How can you purchase grocery store produce without using plastic bags? The checkout bar code reader/scale and the cashier's hands are not clean.

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9 Comments

Jane B. May 16, 2019
Trader Joe's vegetation-based bags got me curious and I found that Good Start Packaging makes a great vegetation-based grocery bags and trash bags which are durable and return to earth. I pay a little more just to support an amazing trend that will eventually drop in price. Plastic is something we need to work out of our daily lives to survive!
 
BerryBaby March 10, 2018
For that reason I wash produce before storing. Grocery carts are bacteria havens. I bought ‘buggy bags’ over 10 years ago so my food never sits directly in the cart.
I reuse produce bags. The buggy bag can be used to carry your groceries. It has a velcro strap that keeps everything from falling out.
I love them, very convenient,
Answer image
 
Vandana March 9, 2018
Interesting. I've been vegetarian my whole life. When wandering around the grocery store, I always put produce directly into cloth bags that I take with me. But I take them out of the bags at checkout (some things need to be weighed, like peppers and bananas), and I've always been grossed out by the fact that there is residue from packages of ground beef or other meats all over the scales. Is this really worth being icked out over? Are vegetables meeting all along the way to the grocery store as well? I always wash produce thoroughly. This is more a mental thing for me.
 
Vandana March 9, 2018
Meeting meats*
 
Alyssa March 9, 2018
I work in the produce department at a co-op, and I will tell you that nothing is clean/ready to eat unless labeled so, like packaged lettuces; even organics are dirty. Wash your produce! But also, you can bring reusable plastic or cloth bags to use. If they're heavy, you can bring them to the cashier first and have them weigh your container for a tare weight, which they will subtract at checkout. So, in theory, you could even bring a tupperware to fill with bulk lettuce as long as you know the weight of the container to subtract at checkout.
 
dinner A. March 9, 2018
I've accumulated a collection of sturdy plastic bags (stuffed in a small tote), which I reuse nearly indefinitely. The bags don't usually need to be washed in between uses, because the bag that, for example, had unwashed broccoli is just going to get some other unwashed item of produce put in it next. If they get scummy, I do give them a quick wash.
I also agree with Smaug -- the checkout surfaces and cashier's hands are no less clean than any number of hands/surfaces the produce contacted before you picked it out. I don't worry about that too much -- I use the bags more because they help organize things and keep food from drying out in the fridge.
 
702551 March 9, 2018
Smaug is right, all produce has been handled and worrying about what happens at the checkout stand is only one tiny fraction of the journey that particular piece of produce has taken.

If you are trying to be more thoughtful about conserving resources/reducing trash, there are reusable produce bags. I have a set like this:

https://www.amazon.com/Natural-Home-Reuseable-Produce-Bags/dp/B004XIBKB8/ref=sr_1_8?s=kitchen&ie=UTF8&qid=1520616054&sr=1-8&keywords=produce+bags&dpID=41l9HrN7kzL&preST=_SX300_QL70_&dpSrc=srch

The ones I have were made from recycled plastic bottles; I periodically run them with a load of laundry. There are also cotton produce bags.

Regardless of whether my produce comes from a grocery store or the farmers market, whether or not it is bagged in a standard disposable plastic bag or one of my reusable ones, the produce still needs to be washed in most cases.

Some produce may have pesticide residue in addition to any microbial hitchhikers, so it is best to be judicious in cleaning your produce before using it.
 
Smaug March 9, 2018
Produce is apt to have been handled a number of times, starting with picking it; drawing the line at the clerk's hands is a bit too late; you really need to wash it yourself. You could bring your own bags if you object to throwing out plastic, or reuse the store's. Trader Joe's recently came up with compostable produce bags; they're kind of odd,more the texture and color of a latex glove than the usual clear polyethylene, maybe they'll catch on.
 
Jane B. May 16, 2019
Trader Joe's bags got me curious and I found that Good Start Packaging makes a great vegetation based grocery bags and trash bags which are durable and return to earth. I pay a little more just to support an amazing trend that will eventually drop in price. Plastic is something we need to work out of our daily lives to survive!
 
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