Are Plastic Bags at the Grocery Store Necessary?

In honor of Earth Day this past Friday, I can’t help but think of things that I can do in my life to reduce single-use plastics and other eco-friendly habits that I can incorporate into my daily life. One such habit is stopping the use of plastic bags at the grocery store. This seems basic, but each time I go to the store, I’m completely shocked at the number of bags people use in the produce aisle or upon checkout.

First, lets talk about the produce aisles. I watch people take multiple plastic bags to put everything from apples, oranges, peppers, avocados, lettuce, broccoli and the list goes on. There appears to be a false sense that these plastic bags prevent dirt, germs and bacteria from getting on the produce.

They might prevent a small portion of germs from getting on the produce once you’ve picked it up, but have you ever thought about the distance that item traveled before you put it in the plastic bag. Or how many people may have touched it before you did?

The reality is that regardless of whether you put the item in a plastic bag for the final mile into your refrigerator, the produce should be washed and disinfected. When I get home from the grocery store, I fill a bowl with warm water, vinegar and a few drops of Dr. Bronner’s Citrus Pure-Castile Soap and place my fruits and vegetables into the bowl. I then rinse them and set them on towels to dry before placing them in the refrigerator. This may seem time consuming, but when you think about all the germs your fruits and vegetables encounter, it’s a simple solution to ensure your items are clean.

You might be thinking, how in the world do I get green beans or loose carrots home without a plastic produce bag. Try using Tru Earth Produce nets. They are reusable and can be washed in the event something gooey gets on them.

Now let’s address the checkout process. I’m grateful that I live in a city that now charges for bags, both plastic and paper, at checkout. I do wonder if its helping to cut down on the number of single use bags used as I’m shocked at the number of bags that people continue to take visit over visit. At $0.10 per bag, this can really start to add up over time. Not to mention the amount of waste that goes into the landfills from the plastic bags. I do realize that some stores only use paper bags (THANK GOODNESS), but this still creates unnecessary waste. Is it really that difficult to purchase a few reusable bags and leave them in the car or hang them by the door to grab on your way to the store?

We all need to make small changes to reduce our reliance on plastic and to reduce the waste that plastic bags create. This small change can make a big impact over time. Remember, there is no planet B and we all need to get involved to make a difference.

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