Cloth Produce Bags Giveaway

This is a small world story.

It's Wednesday night. I'm in Fairfax at the farmers market. I notice a table with cloth produce bags. They are the produce bags I love. Thin cotton drawstring, medium large. They feel like soft vintage cloth. And I haven't been able to find them since the Marin Farmers' Market ran out. Until tonight.

"We're encouraging people to not use plastic," the red haired woman at the Sustainable Fairfax table tells me. "They're a dollar each."

"That's a great price," I say. "They were two dollars at the Marin Farmers' Market." I love a deal.

"We're subsidized by the Good Earth," she smiles. "I send them to family in Australia."

"I love the Good Earth," I smile back. (Maybe it's the moon but I'm having my own love fest this week.) And then I realize she said Australia. The only other person I know who matches my enthusiasm for these bags lives in Australia.

"Do you know Kel?" I ask. We both smile again but this time hold each others hand because we know. Kel is her family.

We'd actually emailed a couple times and I had half an eye to meet her but it was still unexpected. As were the cloth produce bags for a dollar.

I've tried all the bags on the market in our area ....

The heavy cotton. They're too heavy. And more expensive.

The mesh cotton bags. Great for sturdy fruits or root vegetables but they don't work in the fridge for crispness. I like a multipurpose bag.

The bags made from t-shirts. Clever idea of reusing resources but they're heavy.

Home sewn fund raiser bags of thin cotton with painted radishes, tomatoes and carrots on them. Far too cute to actually use.

Biobags. I've always had a problem with these. They loose their shape and stick and I don't know. They're creepy. But still better than plastic. Way better than plastic.

The eco cotton bag, which is the bag Sustainable Fairfax is selling, is just right. It's strong and gets even better with washing. Add a hand print of dampness and it keeps produce crisp in the fridge too. Hands down the best deal.

And it comes with a small world story. I love that.

Leave a comment with your favorite reuse instead of single use item and I'll choose two random persons to receive five cloth produce bags from Sustainable Fairfax. One week from today!


Chile said...

Many people think of clean water as a single-use item. Here, we try to get several uses out of it. For instance, since we're talking of produce, when you need to wash that tomato that you harvested from your garden (or brought home from the store in a cloth bag), put a bowl in the sink while cleaning it. Take the water out to the garden and water the tomato plant so it can grow healthy and strong.

Billie said...

I have some Ecobags. I like them for fruit, potatoes and so on but wished I had some muslin bags like the one you are giving away. Sometimes the mesh bags don't take care of every need.

Billie said...

hmm... maybe I should put in a different resuse item...

I reuse the containers we get when we occasionally order in Chinese for bulk items. The soup containers are generally just the right size for most baking goods like raisins, dried cherries, dried mangos and so on. Because they are all the same size - they also stack nicely in the cupboards.

kimberly said...

I like to bring my chopsticks with me whenever I go out for sushi (that's where we eat out most). I don't like tasting the wood from the disposable chopsticks, and I prefer less waste. Also, I wrap my chopsticks up in a handkerchief to keep it clean in my purse. Then I use the handkerchief instead of the disposable napkins they give. It works out well.

tami j. said...

Katrina - I'm a lurker (and lover) of your blog. Give me a chance to win these awesome bags and I'll come out of the shadows!

One thing I'll never buy again is wrapping paper! I'm the one gently unwrapping each package so that the paper will last another round (or 2 or 3 - if I give it to the right person!) And it's a easy way to have an assortment of papers and sizes for every occassion!

Donna said...

What an amazing story! Small world is right!

I save egg cartons and berry baskets and return them to farmers so they can reuse them. Does that count? Also, my son is an expert at reusing any packaging material of any kind. The other day, he took the corrugated wrapping from a lightbulb and folded into a mortar spreader. It looked pretty good, too. :)

Kel said...

wow. that story brought tears to me eyes. how wonderful that you met Jen just like that. So perfect. i love that you held hands. Im sitting in a most fantastic, gorgeous villa in Bali, alongside a pool, children swim, people are cooking mee goreng in the kitchen, someone somewhere is playing with my baby , and we have just come back from the local markets where we bough beautiful tropical fruit. my world just got a whole lot smaller and more beautiful.

kale for sale said...

