‘Control yourself, take only what you need from it’

I’m definitely not the greenest person out there but I try to do what I can to think of the earth and not be wasteful.  I recycle (fanatically as Tony might tell you), I reuse and repurpose items whenever I can and I try REALLY hard to not use disposable items like plastic bags .. which is what this post is about.

I’ve been using reusable canvas grocery bags for years but every time I went to the store I still ended up bring home plastic bags from the produce department.  Broccoli, lemons, tomatoes, brussel sprouts, asparagus, onions.. before you know it there are 6 plastic bags in your cart.  Bags that just get thrown away and then clog up our landfills for hundreds if not thousands of years.  I’ve been saying for awhile that I wanted some sort of reusable bags for my produce.  Something I could bring with me to the store and use over and over again.  So today I made them!

And here’s how…..

I wanted something REALLY lightweight because I didn’t want it to add weight to the produce that needed to be weighed by the cashier.  I was looking for a really thin cotton but all I could find was cheesecloth.  It was a little more challenging since it has a wider weave but definitely usable.  I’ve never been a fan of stark white things so I decided to tea-stain the material first to give it a more off-white natural look.

All you have to do is boil water and basically make a huge pot of tea.  I tried sleepytime tea first (because I don’t like it and didn’t want to waste the good stuff) but then then ended up adding 3 of the yummy Chai tea bags to it because it was the only thing that would make the tea dark enough.  Then I threw in a blueberry tea bag too just for good measure.
Once it’s dark enough and cools a little I put all the cheesecloth in.. I just left it as it was in the package because I didn’t want it to get all tangled up.  I poured some white vinegar in the mix to.  I’m not exactly sure if it helps the color stick or not but it just seemed like something my grandma would do.Once it set for about 20-30 minutes I took it out and rinsed it and hung it up to dry.  None of this is necessary for the bags but I just wanted to turn the material off-white.I cut the bags the size I wanted, folded the material in half and sewed up the sides, folding over and sewing a hem at the top as well so I could later thread a drawstring through.  

I left a few of the bags with just the cheesecloth to hold lighter items like herbs and kale but I found some vintage material that I sewed to most of them to reinforce the bottom for heavier items like sweet potatoes and other vegetables.  Plus I just liked how it looked.

For those I had to sew the fabric to the cheesecloth first before sewing the bag together.  Just remember if you are doing anything like that the fabric goes on the inside when sewing the bag because you turn it right side out when you are done.. See above right photo and you can see the fabric bottom is on the inside.

I just used embroidery floss that I had on hand for the drawstring and tied an old button to the end just to help find the end of the drawstring easily.  Voila!!  my new produce bags!!

Blog title lyric from ‘Kids’ by MGMT .. watch the video here

  • Julie Oliver - This is an awesome idea. I am also bugged about the quantity of plastic bags we acquire at our house. We try to bring them back to recycling boxes or reuse them but still too much plastic going on!!

    Shared it on Pinterest 🙂

  • Nicole - WOW! these are amazing!

  • Sarah - This is great! I have some reusable produce bags from Crate & Barrel, but there are many times where I don’t have enough! I might have to try making my own instead of buying some more. 🙂

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