There are lots of other roads that plastic takes into our house, though. I was flicking through Facebook a fortnight or so ago when I saw an ad for Plastic-Free July. I made a pledge - avoid the top four single-use plastic items for the whole month. Drinking straws is easy - we never eat takeaways and thus avoid places where straws are provided. Plastic bottles is also fairly straightforward - in a regular month, we don't often go anywhere to purchase drinks. We drink tap water at home and at work, and if we do go out for an adventure we bring a stainless steel bottle of water with us. Coffee cup lids are a little trickier, mainly because getting them is so automatic. But, when I go for coffee (actually, chai) with people, we have in almost 100% of the time. So I can do this one easily if I avoid the two or three coffee places at JCU that serve only in takeaway cups. The final item in the top 4 is plastic bags. My overly-long intro to this post talks about grocery bags. But what about other plastic bags?
Produce bags are more common in our grocery- and market-trips than plastic shopping bags. Until May, we had been using them daily as Andy's sandwich bags. He would even bring them home to re-use if they were clean enough. And we use them every now and then in places where we might otherwise use cling wrap. But for Andy's birthday I got him a most excellent sandwich container - plastic! but re-usable - that is big enough to fit our homemade bread. So we began accumulating produce bags, too.
I was inspired by a link from Plastic-Free July to a tutorial on re-usable produce bags. I looked at it, got the gist, and then made them on a Saturday morning. I used a piece of mesh fabric - mosquito-net style - that we had laying around. I didn't really measure the fabric, but cut it into different sizes. Working slowly, with plenty of interruptions, it took me about 3 hours to make about 8 bags. I think I'd be quicker next time, now that I know what I'm doing.
I used yarn instead of ribbons for drawstrings, and I love the rainbow I've got to shop with.
We tried them out with stuff from the garden, because Andy was skeptical - he thought they would be annoying.
|Yellow passion fruits, yum.|
But the next day we brought them to the markets. We couldn't use them for the first half of the markets. I was disappointed - first we bought things that we don't put in bags, like bananas, and there were heaps of stalls selling items pre-bagged. But in the second half of the market we got to use them, which was very exciting for me! (Simple pleasures?)
As I was making them, I thought about how multi-use these bags are. They are basically the same as a delicates bag that you might use in the washing machine. When I posted a picture of the bags on my Facebook page (have you liked it yet?) Cate and Melissa both talked about using them for toys and crayons and other things. Andy came up with a good use for them after our tomatoes were eaten by a mouse or rat.
|Protecting ripening tomatoes from a hungry pest.|
In the two weeks since making them, we have put them to use several times. They store fairly small, so I can keep some in my bag, and they weigh about 10 grams each so they don't add much to the cost of produce. They were worth making with the free ingredients I had on hand, but I think I would even go out of my way to get more material.