This is not a recipe thread - it's about plastic.

My local fruit shop wants to know what they can use instead of plastic bags for the produce they put in the trays outside - usually an A5 size bag of small stuff like plums, carrots, kiwis, etc - at a good price. And plastic means the produce can be seen.

They no longer ask if buyers want a plastic shopping bag - they ask if they have their re-usable bag handy. And it's working - more people say they don't need a plastic bag. But - what do they do about the pre packed bags of stuff. Any suggestions? (They are reluctant to provide more paper bags, which are presently just for the mushrooms, because paper is also questionable in terms of the energy needed to produce it.

They need ideas, please, from people who care about this kind of stuff, and I thought this message board might be the right place.

Chef_cosimo, May 31, 7:44 am

I saw two people who had there own string bags for vegetables today in a local supermarket. It is something I have been thinking about getting but then decided to make some out of onion bags. I am now putting a note on my table, to do tomorrow. I am very good at taking my own bags for other things, just not the fruit and veg yet. Maybe we will need to go back to buying loose fruits and vegetables.

Chef_pickles7, May 31, 10:11 am

Not have pre-packed stuff? It's not necessary.

Chef_lythande1, May 31, 7:42 pm

Check this for prices - may not be cost effective.

Chef_olwen, May 31, 7:53 pm

I have made dozens of bags, from old cotton, sheeting, shirts etc, also see through from netting, with drawstrings, with velcro closing etc. I take them for everything, including flour, nuts,, stuff like that from the loose bins.
One morning work- produced enough bags for myself and daughters shopping.
If it is wrapped in plastic- we do not buy can be done- retrain yourself.

Chef_lilyfield, May 31, 9:13 pm

And who watched that disgusting tv programm last night. Hope NZ is not quite like it. The English must be very wealthy tohave so much food wastage.

Chef_lilyfield, May 31, 9:14 pm

Meat trays. I undid 6 trays of meat and took good look at the rubbish, it made me feel a bit, sad n bad. Heaps of cling film and polystyrene. Then after a few minutes the pile for one day from any supermarket really got to me. Maybe taking one thing at a time, after plastic bags, meat trays should be our next poisons to consider doing away with from our environment. I am going to take a plastic container and will ask someone in the butchers area to transfer my meat from the garbage and place into my container. I will report back here as to how that transpires.

Chef_pickles7, May 31, 9:55 pm

Something I find a bit odd is the way that the checkout packers in supermarkets are always so keen to use as many plastic bags as possible. They look affronted when I suggest putting the shopping direct into the trolley without bags, and if I take my eye off them I end up with about ten plastic bags each containing only two or three items. This is at New World, which actively promotes recycling, has a plastic bag recyling bin at the front door and gives a 5c discount for every reusable bag brought in. It seems as if they are still training their staff to bag everything without thought.

Chef_davidt4, May 31, 10:59 pm

When I buy fruit and veg I put most of them loose in my trolley or basket - though, shamed to say, still put mud-encrusted spuds into a plastic bag. Then at checkout, I make sure that soft fruit like tomatoes are the last to be put into my reusable bag.
I think the only way I can get away from pre-packaged meat is to start buying from a butcher rather than the supermarket. They can then wrap items in brown paper. I don't think an inner plastic bag would be necessary as I'd be getting the paper wrapped items home fairly quickly.

Chef_mindi1, May 31, 10:59 pm

I wonder about that - my butcher uses plastic bags, and I get home quickly, but that might not be the case for everyone. I remember as a child seeing my mother pull sodden bloody packets out of her shopping bag - whatever the wrapping was in those long gone days obviously wasn't good enough.

I am wondering about taking a click-clack with me when I know I am going to the butcher.

Chef_cosimo, Jun 1, 2:34 am

I agree that ignorance is rife, but the message I got was that we should be doing more to reuse stuff here, rather than separating it out then shipping it round the world - if we can find countries to take it. What a waste of miles of transport.

Chef_cosimo, Jun 1, 2:35 am

My New World is a bit different - they say that so many people (probably old women!) say the meat must be in one bag, the soap powder in another, cans in one and packets . and they don't feel confident challenging them in case they are reported! This was a while back, so the management's attitude might be different now.

Chef_cosimo, Jun 1, 2:38 am

If you get it sorted, please can I have your pattern or instructions? I can kind of crochet and used to make tatted bags, and would love to make some small ones for the little stuff.

