Plastic bags may be illegal in some states, cities, and countries; however, single-use plastic produce bags are still prevalent. 1 This is an area I personally struggle with remembering to take the washed plastic bags back to the store. I reluctantly grab new ones for some items, others I just take without a bag.
Single-use plastic bags are one of the greatest environmental pollution problems on Earth. One cannot walk along a city street or drive on a country road without seeing bags that have been discarded inappropriately. They blow around like modern tumbleweeds (remember the scene from American Beauty).
Recycling the single-use bags is often challenging and not the solution. Our local recycling center quit accepting plastic bags years ago. I save them and drop them off at a chain grocery store, yet I wonder if they are ending up in the landfill. The process to recycle plastic bags is expensive and more time
The Problem with Biodegradable Plastic Produce Bags
Many people believe using biodegradable plastic bags is good for the environment. In fact, most health food stores and natural food
According to Mother Jones:
Can biodegradable plastics break down in landfills? This claim, which now shows up on everything from water bottles to trash bags to Discover’s “biodegradable PVC” credit cards, is “disingenuous at best,” says Narayan. Usually, nothing biodegrades in a landfill. But if biodegradable plastics do break down in this oxygen-free environment, they’ll emit methane, a greenhouse gas 23 times more potent than CO2.Mother Jones
Plus, biodegradable plastic bags are not supposed to be put in the same recycling bins with other bags.3 The produce bags I get at our local coop are biodegradable, so that means I am not supposed to put them in the recycling bin at the chain store. There’s really nothing to do with them! They aren’t going in my compost bin, and our community does not offer composting facilities for plastic. The only proper way to dispose of biodegradable bags is composting.
Biodegradable plastic bags only breakdown when exposed to oxygen, not the confines of a landfill. That’s great for the stray bags that litter our highways and cities; however, there is no responsible way to get rid of them. Consider what the BBC says about biodegradable plastic produce bags:
Biodegradable plastics take three to six months to decompose fully. That’s much quicker than synthetic counterparts that take several hundred years. Exactly how long a biodegradable bag takes to break down depends on various factors, such as temperature and the amount of moisture present.
But the bags aren’t always as environmentally friendly as they seem. They’re made from similar petrochemical-based materials to conventional plastic, only with compounds added that cause them to disintegrate gradually in the presence of light or oxygen. They often then degrade into a sludge of toxic chemicals.BBC Science Focus
Biodegradable plastic produce bags are still designed for single-use. Even if you reuse them several times, they are not the most eco-friendly solution.
The more you wash and reuse plastic designed for single-use, the more it beings to break down. All of this plastic is ending up in our food and our bodies. Plastic has been found in our poop. According to a recent study:
THE RESULTS SHOW THAT EVERY SINGLE STOOL SAMPLE TESTED POSITIVE FOR THE PRESENCE OF MICROPLASTIC AND UP TO NINE DIFFERENT PLASTIC TYPES WERE IDENTIFIED.2
Finally, an Eco-Friendly Solution to Plastic Produce Bags
I have tried several organic cloth produce bags in the past. I really like to take them backpacking, as the kale does not get slimy in them when not refrigerated. The problem I have is remembering to take all of them with me to the store, as well as simply having enough.
We were sent Veggie to Fridge cloth bags in a variety of options: Golden Palm and Copper Beech. What I really like about the Veggie to Fridgie cloth produce bags is the abundance of bags you get for the price, as well as the snap-fit pouches and bag.
The Golden Palm contains 8 bags of various sizes in addition to the larger carrying bag and sells for $14.99! The snaps are super convenient. The larger snap bag includes partitions to hold many different produce items.
The Copper Beech costs $9.99. This large bag has partitions so you can do your shopping in one bag.
According to the manufacturer:
We believe our product will make a huge impact on reducing the single-use plastics used at
store. We noticed that a lot of times, eco-friendly folks bring reusable bags but still end up using clear plastic bags at the produce section. Our innovative bag tackles that problem with snap-fit pouches (for produce) which has three foldadvantage:
1. Reduce plastic usage at the Produce and at checkout
2. Reduce wastage at home, as
3. Produce in pouches directly
gothe refrigerator ( veggies tend to have a better life in the pouches 🙂
One complaint I have heard from friends is that cloth bags do not have as fresh as plastic. Recently a friend posted a photo of his fridge full of greens for a cleanse, but everything was in plastic! When I commented, he said, “The veggies wilt super fast… I’m using the green space plastic bags that slow down the rotting of veggies. I love them and reuse them a lot by washing them out.” It just seemed so contrary to his diet plans. Veggie to Fridgie has a simple solution.
Veggie to Fridgie cloth produce bags are super easy to use. They go straight from the store to the fridge and reduce your plastic bag footprint by 500 a year! Before placing the fresh veggies and fruits in the fridge, spritz or sprinkle the bags with water (don’t soak). This will keep the produce fresh for a one to two weeks depending on which bags you get. You can repeat the sprinkle every few days and not experience wilted veggies.
One aspect of these cloth bags I love is how easy they are to wash. They are machine washable which simplifies reuse. I hate washing single-use plastic bags and trying to get them to dry. Plus, they make the kitchen look messy hanging about on counters.
The impact of switching to cloth produce bags is huge! Imagine the significance if every human on the planet reduced their consumption of single-use plastic like produce bags.
“It’s just one plastic bag, one plastic spoon, one plastic container” – 7.7 billion people
Veggie to Fridgie cloth produce bags