In the battle against disposable bags some types of bags have been spared. Even under the strictest of bag bans plastic bags found in the produce department or in a bulk candy section usually make it out unscathed and paper bags used in pharmacies are typically A-Okay. These bags are normally allowed for sanitary or privacy reasons. Their inherent function or discreteness of these bags does not make them any less dangerous to the environment. Plastic produce bags are not biodegradable and like their shopping bag equivalents they are most likely destined to take up space in landfills or whether intentional or not become litter.
Function of Bags
Plastic produce bans have a clear function: to contain germs or bacteria. Produce can be contaminated with E. coli and other sorts of bacteria so by simply dropping your fruits and veggies in a bag you can prevent the spread of bacteria to the cart or the conveyer at the checkout lane. Without the barrier of the bag the bacteria from these surfaces could transfer to your other groceries or the groceries of future shoppers. The opposite is true, too. If you were to place a couple bell peppers in your cart they may pick up some bacteria from the head of lettuce the shopper who used that cart before you purchased. The best practice is to always wash your produce before you prepare it, but limiting the spread of potentially harmful bacteria is always a good call. While produce bags are handy at preventing the spread of germs they are also great at containing the moisture from leafy greens that were hit with a mister, and they are a must when buying vegetables in bulk. Purchasing green beans or brussel sprouts in bulk would be a tremendous hassle without a produce bag to hold the loot.
With this logic in mind those drafting bag bans typically omit the plastic produce bag from the prohibition. Bans can be a tough sell; they require people to alter their habits and lifestyle. People may acknowledge the environmental benefits of the ban and they may support the ultimate goal, but actually living that change day in and day out is another story. Oftentimes when a ban is put together produce bags may be left out to make the entire arrangement more agreeable and more likely to pass. For those who support and believe in the cause it can be frustrating to not eliminate all sources of the plastic problem, but sometimes a small sacrifice allows for the greater good. A plastic bag ban that eliminates most bags is better than no ban at all.
Eco-Friendly Produce Wrangling
Shoppers do not need to be stuck using plastic bags in the produce department. Some stores have looked into biodegradable possibilities. This option is exciting and can reduce the amount of trash while creating a safe and compostable resolution. Since biodegradable produce bags are not widely available, shoppers can look to other, possibly more eco-friendly solutions. If you already use reusable shopping bags to carry your goods home, how about just placing your produce in your reusable bag while shopping, remove the items at the checkout so the cashier can ring everything up, and then just re-pack the items in your bag. This option can protect your produce from being exposed to germs or bacteria, or protect other food items from bacteria on your produce. It also allows you to keep damp veggies away from items like cereal or pasta which are packaged in cardboard boxes, and it may stop a stray avocado from rolling away.
The reusable grocery bags shoppers fill up at the checkout tend to be big and they feature heavy, reinforced seams designed to handle large loads. Not all reusable bags are designed this way. Consider picking up smaller reusable bags, maybe made of nylon or another low-profile material to secure your vegetables and fruits. Two or three of these bags will conveniently stow inside your other reusable bags and will help you stay organized as you take care of your shopping. As is true with all reusable bags you should routinely wash reusable produce bags to protect your family and yourself from the possibility of bacteria.
Every bit of plastic you can eliminate from your life makes a difference. Switching out disposable plastic bags with reusable bags makes a huge dent in the amount of waste you create. Eliminating produce bags will allow you to help protect the environment and wildlife even more.
To learn more check out http://www.boulderweekly.com/news/the-plastic-bag-war-is-moving-toward-the-produce-aisle/.