Packaging Free Produce

In order to keep from being overwhelmed by the idea of our family achieving the goal of zero waste, my husband and I have collaborated on ways to reduce our waste a little bit at a time.  

One of our first goals is to reduce the amount of waste generated when grocery shopping. We are already pretty good at bringing our own bags to carry things home in, and we’ve made the switch to usable glass milk jugs. The next step, we’ve decided to take,  towards reducing our grocery related waste, is to minimize the produce related packaging we consume. Here are some strategies we have come up with. 

  • Avoid pre-packaged produce. Upon examining the refrigerator we found a variety of of pre-packaged produce. Including lettuce, baby carrots, and grapes. In the past we have also purchased prepackaged items like kiwi, cut-up fruit, and mushrooms . In most cases this packaging is unnecessary and package free alternatives are available, so whenever the option presents itself the plan is to go packaging free.  
  • Bring our own produce bags.  This idea was introduced to me at a Cool Davis sponsored event this fall where the organization was giving away handmade cloth produce bags to anyone who was interested. I loved the idea, and the bag, and happily took the one offered to me.  (I loved the bag so much, I went back a half an hour later to get another, hoping they wouldn’t recognize me).  I soon realized that two bags were not going to be enough to handle that amount of produce we purchase. With the idea in mind that the greenest product is one we already own I started looking around the house for options. A great one I discovered were the small mesh laundry bags I had purchased years ago, but never really use for their intended purpose. For anyone interested in purchasing produce bags Chico bags carry a great line of reusable produce bags made out of different materials for different types of produce: https://www.chicobag.com/product/produce-stand-complete-starter-kit
  • Only Use a Produce Bag when Necessary: Even when bringing our own produce bags we sometimes find we don’t have enough.  So instead of putting things like a head of lettuce, a bunch of carrots, or a couple of avocados in a bag, we will just place these types of items loose in the cart, leaving the produce bags free to carry smaller items like, beans, mushrooms, and loose leaf spinach.

My husband just headed out the door to do this weeks grocery shopping, bringing with him empty reusable milk jugs, large reusable grocery bags, and new this week, a handful of mismatched produce bags, plus a gentle reminder from me of the new steps we are taking on the our journey towards zero waste. 

About Michelle Millet

Michelle is a 25-year resident of Davis. She currently serves as the Vice-Chair of the Natural Resource Commission and sits on the Executive Boards of the Explorit Science Center and Davis Bicycles! Michelle writes periodic columns for the Davis Enterprise and maintains a blog about her family's efforts to live a zero-waste lifestyle, and works as a part time substitute teacher. Michelle and her husband Mitch live in South Davis with their 11-year old daughter Emi, their 9-year old son Drew, plus their 2 dogs, and 6 chickens.

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