At breakfast this morning, one of my friends mentioned that the only time she uses plastic bags at the grocery store is to hold her vegetables. Not her lemons or limes, that's silly, but she doesn't want her veggies to come in contact with the checkout roller counter.
I nodded sympathetically. True, I agreed, that roller is probably nasty, and unwanted germs on veggies are probably best avoided. Of course, I didn't stop with that thought.
But then, you know, those veggies grew in a field, right? And they were picked by people who go to the bathroom in the fields or surrounding areas, and most likely have no place to wash their hands. Big bathroom germs are probably on those carrots and that broccoli. And then they are packed and put in a truck. Probably a truck that is not clean. After that, they are unpacked at the store and handled by random produce personnel and customers until you buy them. So that checkout roller is the least of your problems, germ-wise.
Great conversationalist, right? Right. Debbie Downer? Check. My friend was horrified. She may never buy veggies again. Actually, maybe she'll remember her own veggie bags from home more often - and if she doesn't remember them, hopefully she'll skip the plastic. What's the point of putting vegetables in a plastic bag just to take them home? Bet you wash every leaf and pod that enters your house.
At this point, you're probably saying, What the heck is a veggie bag? Good question. Let's put this in SAT format:
Wallet : Purse
Veggie Bag : Reusable Grocery Bag
Of course, if you want to get detailed, there are more than just vegetable bags out there. I succumbed a couple of years ago and bought a variety of un-bleached, natural cotton bags from Life Without Plastic for bread, nuts, vegetables, etc. I like them a lot. If I forget these bags, my lettuce and carrots sit naked on the checkout roller, and I'm likely to get a bad case of stink-eye from the checkout clerk. Some checkers don't mind the damp and dirt that might get on their roller, and many keep a cloth handy for such an occasion. Others, though, get a little pissy. I avoid those checkers in general.
There's a big problem with ordering bags from Life Without Plastic: they're being shipped from Canada. That's wasteful. Which brings me back to why this topic came up in the first place. My friend (the one who uses plastic bags for her veggies) has a daughter who haunts thrift stores for cool fabrics and makes one-of- a-kind re-usable bags from them. She sells the bags at craft fairs and markets and gives the proceeds to dog rescue programs. She's started making veggie bags out of old linen napkins, which is also super cool. Guess who's in line to buy some? Guess whose friends are going to get homemade veggie bags for birthdays and holidays? Yep - my friends will be getting more eco-gifts this year. Do you sew? This is probably an easy project if you do. Get yourself to your favorite thrift, or your fabric scrap pile, find some lightweight linens, and make up a variety of cool bags in an array of sizes: large for carrots and lettuce, smaller for nuts and dried fruit. Make them for your friends and your family. Make them for everybody! And scoff at those plastic bag-using shoppers. They are unenlightened. They are to be pitied.