This year, we want to make a conscious effort to reduce our plastic waste. It has been a learning process and while it’s not always easy (sometimes we forget our glass bottles when we buy boba milk teas, but that’s okay!), we want to be open about the process as well as share simple ways you can make more conscious efforts in your everyday life too.
Since grocery shopping is an activity most of us do weekly, we thought it’d be a practical place to start incorporating plastic-free practices. Introducing, reusable produce bags – a simple switch that’ll save millions of plastic bags from traveling into landfills. They’re easy to use, super lightweight, clutter-free, machine-wash friendly, and long-lasting. Reusable produce bags are available in cotton, canvas, mesh, or netted drawstring bags, and most are compostable or recyclable at the end of their life cycle. We got our bags from ECOBAGS, Simple Ecology, and Earth Junky.
Before Usage: Make note of each bag’s tare weight. The ‘tare weight’ is the weight of an empty container, and will be subtracted from your total amount paid. This makes sure you are only paying for the food inside the bag. Most reusable produce bags will have tare weight labeled on the tags. If they don’t (e.g. glass jars), you can get them weighed with the cashier before filling your bags.
How We Use Our Reusable Produce Bags
Fruits, vegetables, and other produce. No longer will you be struggling with those sticky plastic bags at the store – plus, you’ll be reducing large amounts of plastic waste. Reusable bags are available in many different sizes so there’s one to fit each of your produce. Cotton bags are great for delicate, leafy greens because they are better for retaining moisture. Mesh bags are great for starchy vegetables such as potatoes, corn, peas, carrots, and beets.
Bulk Food. We love using our cotton/canvas bags to purchase foods such as rice, quinoa, beans, nuts, coffee, and other small grains. This has made a huge difference in our waste reduction as we’re no longer purchasing foods packaged in non-recyclable plastics. Another perk is having the option to buy as little or as much as you need, reducing food waste.
A list of bulk food grocery markets in Los Angeles: Cookbook Market, Co-Opportunity Natural Foods, Rainbow Acres, Sprouts, Whole Foods, and of course, tons of farmers markets.
Please be aware, some markets don’t allow the usage of your own containers (make sure to ask before you do so!). In these situations, give the plastic baggies a longer life span and reuse them until they are deemed unusable. When you’re ready to recycle the plastic bag, check with your local municipal recycling facility to confirm if they accept plastic bags. Then, before throwing them in the recycling bin, knot each bag, and gather all the plastic bags into one large one. It’ll help with the sorting process.
One last tip: Use smaller sized reusable produce bags to store snacks, lunches, and other traveling essentials, while helping to eliminate the use of Ziploc bags. According to the EPA, in 2014, over 33 million tons of plastic ended up in our landfills –– only 9.4% of them were actually recycled. Plastic bags can take up to 500 years to decompose and potentially leech into the soil and water. By using reusable produce bags, you are making a huge positive impact for the environment, our planet, and all the animals that live here.
Do you try to limit your plastic waste when grocery shopping too? Know any stores that sell bulk food items in your area? Please share with us in the comments below!
Jennifer and Vivian