From single use plastic bags to reusable cotton bags
Wanting badly to minimize the amount of single use plastic I would previously see pile up around me after a trip to the grocery store I started looking into other options.
I started out with 3 drawstring mesh nets that I found at my local market and I soon after bought the bags you see in the picture above (see below for links). I have some for all my veggies and fruits (the nets) and some for flour, nuts, grains (the cotton bags) etc.
The difficulty in the beginning was remembering to actually bring the bags to the store but I quickly got into the habit and now its just a new normal.
These are obviously ideal for Farmers Markets and stores with great bulk sections, here in San Francisco that would be places like Rainbow Grocery, Berkeley Bowl, Whole Foods, Natural Foods etc but even places like Safeway and Trader Joes have some bulk options so I bring them regardless of where I plan on going and then use them where ever I can.
If you are new to shopping in the bulk section here is how it works. Find the item you are looking for, fill as much as you need into your reusable bag, there are usually scales so you can check weight as you go. When finished you grab one of the (usually provided) tags to write down the item number which is located at the front of the items container. I never worried about the fact that the bag weighs something too as it is so little. But with glass jars you would note down the weight of the empty container on a sticker on stick it to the jar. The cashier would then deduct that when you pay so you only pay for the weight of the item itself.
I bought my reusable produce bags from Simple Ecology and am really happy with the bags. I use them all the time and if they get dirty I simply wash them in the washing machine. 2 years in and they are still in really good condition.
For veggies and fruits I use the mesh reusable produce bags (set of 6 bags): https://www.simpleecology.com/shop/organic-cotton-mesh-produce-bags
For flour, nuts and grains I use the organic cotton muslin bags (set of 6 bags): https://www.simpleecology.com/shop/organic-cotton-muslin-produce-bags
This is a small change with a big impact. It makes me feel good knowing that I use less single use plastic than I did before. I really enjoy picking out my own food and only buying the quantity I need (thereby also reducing future food waste).
I highly encourage you to give it a try!
The next step for me is bringing reusable glass jars for the likes of different types of oils and fresh made almond butter! That change is still under way but I am working on make it more of a habit.