Stop using plastic bags for vegetables!

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use mesh bags instead of plastic for produceEver insightful with her brilliant Change the World Wednesday Challenges, Small footprints is taking us to the shops this week.

As she wrote “We’ve learned to say “no” at the checkout stand … now we’re going to say “no” in the produce department”.

This is a great challenge.

2 years ago I gave up plastic carrier bags and this included the produce bags, so I’m the Queen of naked shopping!

Most plastic produce bags are made of Low Density polyethylene, which is plastic code #4. This can be recycled, so it’s not a total baddy. However, reducing our dependence on plastic products is a good move and here are some ways to gradually ditch the plastic produce bag:


If you really, really want to use the plastic produce bags then make sure you recycle them at the end of their useful life. Many large supermarkets that offer carrier bag recycling, will take back the produce bags too. Currently, only 7% of plastic is recycled but1.8 tonnes of oil are saved for every tonne of recycled polythene produced.


Instead of bringing home disposable plastic produce bags and throwing them in the bin, put them somewhere safe (with your reusable shopping bags is ideal!) and take them back to the store with you for reuse.


Instead of taking fresh bags at the shop, take a look around your home and see what you already have – frozen food bags, bread bags, cereal inners  – all of these can be stored and taken with you next time you shop. 57% of litter on beaches is plastic, so keep yours close to you and keep reusing it.

Onya weigh

This brilliant invention will get rid of plastic produce bags forever! The Onya Weigh is a tiny pouch which contains 5 strong mesh bags. They are see through and you can use them like a colander to rinse your produce! If you’re a whizz on the sewing machine, you could easily make some mini drawstring bags from muslin.

Boxes and baskets

If you don’t use a supermarket and shop at farmers markets or farms instead, it’s easy to take your own box or basket. Once a week we set off with a cardboard box to our local farm shop and just put things loose in there. We take the occasional paper bag for small things like grapes and cherry tomatoes.

Totally naked

In a supermarket, if I have to buy fruit and vegetables I don’t use any packaging at all. I just load it up on the conveyor belt. I often get asked if I want bags; like I forgot them or something, but I just say no and tell them why – you never know who is listening and might make their own changes!

What about you? How do you avoid plastic produce bags?


  1. Diane on May 26, 2010 at 8:32 am

    I remember my grandmother treasuring the small plastic bags she got from the supermarket. They’ll all be reused many times – and she’d wash them out and dry them off ensuring they were good to go. They were invaluable for us fetching fruit and veg from her garden to our home.
    I avoid taking them were possible – and I do keep them to use again and again.
    I’ve avoided taking carrier bags too – and at Tesco you are rewarded by green club card points for doing this too.
    My mission is to convince everyone to carry reusable bags and to ditch the plastic carriers.

  2. russell on May 26, 2010 at 10:00 am

    Great to see the Onya range expanding with some more great products. I tend to go naked in the supermarket now! I do get some funny looks at the checkout but why do I need a bag for them to weight a couple of carrots?! We have become a society obsessed with convenience for the sake of convenience. When it comes to the supermarket it makes me sad that I believe it is fuelled by wanting more profit. Profit over responsibility. I dream of a nationwide supermarket brand that is ethical and authentic. I think Waitrose is the closest, but unfortunately they are aiming at the more expensive end of the market pricing a lot of people out being able to shop there.

  3. Michelle on May 26, 2010 at 7:11 pm

    I popped over here from Small Footprints to see what you had to say in your entry about this, & you’ve given me some great ideas. I’m going to look in the nearest city for green options for produce because I rarely use produce bags anymore, but sometimes I just have too much produce to just carry around or I want to keep them separate from other items in the basket.

    I have a question about grapes that’re already pre-packaged in bags – it’d be silly, to me, to just leave the bags there, but often I find a package with just the right amount of grapes for me (I eat a lot of them when I buy them). I don’t like the idea of using those bags since they’re plastic, but any ideas about reusing grape bags? Anyone come up with ideas for reusing them? I’m going to try & think about some.

  4. Eco-Vegan Gal on May 27, 2010 at 8:06 am

    Thank you for writing about this – it is so important that we bring our own bags when buying produce and items in bulk! I didn’t know about Onya Weight though – checking them out right now! I also like the “totally naked” idea – I usually do this too.

  5. Mrs Green on May 31, 2010 at 9:16 am

    @Diane: Hi Diane, great mission! It’s good Tesco are making it more attractive for people to reuse bags by offering loyalty points. Sainsburys do this too. Love the story about your Grandma 🙂

    @russell: Hi Russell, lovely to see you again 🙂 I agree with you; we favour profit over anything else. I think Waitrose come close too, but like you say, they are priced out of the market for the average person 🙁

    @Michelle: Good question about the grape bags, Michelle. I guess I might reuse them for buying cherry tomatoes or other small fruits and vegetables. Apart from that I’m not sure! I try to avoid plastic too.

    @Eco-Vegan Gal: I’m glad you enjoyed the article. Keep up the great work on your own site; I love what you are doing over there 🙂

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