Friday, July 27, 2012

Day 6: Making Reusable Produce Bags



The Task:  Sew some reusable produce bags. 

The Why: Even though I bring reusable shopping bags to the grocery store it is still so easy to come home with a lot of extra packaging waste.  Using reusable mesh bags for produce will cut down on some of that waste.

I know that it's possible to buy reusable produce bags, but they seemed easy enough to make myself.

The How:  I purchase 1 metre (a little more than a yard) of sheer fabric.  Sheer curtain fabric is often much wider than ordinary fabric, so 1 metre was more than enough to make 8 produce bags.  You could also recycle an old set of sheer curtains for this project!

Step one: Cut a square of fabric that is approximately 22 by 16 inches.


Step 2: Fold one edge in and stitch to make a casing for the drawstring.


Step 3: Fold in half and stitch side and bottom closed.  Be careful to stitch only up to the bottom of the casing you just made.  You want to be able to get your drawstring in later!


Step 4: Zig-zag stitch around the bottom and side that you just sewed to prevent fraying.


Step 5: Turn the bag right-side-out and use a safety pin to push a piece of  ribbon or string (I used scrap pieces of bias tape) through the casing and tie the ends together.


Done!

Total time spent: Using a sewing machine, less than an hour to make 8 bags.

Total cost: 4 dollars worth of fabric.

The Verdict: These were super easy to make, and if they save us from using 8 plastic produce bags a week, that's 416 bags a year!  If we can inspire 1200 other people to do it, that's half a million bags a year!
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37 comments:

  1. So simple! Love it. Thank you.

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  2. I've never sewed before but I'm going to try & make these bags. You've inspired me.. so, only 1,199 people to go! :)

    Can you wash these in the washing machine?

    ~M~

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    1. Yay! Yes, you can wash them in the washing machine. I'll only wash mine when they really need it though because the loose weave of the sheer fabric is sure to start to fray after a while.

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    2. Loving this new blog and challenge!

      I made a bunch of these 3-4 years ago...about 12, in different sizes. (We're whole food vegetarians, so we eat a LOT of produce!)
      Anyway, I used old sheer curtains bought at Goodwill, and they are lasting so well! I rinse them in the sink when they become empty, they dry on the line or towel rack in 30 minutes or less, and I only wash them in the washer when they have stains.

      I also find that the produce lasts longer before going bad. The fabric lets the food "breathe", and lets moisture evaporate rather than stay on and make my veggies slimy. So, I save money another way, by not tossing away food that went bad before we ate it.

      BUT wait, there's more! lol They make great gifts... SO easy to make, and (so far) always appreciated, and used. I use drawstrings to fit the personality of the givee (or use sheer bag fabric in colors..greens, blues, whites, etc) and I save money, shopping temptations, time and the land.

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  3. This is such a great idea. I usually just put my produce right into the grocery cart and then wash it when I get home, but this would really make things easier! Putting shear curtain fabric on my list for JoAnn's!

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    1. Ah, thank you. I was wondering what produce bags would accomplish since my produce bag waste is from pre-bagged produce. You gotta assume that everything in the grocery store has been on the floor or touched by a kid with a runny nose anyway.

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  4. Genius :)
    I am embarrassed that it never even crossed my mind to have something like this! I hate having plastic bags from produce but just figured it was what it was. You rock, Kelly!

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  5. What a fantastic idea!! Can't wait to start using bags like this for my own produce!

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  6. Great idea! For all the non-sewers like me...I am going to use some of the mesh laundry/lingerie bags instead. So glad to stop tossing those plastic bags - thank you!

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    1. I like your thinking! Lingerie bag, here I come!

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  7. You can count me toward your 1200 people, Kelly. Is there a trick to sewing with sheer fabric? Tension or stitch size? It intimidates me a bit...

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    1. When I was at the fabric store I felt all the sheers and picked one that wasn't too slippery. I didn't have any issues sewing it at all!

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    2. Thanks, Kelly! I need some perpective on this - it's a shopping bag not a prom dress. What's the worst that could happen? :)

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  8. I have been making these for a while and the only things I do different are use shoelaces instead of fabric/ribbon scraps for the top strings and I use toggles on mine so that you can pull them closed like any other drawstring bag.

    As an alternative you could just add the drawstring part to the plastic mesh
    bags that some freggies (oranges, potatoes)come in, but I wouldn't put these ones in the washer.

    Also at some grocery stores they will weigh your bag separately so that you don't have to pay for the weight of your bags.

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  9. I bought some bags like this with a very small mesh that are excellent for gathering and drying seeds. We have used them for the small amount of buckwheat and barley that we experimented with - and also for peas. Easy to hang anywhere - works well for some of the sturdy herbs too. Thanks for the great idea - I'm sure we'll be making more because the uses are endless!

