UPDATE: The winner of the mesh produce bags is Lisa Atherton Smith, who commented on Green Garbage Project’s Facebook page,
“I would love bags like this. My kitchen tip-Instead of buying cleanser or soft scrub clean your sink with a mixture of half borax and half baking soda. Both come in cardboard boxes.Store and sprinkle it out of a repurposed parm. cheese container.”
I was wandering through my local Fred Meyer last night, trying to find a product I could use as a giveaway this week. In the produce section, I stumbled across these neat Earthwise mesh produce bags. I picked up a set for me and a set to be used as my giveaway this week.
Then I got the bags home. First, let me say they are cool. I really like them, they are durable, they can easily replace single-use plastic produce bags from the grocery store, and you can wash your produce directly in the bag. I put several varieties of produce in the bags and carried them around, ran them under the faucet, and was very pleased.
What I am not pleased about, however, is the packaging. When I grabbed these in the store, I assumed (and we all know where that gets a person) they were packaged on a cardboard recyclable tag. Nope. Turns out that the EarthWise company chose to attach their mesh bags to a plastic tag instead. Plastic! When the very point of the company is to reduce our plastic use in the first place!
Discovering this, I sent the company the following letter (feel free to use part or all of my verbage in your own letters to companies that greenwash their products):
I recently invested in several sets of your “Reusable mesh produce sacks” from my local Fred Meyer. I plan to use some of these bags for me, and others I will give away on my blog www.greengarbageproject.com This blog’s purpose is to track my efforts to reduce my personal “trash footprint” to its very bare minimum. As such, while I find your bags to be an extremely useful product, I am writing to ask about your packaging.
The bags came attached with a stretchy cord to a tag. In the store, I was under the impression that this tag was cardboard, and therefore recyclable. Unfortunately, upon closer inspection, it appears as if the tag you use is actually plastic. This choice of packaging disappoints me, and I’m left feeling as if I purchased a “greenwashed” as opposed to truly green product.
Are you able to tell me what the cording and tag are made of? I’m hoping, at the very least, that the plastic is recyclable. I will post your answer on my blog.
I urge you to consider using earth-friendly packaging in the future, to truly make your product “earthwise.”
As soon as I get a response, I’ll post an update here.
Update: Here’s the response I received from the company:
I understand your concern, however, given that the produce environment is a wet environment we were unable to use paper to hold the product in place. The bag is designed to significantly reduce single use plastic bag usage over its lifetime, however, plastic products are ubiquitous in our world and a reusable bag cannot remove the need for all plastic products.
We are constantly looking for ways to reduce the needs for plastic and will always strive to find ways to minimize our use of it. In the meantime, however, we sometimes have to utilize the material in order to deliver our environmentally conscientious products to the marketplace.
Given your very legitimate concern about the recyclability of the plastic, as well as other similar inquiries received since our launch, we are sending a sample of the plastic card to Waste Management in order to determine what number it may be recycled at on the plastics scale. Once we have this information we will forward to you.
In addition, when we print a new batch of the stock cards we will include the recycle symbol and plastics number directly on the card in order to encourage recycling by consumers in the future.
With thanks for your continued environmental support
Hmmm. I don’t buy it, because about two days after I sent my email, I wandered into Whole Foods and found these mesh produce bags by Blue Avocado.
They were hanging in the produce section and packaged using only cardboard. Somehow, all the moisture in the air wasn’t causing the bags to disintegrate on the spot. Looks to me like the Earthwise company needed to do a little more R&D before launching their product.
Nevertheless, buying or making mesh produce bags to avoid the throwaway plastic ones is still a good idea.
In the meantime, I will certainly add these mesh bags to my collection. I’ll also give away a set of three mesh bags, considering that 3 reusable bags should save a lot of resources – meaning one small plastic tag might make up for itself in saved plastic bags.
If you want to be entered for these bags, leave a comment here or on my Facebook page telling me what you are doing to reduce trash in the kitchen. If it’s something I haven’t thought of, I’ll enter your name twice.
If you don’t happen to win, but you’d like to purchase your own mesh produce bags, there are many stores on Etsy that sell these bags for a reasonable price. There are also tons of patterns online, if you’re interested. On Etsy or when searching for a pattern, use the words “mesh produce bags.”