Until about a year ago, when grocery shopping, I would take a separate plastic bag for my apples, bananas, carrots, and all other types of fruits and veggies. I would come home with a dozen plastic bags, more than I could ever use for collecting garbage or other reuse purposes. When I started my plasticminimalism project I documented my plastic waste every weekend. I was shocked to find that a large share of my plastic footprint consisted of the plastic produce bags that you get when buying fruit and veggies. I immediately started to work on this problem. I found that it is actually very easy to avoid this kind of plastic consumption. Read here how I got rid of plastic around my fruit and veggies. And then share this article and win a set of reusable Re-Sack produce bags!
First of all, ask yourself whether the product you are buying really needs a plastic bag. The most obvious example are bananas. This delicious fruit comes in perfectly designed packaging. The banana peel protects a banana against dirt. Also, bananas come in convenient bunches, they stick together naturally, so there is no need for a bag to keep them together as there would for example be in the case of mushrooms. So next time you find yourself in the produce corner of your supermarket, think twice before you let your bananas suffocate in a plastic bag. This also goes for other veggies that are easy to handle without a bag, such as pumpkin, squash and (red) cabbage. Just put the price tag on the product itself. A bag is really not necessary.
Sometimes you find yourself in a situation where you really want to buy those mushrooms, cherry tomatoes or strawberries but you did not bring your reusable bag. Or you are decided to do grocery shopping in a (Chinese) supermarket where they won’t let you buy fruit and veggies without putting them in a plastic bag. In such cases, try to reduce plastic as much as you can. The easiest way to do so is to put more than one product in each bag and let the shop attendant put all the price tags on that one bag. Also, check whether the store offers paper bags instead of plastic bags. Although there are debates about the sustainability of paper bags versus plastic bags, we can be sure that paper bags decompose much faster and cause less harm in nature than plastic bags.
Besides not putting your bananas in a plastic bag and having multiple products in one plastic bag, another very easy and effective way to produce less plastic waste is to reuse. If you do take plastic bags in the supermarket, save them and take them with you on your next shopping occasion. This also goes for paper bags. Ideally, in order to get rid of plastic altogether, use reusable plastic-free bags. When I set out on my plastic-free journey I got myself a set of Re-Sacks. These organic cotton bags are fair-trade made in India. I use them for anything that needs a bag: strawberries, cherry tomatoes, beans, nuts, oats, bread, you name it. Sure I felt a little weird when using them for the first time. However, very soon I realized that everyone loves them (“beautiful material”, “so convenient!”, “where did you get them?”) and also that my reusable bags started many conversations in supermarkets and other places about the adverse effect of plastic and what we can do to reduce our plastic footprint.
If you do reuse the plastic or paper produce bags that you get in the store make sure to reuse as many times as possible. Finally, make sure you dispose of it properly. There are big differences in waste management among countries and cities around the world. For example, in Beijing (where I am living at the moment) households don’t seem to separate waste into plastic, paper, glass at all. In my district there is no formal waste separation. However, entrepreneurs with cargo bicycles search for plastic bottles and other kinds of waste materials, organize and sell it. It’s an informal way of waste management. In my hometown in the Netherlands, on the contrary, the municipality provides households with large plastic garbage bags to collect their plastic waste. Yet in The Hague (the city we lived in before moving to China) and (parts of) Amsterdam, you have to ride your bike to a plastic waste recycling point that are distributed around the city. Make sure to check with your municipality how to recycle your plastic.
Now you have a chance to start using reusable bags too, because Re-Sack kindly donated two sets of Re-Sacks! Each sets consists of a Re-Sack Net, a Re-Sack Small, and a Re-Sack Voile. Because sending Re-Sacks across the planet would not really be a sustainable act, only those living in Europe can take part in the giveaway.
This is how you enter the drawing:
Leave a comment below in which you let us know how you would use a Re-Sack bag on Plastic-Free Tuesday. And a way to get in touch with you.
We will choose a winner by the end of July, so there is plenty of time to share this giveaway with your friends and family.
Update: We have two winners! You can no longer enter the drawing. Check whether you have won here.