Alternative to Plastic Bags When Buying Produce?? | My Plastic-free Life

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Alternative to Plastic Bags When Buying Produce??
Topic Rating: 0 (0 votes) 
November 7, 2012
11:08 am
Forum Posts: 10
Member Since:
November 7, 2012
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

Hi, everyone.  I am a newbie and just getting started on the journal to no plastic-land.  I am in the process of reading Beth's book (thank you, Beth!) and have read the part about cloth bags to use when buying produce.  I cannot buy those locally because I live in a small town which does not have stuff like this, so I would have to order them online.  I thought of a possible alternative in using lingerie bags, which you can buy in most discount stores.  I might even be able to get one in a thrift store.  Have any of you ever tried this, and if so, did it work well for you?  I have a feeling I will get weird looks no matter what I try, as I sometimes get weird looks with my reusable shopping bags. 

By the way, I found out in the book that my reusable shopping bags are actually plastic, despite their appearance of begin cloth.  I will use them until they completely wear out, though.  Arrgh.


November 7, 2012
2:40 pm
Elizabeth Mitchel

I don't have a prefect solution or an answer about the lingerie bags but some ideas to get started are these:

1. For most produce just don't take a plastic bag. Maybe you will have to make exceptions for some things, but even things like potatoes and apples, I just hand them to the cashier as they are, even if there are several. 

2. You could start by reusing the plastic produce bags you already have until they wear out. You can carry them along in your "cloth" grocery bag. 

Hope that helps a bit.

November 8, 2012
8:03 am

What about small cardboard boxes? Maybe the produce dept might let you have some of the ones that the products are shipped in? I did discover that a large farm market by me sells their apples this way.

I feel like it is hit or miss when it comes to cashiers being understanding of using reusable bags. I am going to start keeping track and only go to those cashiers who are helpful. I recently discovered that my normal store sells bulk nuts, but no alternative to using a plastic bag for them.


I would recommend making your own cloth bags from t-shirts or old tank tops. I like the tank ones because they already have the handles made. There are lots of "how to" posts available on the internet. I was able to buy a brand new insulated bag at a yard sale. (I won't buy one new because of the plastic though.)

November 8, 2012
9:15 am

Agree with making your own produce bags. Pretty simple, using old t-shirts, sheet, etc. The weight is similar to plastic. If you don't sew, find someone locally and pay them a few bucks (or barter) to sew up 5 or 10. Etsy also has lots of alternatives you can purchase, and you'd be supporting craftspersons in the process. Lingerie bags would work, too, but may have plastic in them. T-shirts, sheets, lingerie bags all available at thrift shops.

Even if you have to order online, the bags last a really long time, so the cost will ultimately be minimal.

Cashiers sometimes don't like not being able to see what you have so I just leave open so they can peak. Once they've gotten used to my system- usually no problem! A few get grumpy, but as electrofriend says, just avoid them in the future. Don't need that!

November 10, 2012
3:20 am


I found muslin makes good produce bags; shirtsleeves (once cuffs and collar have died) make excellent bread bags (also good shoe bags for inside suitcases).  Also, beeswaxed handkerchiefs (either new, or very well boiled first) make good "clingfilm" replacements.

June 30, 2015
10:06 am
Forum Posts: 4
Member Since:
June 30, 2015
sp_UserOfflineSmall Offline

Small pillow cases also work well - I get them at thrift stores. Also, if you're a knitter, there are dozens of mesh bag patterns like these:

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