Chef_cosimo, Jun 1, 2:40 am

How anal! Like those people who buy plastic bags and stand in the car park sorting items into separate bags. I only take the groceries home, not on holiday.

O/P - unsold newspapers from the local dairy?

Chef_amasser, Jun 1, 3:51 am

Interesting thread. A few months back, when NW had chicken breasts for $6.99kg, they were in hot demand, but were so badly/loosely wrapped in the trays that there were rolls of paper towels and plastic bags sitting on top of them in the chiller. One very elderly gentleman was picking up trays that were dripping chicken body fluids over his hands and into the cloth bag he had brought with him. When I suggested he put them all in (just) ONE of the plastic bags he looked almost fearful and said "oh no, I mustn't". And off he tottered, to continue his grocery shopping, his hands contaminating everything else he touched in the store, and the leaking trays contaminating everything else he added to his bag.

Chef_kaddiew, Jun 1, 5:42 am

Not sure if I am responding to the right answer, but selling priced bags of products is good business for them (people in a hurry grab a few bags on the way into the shop) and the bags need to be see-through. I can see stretchy string bags doing a good job as well, but do they exist at a commercially acceptable cost?

Chef_cosimo, Jun 1, 6:19 am

And he would still be ignorant of the potential harm he could have (or may have) caused.

Chef_cosimo, Jun 1, 6:20 am

Mmm not anal, I don't like toiletries and cleaners etc. in the same bag as my food groceries so always separate but I do use my own bags to do that so no biggy.
Agree with others who said fruit & veges don't need to be prepackaged. I buy my fruit and veges from my local weekend market, pop everything into a basket to be weighed and paid, then into my own bag reusable bag. Yesterday I opened a pack of crackers only to find them now double packaged, outer was card, inner was plastic, really no need for that. Oh, and the ice cream cones were triple packaged, outer card, inner plastic tray inside a plastic bag.

Chef_nauru, Jun 1, 6:35 am

I have a stretchy string bag that I use and have had for many years, like one of these,
Haven't seen them around for a long time but they used to be very popular at one time, maybe the original reusable bag.

Chef_nauru, Jun 1, 6:43 am

When I was in India our purchases at one of the places were put into bags made from old Saris. I thought it was a great idea rather than plastic.
And old saris are so cheap, you could buy them in the market for around $2.
I kept them, and now use one for storing all the odd socks hoping their partners reappear.

Chef_benthecat, Jun 1, 6:54 am

I found 5 old onion bags in the garage, intended to be given to our kids for gathering shellfish with. They are a bag as is, for cabbage, cauliflower, but gee I had second thoughts as soon as I undid one. What was I thinking um really shoddy crossed my mind, lol. I have found two op shops that have someone making bags from material they salvage from the rag bag. Much better idea I am thinking. I will just have to try and remember where those shops are. Someone has mentioned a Sari, ideal material for the job. A tea towel could be a handy size folded and made into a bag. Endless ideas really.

Chef_pickles7, Jun 1, 8:25 am

Yes. and the risk of infection will be very high, when we are forced to accept meat wrapped in paper, then have it placed in our cloth bags.
Then there's the issue of keeping the cloth bags clean.
Lets hope everyone launders them after each visit to the supermarket, otherwise we can expect much cross contamination resulting in illness. illness.
I will be buying bags to put my meat in as long as they are available.
As for them being single use, not in our house. They are often used several times for storage in the deep freeze, and lining rubbish bins, etc.
Why can't we find a way to incinerate them and create power from their disposal?

Chef_jenny791, Jun 1, 8:44 am

Chef_lovelurking, Jun 1, 8:54 am

Iíve bought tall, skinny, soft plastic shopping bags (with really user friendly handles moulded into them) on sale at Briscoes. They are perfect, because I can easily wash them in hot soapy water. They come in different colours and I pack the bathroom/cleaning bits in one, the fruit and vegetables in another etc etc. They are much easier to get to and from the car and unpacking is easy when I get home.

Chef_lovelurking, Jun 1, 10:02 am

Another ditto.

Chef_kaddiew, Jun 1, 11:07 am

Chef_autumnwinds, Jun 1, 11:12 am

Due to my disability I buy online from Countdown. I'm appalled at the amount of unnecessary plastic shopping bags they use. Bread which is already in plastic shove into a shopping bag, same with cartons of eggs,toilet paper, cask wine, large bottle of Janola and the list goes on. They will have to think outside the square shortly.

