices that leak from meats, I sometimes use the plastic bags that the store offers for them as well. It’s a food safety issue. If they aren’t too wet inside, they can always be rinsed out, dried and reused. I’d probably use a bag like that for something like cleaning out the litter box, not for putting more food in.

I did do a search for “reusable meat bags” and “reusable butcher bags” but I didn’t come up with anything. If anyone knows of a product like this, please let us know.

Image: rusvaplauke 

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

Q&A: Cutting down on plastic produce bags
A few ideas for getting rid of those plastic bags that go inside your reusable grocery bags.