Making your own reusable produce bags will eliminate the need for disposable — hence, wasteful — plastic bags.
PHOTO: HEIDI WARREN
Over two years ago, I purchased reusable and washable canvas bags for packing all my purchases at the grocery store. This eliminated my consumption of plastic grocery bags. Unfortunately, I still had to bag fresh fruits and vegetables in the plastic bags provided in the produce section.
To eliminate that need, I made reusable produce bags from cloth. The bags need to be transparent so the cashier can read the produce label, lightweight because produce is usually weighed, and washable and sturdy enough for multiple uses. I used sheer curtain fabric for its transparent and lightweight properties. Alternative materials could be tulle, hosiery, or nylon netting.
These bags are suited for storing most fruits and vegetables, but the mesh bag is unable to retain the moisture needed to keep lettuce from wilting.
I’ve found the cloth bags to be excellent alternatives to plastic, and hopefully shoppers will reduce more of their waste stream with similar reusable packaging.
The cloth produce bag can be made from sheer curtain fabric, tulle, nylon netting, or hosiery material. A rectangular section of fabric is cut and then folded in the middle. Start with a rectangular piece 12" wide by 24" long before folding.
The fold forms the bottom of the bag. The sides are sewn together with a French seam. For a French seam, sew the wrong sides of the fabric together with a 1/4" seam allowance. Turn the bag inside out, with the right sides together, and sew another seam, this time with a 1/2" seam allowance. This traps the raw edges of the sheer fabric and completes the seam nicely. The top of the bag is finished off with a traditional hem. To close the bag, a light weight ribbon is attached with reinforcement to the bag.