Why you should use reusable cotton mesh produce bags instead of plastic ones?
Updated: Nov 25, 2019
The Environment Is In Real Trouble.
Did you know that using and discarding fourteen plastic bags does the same environmental damage as driving one mile in a gas-powered car? The typical American family goes through about 1,500 disposable plastic bags annually.
That's the equivalent of driving more than a hundred miles for no real reason. Given global warming and other environmental concerns, joy riding should be a thing of the past. So should disposable plastic grocery bags.
Most disposable bags are discarded after just twelve minutes of use. They get used to carrying groceries out to the car and then they get used to carrying them from the car into the house.
It's a shockingly poor use of global resources. It's part of a multi-million dollar "throwaway" culture that helps kill more than a hundred thousand marine animals every year.
Micro-plastics can be found all over the globe. They have contaminated soil and surface waters on a planetary scale.
We also have floating islands of plastic in our oceans where ocean currents cause plastic debris to congregate in swirling masses. Some of them are huge. The largest is twice the size of the state of Texas.
Are you horrified yet? You should be.
Our oceans are vast and deep. Most people have trouble wrapping their heads around just how big an ocean really is. Humans have been dumping refuse into waterways for probably as long as humankind has existed. However, it wasn't always a dire problem.
The refuse was readily absorbed, broken down and re-used. Not so anymore.
With 7 billion people on the planet, the vastness of our oceans is still not enough to absorb the amount of waste we are dumping. Plus, the nature of that waste has fundamentally changed in the past hundred years or so. It now contains a lot of items that don't readily break down. Plastic is one of the biggest offenders in that regard.
But What's The Good News?
The good news is that you don't have to just read such statistics and feel offended. You have the power to do something about it starting today by just making a few small changes to your lifestyle. The very first thing you should do is change your shopping habits. No, we don't mean "buy less." (Well, okay, that would help too. But let's start with baby steps if you are new to this.) We mean your literal habits surrounding how you shop. Start with using reusable bags when you shop instead of disposable ones.
Instead of getting single-use plastic bags, bring your own reusable grocery bag to the store. If you drive, it's not hard to keep one or more handy in the trunk of your car. If you walk, bike and use public transit, it's not hard to fold one up and stick it in the side pocket of a backpack, commuter bag or similar.
Many people are resistant to the idea of doing so. People tend to be creatures of habit and they find changing their habits to be hard work.
But the latest research indicates that establishing good habits isn't as hard as people think it is. You only need to make a sustained effort to change your habits for two or three or weeks.
After that, you can count on your new good habits to be the default you turn to when short on time or short of sleep instead of bad habits. Habits persist whether they are good habits or bad habits.
It isn't harder to have good habits than to have bad ones. It's only hard to change a habit, but that difficulty is relatively short-lived.
Once you've established this new habit of taking a reusable shopping bag with you, you don't have to stop there. You can further up your game. Next step: You can bring a mesh produce bag and skip the plastic produce bags found in the produce aisle.
The Next Step.
A cotton mesh bag is even more breathable than a plastic produce bag. There is a low risk of contamination with germs, like Salmonella, and they can be washed in hot water with bleach to help periodically kill everything so they remain safe.
You want to get such bags from a reusable mesh bag manufacturer. Don't think you can just re-purpose mosquito netting and sew your own. Mosquito netting is almost always inundated with pesticides which will introduce poisons to the food going on your table and into your mouth if used to cart fresh produce home.
It doesn't have to be hugely expensive. You can look for a wholesale mesh bag manufacturer and buy in bulk, then give some away to friends and family or purchase them as part of a co-operative effort.
You can shop for upcycled cotton shopping bags from individual sellers on Etsy. You can also make them yourself using old bedsheets, table cloths or similar.
A reusable grocery bag can do wonders to help reduce your carbon footprint without being a lot of hassle. It can be fun to make them yourself or support independent creatives making such and selling them in small batches.
But this is not a best practice when trying to replace disposable plastic produce bags. You really need to get one from a reusable mesh bag manufacturer. That's the only way to be sure it's not inundated with undesirable chemicals, yet still has the strength you need to do the job.
In fact, you may already have a few reusable shopping bags lying around the house. You can begin this feel-good project by gathering up any such bags you can find and assigning them to storage locations that will help support the creation of a new habit.
In addition to sticking one or more in the trunk of your car, you might consider sticking some in the kitchen, mudroom or the front coat closet. These are likely to be locations that help you remember to grab one or more before you go.
But when you decide to take the next step and replace your plastic mesh produce bag with a reusable cotton mesh bag, you probably don't have anything just laying around the house. You will need to do some shopping for such bags.
A quick search on the term "wholesale mesh bag manufacturer" may get you an online distributor. Or you might be able to find something locally.
Do What You Can. Then Relax.
Whatever you do, rest assured it's better than what the typical American family is currently doing. It's a step in the right direction.
Yes, we know that it seems like it's not enough. The environmental problems of today are vast and overwhelming. This only gets magnified in our minds by our always-on, 24/7 news cycle. But so many problems follow the 80-20 rule that it only makes sense to do whatever you can do today. Then trust that it will make more of a difference than it seems.
The world has been predicting the end of the world since at least World War II. We are still here. If we continue to problem solve and do what we can do, we will still be here tomorrow too. Tomorrow can be a brighter day. So don't give in to paralyzing depression over the state of the world. Instead, start doing what you can do. Start today with a reusable shopping bag. Then tomorrow add a reusable produce bag.