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  10. I have some that I use as produce bag when shopping. I also use them as snack bags instead of ziplocks. I can toss a handful of dried fruit and almonds and bring it to work as my afternoon snack. I toss them in the washer and line-dry as needed. Love them!

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  11. The stores don't look at you funny when you put stuff in your own bag?

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    1. I guess that would probably depend on where you live. Where I live, bags similar to these are available for purchase at some grocery stores, so no...there's nothing weird about using a reusable bag. But blogging has taught me that things are so different from city to city...so maybe if people in your grocery store have never seen a reusable produce bag before they'll look at you a bit funny. Or maybe they'll decide you're a genius! lol.

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    2. I definitely do not live in civilization ;) Who knows!

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    3. My mom does this and it gave me a heart attack because I thought we were going to be accused of stealing. I decided to go to the service desk before my shop, show them my bags and ask if it was OK. What it did was give me peace of mind that if anyone questioned me I had cleared it with management first.

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  12. I also like to use these for laundry use (make them out of a little heavier material). It makes life so much simpler to have the kids put in their dirty socks and underwear. Just toss it in the washer and dryer and back to the drawer. Helps keep them together and for tiny socks, keeps them from getting lost.

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  13. I am so excited about this post!! I have two sets of old, pretty sheer curtains (in both lavendar and sage), that have been sitting around for years on a box...I finally have a new use for them....making them next week or the week after during my sewing day!!! YAY!! (so they will also be free....I may even have enough to share with my sewing partner in crime!) Thanks for sharing:o)

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  14. Terrific! For those non sewers out there Etsy is another resource for finding produce bags. Also, I'm not a fan of dollar stores (cheap disposable foreign made goods = what's wrong with USA/Canada) but the Dollar Tree carries mesh bags made by Blink called Tidy Totes (they are bright green) - you get four mesh bags for a dollar and then you're done.

    Can't wait to see what tomorrow brings :)

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  15. Terrific! For those non sewers out there Etsy is another resource for finding produce bags. Also, I'm not a fan of dollar stores (cheap disposable foreign made goods = what's wrong with USA/Canada) but the Dollar Tree carries mesh bags made by Blink called Tidy Totes (they are bright green) - you get four mesh bags for a dollar and then you're done.

    Can't wait to see what tomorrow brings :)

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  16. Kelly, I just love this blog and I'm finding it inspirational. I have been wondering how to stop using all those flimsy plastic bags in the fruit'n'veg section and woohoo here you have the answer. Thanks from Australia!

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  17. Kelly, I just love this blog and I'm finding it inspirational. I have been wondering how to stop using all those flimsy plastic bags in the fruit'n'veg section and woohoo here you have the answer. Thanks from Australia!

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  18. Love this!! Cannot wait to make them. Very inspiring blog - love the ideas and I've even decided to do the dryer free month in August!!

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  19. count me in, moment i get some money for fabric im making these!! I actually just stopped using the bags and let me veggies roam free. Though I hate it, I hate those bags even more. Plus at my stores you can never find them when you need them! Love this blog, its so inspiring.

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  20. Well I didn't want to post anonymously, but I'm like, so not blog savvy yet. Anyway, this post is great! I am totally going to make some of these. And as someone who can sew just your very basic stitch, I love your sewing tutorials. Even I could do that! lol I found you a little while back through pinterest and loved you Imperfect homemaking blog, and now I excited to read this one as well. Have a great week :)

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    1. Oh hey look I figured it out! ha!

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  21. This is something I've never thought about! We take reusable shopping bags with us, but use the plastic produce bags. This is definitely on my list of things to rectify. Thanks for sharing :)

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  22. I want to make some of these, too - so brilliant! (I just love following your blog and your Year of Less - so many wonderful ideas).

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  23. Why didn't I think of making these before? Saw them available on Amazon and liked the idea. Very interesting (and inspiring) challenge you are doing. I'm not sure I'm ready to do everything you are, but it's still a nudge in the right direction. I'm enjoying reading all your ideas and glad I clicked on the link my friend posted on Facebook!

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  24. Thanks for the tutorial! I linked to it on our blog! Come check it out http://youpinspireme.blogspot.ca/2012/08/reusable-produce-bags.html

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  25. Like you I've been faithfully taking my cloth bags to the grocery store for over 15 years, but never thought to tackle the plastic produce bag problem. We often use them to pick up doggie doo, but still have way too many plastic bags. Off to JoAnn's with a coupon to make myself some mesh produce bags. Thanks for the tutorial.

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  26. This is definitely on my Christmas list as a great gift giving idea. I know my sisters will look at me strangely at first but once they figure out they can replace the produce plastic bags I think they will be delighted. Thanks so much for helping us to see beyond our habits.

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  27. Thanks for the blog I have some reusable produce bags from Re-Sack but I need some more as I always are buying more fruits then I can carry with my produce bags.

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