Many CSA (i.e., Community Supported Agriculture) farms package their shareholders' weekly harvests nicely in bags and boxes. Our CSA is not among them. I love our farm, but it has a very limited staff, and members are expected to bag their own weekly shares according to posted signs that specify the quantity of each item. I don't really mind that they ask me to bring my own bags. Reusing bags is the environmentally friendly thing to do. Last year, I bought those plastic grocery bags available at the store that are supposed to increase the life of your produce, but this year, I couldn't bring myself to pay for plastic bags. I have yet to find a fabric grocery bag that I like. Furthermore, if you're already an environmentally friendly person who takes her own reusable bags to the grocery store, you don't even have a good stash of plastic grocery store bags to use. What's a green feelin', bag reusin', CSA belongin' member to do?
I had to have something. Some items, like a head of cabbage or a bunch of beets, can go without bags, but two pounds of carrots, one and a half pounds of salad greens, and two pounds of carrots need to be contained. One week, out of sheer desperation, I saved our bread bag. The next thing I knew, I was saving the bread bags, used Ziploc bags, the zip top miniature carrot bags from the grocery store, the produce bags from the store, the miniature bagel bags, and those little net bags the cherry tomatoes come in. I felt a little batty, just a little bit like I should be a single mother to 57 cats. On the other hand, I also felt a little giddy. FREE BAGS! FREE BAGS THAT WERE GETTING A NEW LIFE BEFORE GOING TO THE LANDFILL! FREE BAGS THAT WERE BEING FILLED WITH ORGANIC, LOCALLY GROWN PRODUCE AND REUSED A COUPLE OF TIMES BEFORE BEING RETIRED! Guess what? I don't care if I'm a little quirky; you all thought I was nuts when I gave up paper towels. You can admit it. But I cut out paper towels, napkins, and paper plates and improved my paper recycling habits, and I'm pretty sure I've saved a tree by now. I rinse out those plastic bags, dry them on the paper towel rack, and the stuff them into a grocery bag to take to the farm next summer.
If you think I'm a little loony, walk into your kitchen and count all the things that are packaged in potentially reusable plastic bags. Then picture a big pile of those trash bags in your front lawn. It's ugly, isn't it. Don't you either want to get rid of them altogether or at least breathe a little extra life into them? If I use each of those bags twice, I reduce the pile of plastic in my virtual front yard. Think about it.