Paper? Or Plastic? Neither.

As I strolled down the produce section a big head of broccoli caught my eye. It was green, it was large, and it looked delicious! I quickly grabbed the most beautiful one. (Like, someone was going to fight me for a head of broccoli….lol) As I walked over to the white roll of plastic disposable produce bags it hit me….”How many of these do I use a week?” My husband and I eat a primarily plant based diet so the answer was a lot.

So we decided to make a change and bring our own produce bags to off set plastic waste. About 500 billion plastic bags are used worldwide every year! Every year! It can take hundreds of years for some of those bags to decompose. Hundreds of years! Not to mention they can devastate ecosystems and harm mammals and creatures alike. Look at the sea turtle. Plastic bags are responsible for and average of 1,000 sea turtle deaths a year. A 1,000 a year! Not only that but plastic can seep micro-toxins into the earth and the air.

But are paper bags a better option? “Compared to paper grocery bags, plastic grocery bags consume 40 percent less energy, generate 80 percent less solid waste, produce 70 percent fewer atmospheric emissions, and release up to 94 percent fewer waterborne wastes, according to the (Film and Bag) federation.” So what can we do to produce less plastic waste from grocery bags and use less natural resources than a traditional paper bag. Well, here are some alternatives. Remember, not all these alternatives are perfect. There a pros and cons to all suggestions and some still produce micro-toxins. However, these options produce less than then the traditional plastic or paper bag options.


Reusable Bags?

I put this first because there is a lot of debate around whether reusable bags are actually good for the environment. I have found mixed opinions. And not all bags are equal. The important lesson here is how important it is to do your own research to find the most comfortable option for you. There are 3 popular types of reusable bags; cotton, polyester tote, and polypropylene bag.

Up-cycled Cloth

Up-cycled cloth is great for carrying produce. You can even make your own produce bag from up-cycled cloth.  You’ll want to wash your cloth with eco soap before using it on food.  You can use an old t-shirt, sheet, towel, or left over material from a project. Regardless, you are reusing something that may have just been thrown away.

Don’t Use A Bag

While, this might not be viable for everyone it will save the earth from a lot of plastic waste. My husband and I do this when we forget to bring a bag to the grocery store with us. We wash our produce before using it anyway.

Use a Bamboo Basket

Bamboo is a very sustainable wood. You can find bamboo baskets online but you might have to do some digging to find the right size for your needs.


Up-Cycle a Backpack

Got an old back-pack or gym bag just laying around the garage or hidden in your closet? Re-purpose it by using it to hold your groceries. Sure, you may get some weird looks but who cares?

Shop Local

When you shop local you off set the amount of natural resources used in shipping and mass production. Also, you tend to get veggies and fruits that are made organically and you help support the local economy and community.

Grow Your Own Food

Having a garden, indoor or outdoor, will help offset the demand of grocery bags and the use of fossil fuels needed to ship, produce, and package food you would normally buy in the grocery store. Even just growing your own herbs will help. Little changes can make big differences.


Disclaimer: Information expressed in this article is solely the opinion of the writer. The writer is not held liable for any damage or health concerns resulting from information or endorsement from this article. If in doubt, always contact a health professional before using a new product on yourself or others.

*Article not sponsored by suggested companies.



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