Monday, November 29, 2010

Reusable Produce Bags from Joyce on Etsy

A couple of years ago, I was in our local coop and I noticed someone putting their grains from the bulk bins into a fabric bag. At the time, I was really impressed, but in a distant, “I buy my staples at Market Basket”*, way. But something about that moment stuck with me. Buying from bulk bins and using muslin drawstring bags seems like a great way to get staples and produce without a lot of waste. So I’ve finally made the leap.

I’ve been looking for reasonably priced, simple drawstring bags for a while and I recently found Joyce’s bags on Etsy. I really like that each of the bag sizes are adequately sized for produce, grains, nuts and lentils. The largest size (16’’X14’’) can easily fit a loaf of bread or a fairly large number of fruits and vegetables. They’re extremely light, so need not cost more at the checkout counter (though you can also weigh them and have their weight subtracted, if you’re buying something really light). They wash well. The smallest size (9’’ X11’’)is still large enough for two pounds of granola or risotto.

I’m most excited that having these bags have finally made it possible to buy staples without producing trash.

I asked Joyce to talk more about why she started making reusable bags, and this is what she wrote:

"When I would go to the market, they would ask "paper or plastic?". I would always say plastic, thinking I was saving the trees. I would always recycle the plastic bags, but then I made some canvas totes to carry to the market. I just had to get into the habit of taking them with me when I went shopping. Then I starting thinking about replacing the plastic bags that the markets have for produce with something that was reusable. I found a lightweight mesh fabric that you could easily see through and made some produce bags. They worked so well that I decided to make some for sale. I sold quite a few on eBay, but then I discovered the Etsy site and opened my shop there. Someone asked me to make a set of muslin bags for them and I was hooked. They have become my biggest sellers.

I've sewn mostly clothes since I was a teenager, but I have discovered that I have a passion for making fabric bags of any kind (shoe bags, laundry bags, tote bags, gift bags, purses). For the first time last year, I made fabric gift bags for Christmas. Wrapping gifts last year was so easy. No paper, tape, or scissors to worry about. I'd just put the gift in a fabric bag, pulled the drawstring to close the bag, and I was done. It was also another great way to help out the environment. I'm making more for my shop and for personal use this year. I promise to let my family and friends keep the ones they get this year (I asked for them back last year). They were just too pretty and I got attached to them."

Visit Joyce's store on Etsy.  I'd love to hear from you if you've started using fabric produce bags.  What has your experience been like?

*For those of you not in our region, Market Basket is the cheapest store in the area.


leah said...

Some staples, like rice and oatmeal, seem to be cheaper when bought in bulk at whole foods than at market basket, and you can buy local oatmeal that way.

If you forget a muslin bag, the paper bags are at least compostable, and they keep your compost from being too rancid.

Concrete Gardener said...

I didn't realize that Whole Foods had little paper bags. At Harvest, they just have the thin plastic for produce. I think at Harvest less common grains (like arborio rice and quinoa) are cheaper than Trader Joe's, which in turn is cheaper than MB. Oats is about the same price as MB, but like at WF it's organic and local.

The Green Cat said...

Great post. I've started buying some items in bulk. Sometimes I remember to bring a bag with me but most times I forget and end up getting the plastic bags. I've been meaning to buy some produce bags so thanks for the link!