Produce bags make no sense

Earlier this week, The Climbing Daddy and I tried a new thing. We ordered groceries online and picked them up.

We knew there would be disposable bags (we use reusable) but the amount of unnecessary packaging convinced us that, except in rare circumstances, we’re not going to use this service again.

Set the stage:

  • 12 items
  • 2 refrigerated
  • 1 frozen
  • 1 glass bottle of sauce
  • 7 produce
  • 1 dry goods

Because I walked in to the store to pick it up (which, as it turns out, you’re not supposed to do), I saw the staging area. There are two refrigerators, one freezer, and a set of wire shelves.


When I arrived, they pulled a bag off the shelves, a bag out of the fridge, and a bag out of the freezer.

Three bags for 12 items.

The room temp and refrigerated bags were both paper, but both were double-bagged.

Five bags for 12 items.

The one frozen item—a bag of broccoli—was in its own plastic bag.

I thanked them, took my bags, and came home.

The jar of sauce was in a small paper bag inside of the larger grocery bags.

Six bags for 12 items.

Each produce item was in a plastic bag.

13 bags for 12 items.

This is why we won’t use this service again. (This is why we don’t use the prepped meal delivery services, either. So. Much. Trash.)

But let’s talk for a minute about produce bags.

There is a time when they’re useful. Buying loose green beans, for example. They need something to hold them.

Everything else—why do you use a bag?

I saw a man put a mini-watermelon in a plastic bag. Why?

For produce that you eat the whole thing, including the outsides, you’re going to wash them before you eat them, right? So it’s not a dirt or germs issue. (And seriously, those things have been in dirtier places than your shopping cart and have been handled by who know how many people.)

For produce that you don’t eat the outsides, some people still wash them, but most don’t care about dirt or germs on the skins, so why do you need a bag?

(There’s legitimacy in washing produce that you cut but don’t eat the exterior—like melons or avocado—something I learned when I was immunocompromised.)

Please. Stop using produce bags.

Plastic is an enormous environmental problem. It doesn’t break down. For a short while, we thought that some of it in the ocean was breaking down, but it just broke into small enough pieces that more aquatic life could eat it.

Some areas of life, plastic is difficult or impossible to get rid of. This isn’t one. Just put your produce in the cart without a bag. Even if it’s wet from the “storm.” Just put it in there. Stack the wet stuff together. You can do it.

Acquire reusable bags. While you’re at it, choose bags that are made from natural fibers. Because a reusable plastic bag is better than a single-use plastic bag, but it’s still plastic. Pick up a few smaller drawstring bags for your produce, if you can’t put 5 apples in your cart individually.

Keep them in your car.

“But I always forget them in the car!”

This used to be me until I made a rule for myself that I was not bringing disposable bags—paper or plastic—out of the store. If I forgot my reusable ones, I had to go back out and get them.

It took twice. Leave the cart in the store. Go out to car to fetch bags. Return to store and finish shopping. Pain in the ass. Learn quickly. Especially in bad weather.

Once you get in this habit, you’ll start bringing your bags shopping in places that aren’t the grocery store.

Create the habit, and report back for a pat on the back.


0 thoughts on “Produce bags make no sense”

  1. I rarely use plastic produce bags simply placing items in my cart. It’s hard through when it comes to apples when you buy a bunch. So there is a new product out there that is natural fiber, washable, and for taking to the store for such purpose. I forget the company name, but yeah, every plastic bag is a drop of oil used. Good post and people should get away from the plastic generation. Also, plastic CAN be made to be totally biodegradable. But there is no push from the public to make it so. In any case, thanks for the post. Patty

    • Thanks for commenting!

      I read recently that several plastics that are supposed to be biodegradable aren’t (or hadn’t changed at all after being buried for three years). I don’t trust them. And the plastics that are plant-based in origin are plastic once they’re made and aren’t any better for the environment than the petroleum-based standard stuff.

      But yes, there are produce bags available. We also had some random draw string bags around (I don’t even know where they came from) that we use. Any bag large enough to hold what you’re carrying will do!


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