Chef_cleggyboy, Jun 1, 7:54 pm

Chef_olwen, Jun 1, 7:59 pm

My favourite bag. Not commercially viable.

Chef_olwen, Jun 1, 8:03 pm

Here's my idea, what if they made themselves a depository for empty bread bags, and re-used those? they're mostly clear.

Another idea is get in touch with below stockists and see if they have access to any clear compost-able bags, or accept that see through is not going to happen and use what compost-able bags are already on the market. People won't need to see whats in it, if they can trust the seller to only put in premium specimens, not try to flog off the old stock in disguise.

Compostable veggie bags - not see through

Chef_ange164, Jun 1, 10:45 pm

My sister in law gets hers delivered in cardboard boxes instead.
Next time you do an order ask if they can do this for you. Only problem is she then has a huge pile of cardboard to dispose of but she can put it out in her recycling.

Chef_pamellie, Jun 1, 11:47 pm

A lot of bags (compostable, string, whatever) other than plastic are simply not practical because of cost. You can't put $1.99 worth of fruit in a reusable bag that costs over $1.00. But if each buyer re-used each bag, that immediately halves the number of bags going into the sea (or landfill).

I remember years ago paying 3 or 4 times as much to buy bulk 'biodegradable bags' to replace the singlet bags I used. And now, of course, those 'biodegradable' bags are themselves suspect because they degrade into minute particles.

Chef_cosimo, Jun 2, 2:34 am

I don't think that would work. Being able to see what you are buying is important, and being able to seal the bags is as well, otherwise the local kids might nick a plum or two from each bag and the buyers end up being short-changed.

I love the thinking that's going on, though. Keep it coming,,,,,

Chef_cosimo, Jun 2, 2:39 am

great thread. cosimo. got us thinking of just how much we have got used to plastic bags.

Chef_pickles7, Jun 2, 5:39 am

Chef_davidt4, Jun 2, 9:49 pm

Very interesting, and in part, the reasoning behind not wanting to use paper bags instead of plastic ones.

Perhaps I will refer this article to my fruit shop owners, and they can rest easy about selling cheap reusable shopping totes - or even supplying single use bags to the terminally unaware - and continue to bag their small stuff in small plastic bags.

Chef_cosimo, Jun 2, 10:33 pm

Update: While shopping this morning, I saw this sign outside the fruit shop:

Plastic free fruit and veges.

They now have the fruit in the outside bins loose, and no longer sealed in single use bags. They provide a small bag for buyers to fill while selecting their produce (in addition to the basket), but then tip the produce into the buyers own bag - and reuse the small bag.

They very quickly sold all the re-usable bags I sold them (cost price) and have asked for more.

They are brave - less than usual of the outside stuff is selling, but it is early days.

The world is turning.

Chef_cosimo, Jun 16, 4:56 am

They (the check out people) would be taught to pack it that way! I don't mean each item in a single bag, but you wouldn't want the smelly soap powder in with your raw chicken would you?

Chef_rainrain1, Jun 16, 5:08 am

I have three re-usable bags. Enough to separate the meat, the veges and the packaged stuff (where the soap powder goes). After all, it's a local shop and I am home in less than 15 minutes.

Chef_cosimo, Jun 16, 5:31 am

In Countdown Upper Hutt they were selling reusable produce bags, I think about $8-9 for three (was in March, and I was on a mission so only glanced and thought it was a brilliant idea and that I would buy some when I got home). But I have not seen them at any other supermarket that I frequent.

Chef_unknowndisorder, Jun 16, 6:38 am

That sounds quite expensive. Were they see through? I can't think of anything but plastic that is completely clear.

I am guilty of putting bulk nuts etc into the zip bags provided. Then I decant them into my jars and chuck the bags out. I wonder how practical it would be to save the bag for each kind of nut (known only by the code) to use the next time? Bit of a stretch, I think.

Chef_cosimo, Jun 16, 6:57 am

You must have some fussy old tarts up your way ;-)

Chef_rainrain1, Jun 16, 6:58 am

Wow, how interesting! Especially comparing the composition and use of a supermarket bag versus bin liner.

Chef_trah, Aug 25, 1:54 am