Chile - It's funny how that saved water becomes so precious too. I use one of my favorite bowls to catch it so the process is fun instead of a chore. Visuals are half the battle around here. Thanks for a great tip.

Billie - Both reuse items were terrific. I'm with you on the mesh bags - great for some things but not everything.

kimberly - I love the handkerchief idea. I generally grab a dish cloth but a handkerchief is so dainty and a lovely compliment to the chopsticks.

tami j - Thanks for coming out of the shadows with the great reuse idea. Reused paper has character and affords some kind of freedom that new paper doesn't have. Strange how that is.

Donna - Your son is amazing. A mortar spreader! I hardly know what a mortar spreader even looks like. And yes, returning cartons counts. Big time it counts.

Kel - I can see everything you described. Paradise. I would say enjoy yourself but I can tell you are. And yes, it was wonderful meeting Jen. And don't you love that she tells people, strangers in fact, that she sends her relatives in Australia bags. I love that.

rbn said...

At our house, we save the lids from plastic containers (such as shampoo, toothpaste, etc) and then give them to a local preschool teacher. She uses them for art projects with the kids!

kale for sale said...

rbn - That's terrific. My Grandmother was a first grade teacher forever and all I can think about is a little kid sticking the toothpaste lid up their nose. Maybe they don't do that anymore. Our teachers are unsung heros for the various hats they wear, one being the great recycling artistic directors that they are. Thank you for the reminder.

The Mom said...

I just found your site and love it. The things I reuse are any plastic cartons for things like sour cream, yogurt etc. They get used for starting seeds for my garden. The lids are used for painting for my kids.

The Rozell Family said...

I love using strawberry/grape/blueberry containers to wrap small gifts in. Put a little tissue paper in the bottom or some ribbon and a little gift sits so beautifully! I also use old magazines to make mailing envelopes. They are so fun to receive in the mail!

Anonymous said...

I reuse many of the items already listed! I also wipe off aluminium foil and reuse it, collect coffee grounds from local coffee shops to add to the garden, cardboard boxes as weed barrier, milk cartons to make iceblocks, wine bottles for making herbal vinegar in, corks for making small boat with the kids, junk mail envelopes for seed storage... I'll stop there.

diana in CO

Anonymous said...

I love the items everyone has listed, but I have to say that my favorite multi use instead of single use items are handkerchiefs. Not overly original, but I switched from paper tissues about a year ago and it has made a huge difference (even just with how I think about things).

Anonymous said...

Wow, so many great ideas! Mine are old news, I'm afraid, but this post has been very inspiring!
I always wash out glass jars and add them to the pantry to hold my beans and grains that I'm forever collecting.
I also have been trying really hard to reuse our plastic gallon bags that I use to freeze stuff, I need to work harder at this.
And definitely the aluminum foil, I have a handle shaped piece that I pull out of the drawer every time I make a frittata (with my plastic handled pan)!


kale for sale said...

The Mom - How great that you have separate purposes for the containers and the lids because I've never been successful at keeping the two together. And thanks for finding the blog.

The Rozell Family - I'd love to be on your mailing list and receive one of those handmade envelopes. I may have to try that. Thank you. The basket idea is a good one too.

diana - You're brilliant. I never thought to make ice blocks by using a milk carton. This will be a staple when we pull out the ice chest. Many, many thanks.

kt - It's wonderful how one small change, as dainty as a handkerchief in your case, can shift the vantage point for noticing what's been in front of us all along. Taking pictures teaches me that all the time too. Thank you.

doughgirl - I bet I have a kitchen drawer that looks identical to yours with those washed out bags and bits of foil waiting for their next job. It's not the prettiest but it does have character!

huebscher said...

all such wonderful ideas...we try to reuse anything that comes into our lives or prevent it coming at all. someone already mentioned mesh produce bags (that come from our csa box), but they are the most often complimented item at the grocery store. otherwise, my favorite thing is a glass tupperware-type box and bento bag that my sweet boyfriend gifted for christmas. it's microwavable, easy to clean, and saves money too, since packing a lunch every day and prevents the need to rely on prepackaged junk.

Rixa said...

Cloth diapers, cloth wipes, and cloth toilet paper. Hands down, the best reusable-rather-than-disposable items I've used!

Kelly said...

just reposted this on my ethicurean bag fb page for all to read- i love this post- missing yoor btw! xx