Almost every product and service we rely on today is manufactured with or transported by some amount of fossil fuels. Of course, the most important thing we can do to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels is to use less. However, when you do make a purchase, we encourage you to shop for energy-smart products that use less energy.
Here at CEC, we’re all about energy-smart products that help us move towards a fossil-free lifestyle and a fossil-free future for Santa Barbara. Last time you heard about Eileen’s favorite clothesline. In this edition of Our Favorite Things, we’re hearing from Kathi King, CEC’s Rethink the Drink and Donor Relations Manager.
Favorite eco-product: Mesh produce bags (also good for delicate laundry and travel toiletries)
Price: $10 for five
Owned it for: 2 years
As an advocate for alternatives to plastic grocery bags, I’m often asked about the plastic produce bags on rolls inside the market. Those are not likely going anywhere soon, even if communities ban the carryout bags. Produce bags also generally fly under the radar when we talk about plastics data.
We know that in California we use about 16 BILLION plastic bags per year (that’s 600 per second), but the numbers don’t get crunched on produce bags.
Both types of bags are made from non-renewable resources (oil and natural gas) and, if they enter the environment, they photodegrade into tiny bits, creating pollution for hundreds of years.
The good news is there are reusable options for produce bags just as there are for carryout bags. They are reasonably priced, durable and very lightweight. I even stick one inside the Chico bag in my handbag so there’s one handy for those unexpected stops to the store. They also wash and hang dry nicely.
While reusable bags are becoming wonderfully ubiquitous in local stores, produce bags are only beginning to find an audience. No one asks me about the reusable bags in my cart, but I get frequent questions about my collection of produce bags, even at the farmer’s market. Last weekend my husband gave one away to an especially inquisitive woman!
The one drawback to reusable produce bags, whether made from mesh, muslin or nylon is that they don’t keep refrigerated produce quite as fresh as the plastic bag. My family’s solution to this is to take a produce bag from the grocery store every once in a while and reuse it as long as possible. Shaking them out, turning them inside out and air drying them before reusing are all ways to lengthen their life span. We keep a bag of produce bags in a kitchen drawer and transfer our perishables to them once we get home. A side benefit of this is we’ve become quite creative about saving and reusing other types of plastic packaging (e.g. bread wrappers).
If you’re already in the habit of remembering your carryout reusable bags to the store, it’s easy to increase your environmental halo by adding a handful of reusable produce bags to your collection.
You can get a few reusable produce bags at CEC’s Amazon Store in the Reusable Bags section. If you find something you like, a percentage of your purchase comes back to CEC. We hope you’ll find an idea to inspire you.
Did you miss one of our favorite things? Catch up and read them all in Our Favorite Things blog category.
Stay tuned to hear from our next CEC staffer, Christa Backson, about her favorite energy-smart product.