Cloth Produce Bags

I have a new favorite thing.

It's an ecobag, produce bag, being sold at the Marin Farmers' Market. They're made of unbleached organic cotton and weigh less than a handful of arugula. I feel decadent filling them with clementines or dropping a bunch of dirty carrots into them. And it feels natural using the soft cloth, foregoing the plastic, reused or not. I swear the spinach let out a sigh of relief as it went into the bag this morning. "Thank you for not suffocating me," I imagined it saying.

The ecobag website recommends putting the cloth produce bag into plastic as a way to keep produce fresher longer in the fridge. At first I balked at the advice but it makes sense. The plastic bag won't have to be washed given it's only an outer cover and therefore can be reused forever. Unless of course the produce turns into a science experiment and then, well, then the zucchini will eat the cotton bag and the plastic bag will save your life from the ooze and a proper burial blessing should be chanted before the entire mess is mummified into the landfill for generations to come.

At $2 each the produce bags sold at the' market are less than the online price at ecobags unless you buy 50 or more. Which would be an investment but not a bad idea. They're a great gift on their own or filled with some local flavor. They're also clever gift wrapping that won't go straight to the landfill.

I've been looking for a good alternative to plastic produce bags for some time. The bags made from old t-shirts were good for tree fruits but too heavy for lighter more delicate foods. The ecobag net sacks and organic cotton bags were heavy too and pricey to the point I didn't enjoy them.

The new produce bags are just right.

Have you seen them or do you have another great alternative to the plastic produce bags? I'd love to know.


Anonymous said...

I bought some produce bags from Etsy last spring - I think I bought 12 but I can never find them all. I LOVE them - so much better for produce, especially heavy things like stone fruit, potatoes, onions, etc. I actually use them for storing harvested food from the garden too.

I've found if I put the greens in slightly damp, or dampen the bag first, that I don't need a plastic outer layer. Salad greens won't last quite as long as they would in plastic, but they'll last long enough.

You reminded me that I need to find some more before spring as I'm sure I'll only be able to find 2/3 of mine - I tend to store things in them and then give them away to friends.

Green Bean said...

I have some of the ecobags too - picked them up at the St Helena farmers' market for a buck last summer! They are my favorite. I also bought some by the same name thru reusable bags - like them too but a tiny bit less. I own some of the netted ecobags too and a beautiful cloth one from our own Organic Needle. I'm such a fan of non-plastic produce bags. I feel positively European using them. ;-)

For the lettuce, I'm experimenting. Sometimes, I empty it into a plastic tupperware type container which seems to work well.

Andree said...

Thanks for this post! I've been overwhelmed with all the plastics around me and thinking about an alternative for the bags. I can't (or decided not to) buy anything new for the next few months, so I think I'll try making some bags out of old t-shirts (the lighter/more worn out the better it sounds?).
Also, I'm sure you all know this, but when my veggies are sad and wilted, esp the lettuce, I just stick them in a bowl of water and they crisp right up. I've left lettuce in a bowl in the fridge for a week and it was fine.

Kelly said...

lol. i woke up this morning ready to do a devotional post about my faourite xmas gift - 20 eco-bags from sustainable fairfax! i love them and they feel sooo good, weghty when full, weightless when empty and no awful rustle of beads of sweat.

Anonymous said...

Last weekend I found a wild pair of tights from highschool that had holes in them and realized that maybe I could make them into produce bags. They wouldn't be very big, but would still work for some things. I'm going to try it later this week and see how it turns out!

Kale for Sale said...

laura - I'll try the slightly damp technique. Thanks. I love giving the bags away too. I have an image of them multiplying like bunnies wherever they are.

green bean - Bags for a buck! That's a good find. As is the organic needle. You're right about the european feel to the cloth bags. I kept wanting to write that they are kind of romantic. And now I have.

andree - I would go for the really worn t-shirts for the bags unless you're bagging potatoes and apples. I bought one with a great patch made by kids that still makes me smile. Ah, the possibilities. And I've got carrots to get their game back with a good soaking but never considered it for lettuce. Thanks!

kel - That's too funny. A devotional post - I love it. I saw those bags on the Sustainable Fairfax website last month but didn't make it to their gift fair to buy some.

mommustwrite - You're going to be a hit at the farmers' market!

Anonymous said...

I will look for these. I hate plastic!

knutty knitter said...

We buy them in the supermarkets here. They do multiply a bit but also get used as swimming bags, overnight bags, hang on a hook storage bags for shoes etc. They wash well too.

We pay about $NZ2.00 for them and they are definitely worth it. I even have some in the shop for bigger purchases that won't fit a paper bag.

viv in nz

Kale for Sale said...

Karen - I'm sure you'll be able to find cloth produce bags in Seattle. You're the other San Francisco. Or is it the other way around.

knutty knitter - Somehow your comment has me thinking of flour sacks. I have the vaguest memory of my Grandmother getting flour in sacks. I wonder why in the world we moved away from that.

I love that you have paper sacks in your store and not plastic. The world, she is a changing!


Anonymous said...

Great tip on dampening the bag when bringing home greens. I am using these things more and more, not just for groceries but to carry books back and forth the the library and bring dinner party offerings to friends.

And I was totally floored when my mom stopped by the other day carrying a cloth bag she's been using for 30 years. These things really do last! It's amazing.