Author Topic: What to do about all this damned PLASTIC?  (Read 5011 times)

ShavenLlama

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What to do about all this damned PLASTIC?
« on: March 11, 2013, 01:34:17 PM »
I love shopping at Sprouts, a chain of stores here on the west coast (and into AZ and CO, I believe) because they have awesome prices on fruits and veggies, and lots of bulk selection for nuts, dry grains, and spices.

But for being such a hippy-dippy establishment they still don't have a solution for using those crappy thin plastic bags for the non-packaged stuff! I'm fine putting citrus fruits and stuff I will eventually wash or peel right in my cart, but there's no practical way to get my dried cranberries or nuts home without using the bags, which means I end up with a counter full of irritating clutter and I forget what I even have.

Most stuff finds its way into plastic or glass jars and tubs once home, but does anyone have any creative ideas for what to do about getting it here with being so wasteful? I've thought about just taking in my ziplock tubs for stuff, but those things do register on the scale, and with bulk you are paying by the pound so I'd hate to pay extra while trying to be environmentally prudent.

Anyone else bothered by these little plastic bags, or am I just being silly?

StarswirlTheMustached

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Re: What to do about all this damned PLASTIC?
« Reply #1 on: March 11, 2013, 01:51:53 PM »
Bulk food establishments here won't let you fill your own containers, even if you're wiling to pay for the mass of them. Apparently they feel it is a sanitary issue.
I've thought about bringing the bags back to fool them into letting me reduce the waste stream, but I'm not sure that's the kind of suggestion you're after.

Erica/NWEdible

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Re: What to do about all this damned PLASTIC?
« Reply #2 on: March 11, 2013, 02:00:00 PM »
At my hippie dippie co-op they WILL let you bring in your own clean containers and you just get the tare weight on your way in, and they deduct that from the total price. Requires cashiers with a certain authority to make decisions though.

There are very lightweight mesh bags, similar to lingerie bags, that are designed to be used over and over in place of plastic bags. They are an upfront cost, but very light. Old pillowcases, sheets and lightweight cotton mens shirts can also be quite easily sewn into washable produce bags.

breakingbrainwash

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Re: What to do about all this damned PLASTIC?
« Reply #3 on: March 11, 2013, 02:52:14 PM »
Waxed paper sandwich bags.  The weight is minimal, they're environmentally friendly, and they are so dang cute as well!  http://www.amazon.com/Natural-Value-Waxed-Paper-Bags/dp/B001KUSK5G

But Erica's idea of making your own wins for being the most resourceful.
« Last Edit: March 11, 2013, 02:54:21 PM by breakingbrainwash »

DreamingofFreedom

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Re: What to do about all this damned PLASTIC?
« Reply #4 on: March 11, 2013, 05:45:12 PM »
A second vote for the very lightweight mesh bags.  I bought mine a couple years back and they are still just fine.  You can wash and air dry them.  They are surprisingly sturdy- none have ripped yet. 

Hotstreak

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Re: What to do about all this damned PLASTIC?
« Reply #5 on: March 11, 2013, 10:54:57 PM »
The plastic bags from the store actually hold up pretty well.  Think about it -- you can leave bulk nuts, granola, or flower in it and use it as a working container for months without it breaking open holes.  If you use it just as a transportation container between the store and home, I imagine they would hold up for quite a few trips, and you could re-use the labeled twist-tie over and over again too.

NumberCruncher

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Re: What to do about all this damned PLASTIC?
« Reply #6 on: March 12, 2013, 08:20:46 AM »
If you have the inclination, you can make the plastic bags into "plarn," or "plastic yarn" and knit/crochet with it. Cheap padded hangers or reusable grocery bags or backpack are all possibilities.

babysteps

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Re: What to do about all this damned PLASTIC?
« Reply #7 on: March 12, 2013, 09:09:08 AM »
For alternatives to almost anything plastic, check out http://myplasticfreelife.com/ - the blogger is Beth Terry and she also has a book out "Plastic Free" - I haven't read it but I bet your library could get it (via interlibrary loan) if they don't already have a copy.

End-run, if local health codes require the store to provide the packaging, perhaps you could convince the store to buy (repurpose) some re-usable glass containers that you would pay for and/or put down a deposit on, that way you don't have a bunch of plastic and they don't have trouble with the health department?

poko

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Re: What to do about all this damned PLASTIC?
« Reply #8 on: March 12, 2013, 12:00:43 PM »
I have reused the produce plastic bags before, I just don't tie them at the store, which requires ripping them open later. Bring 'em back and fill with more produce!

We just started a plastic bag ban here in Austin, so I'm actually kind of glad that these produce bags are still around -- I reuse plastic grocery bags for cleaning my cats' litter box, so now I'll just switch to using the produce bags.

ShavenLlama

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Re: What to do about all this damned PLASTIC?
« Reply #9 on: March 12, 2013, 12:39:55 PM »
City of LA and some surrounding cities have banned the plastic shopping bags, but even in those cities they are OK with the little bags to wrap your meat and produce.

I've seen those mesh bags for the produce at Container Store (to which I sneered that I could make those myself! :) ).

My biggest issue is things like the cranberries and nuts, which I like to buy about a half-cup of once a week and all they offer are the massively oversized bags. And flour/ Couscous- I have had those silly bags rip in the cart. Embarrassing.

I do like the idea of the sandwich sized bags. I might take some of those in next time. And you're right babysteps, I should bring the issue to Sprout's corporate office.  Thanks for the link to the plastic-free site- there are tons of things that bug me about our disposable society. I'm sure I can find more stuff to get worked up about over there! >8]

Catbert

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Re: What to do about all this damned PLASTIC?
« Reply #10 on: March 12, 2013, 01:38:45 PM »
At my shopping I have a combo of "solutions"...reusable muslin bags, bringing back plastic bags for re-use and mason jars for things don't work well in bags.  See if your Sprouts will do a TARE on your glass containers.  (I'm not sure exactly what TARE stands for, but basically it means that they take off the weight of the container.)  My Sprouts is happy to. 

anastrophe

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Re: What to do about all this damned PLASTIC?
« Reply #11 on: March 12, 2013, 02:33:33 PM »
(I'm not sure exactly what TARE stands for, but basically it means that they take off the weight of the container.)

It doesn't stand for anything, it's a word that means the weight of a container without whatever goes in it. From the Oxford English Dictionary:

"The weight of the wrapping, receptacle, or conveyance containing goods, which is deducted from the gross in order to ascertain the net weight; hence, a deduction made from the gross weight to allow for this; also (esp. as tare weight), the weight of a motor vehicle or aircraft without its fuel and other equipment.

Etymology:  < French tare (15th cent. in Hatzfeld & Darmesteter) waste or deterioration in goods, deficiency, imperfection, also as in English, = medieval Latin tara, Italian tara, Provençal tara, Spanish tara, Portuguese tara, Old Spanish atara (Littré), < Arabic ṭarḥah that which is thrown away, < ṭaraḥa to reject."

Anyways, that's my solution. Mesh bags for produce, and jars and tupperwares for bulk goods and all the little stuff that falls through.