How to buy and store produce without plastic

What do you say when your grocer asks you, paper or plastic? Does it depend on your mood? On what you buy? On who’s around to help you carry your bags? And when you get the bags home, what do you do with them? Toss, recycle, or reuse? 

  1. From the time you buy an item until you get it home and put it away, how long does the average shopper actually use a plastic shopping bag? Answer: Less than one hour.*
  2. How many plastic shopping bags do you think Americans use every year? Answer: About 14 billion.
  3. What percentage of plastic bags are returned for recycling? Answer: One percent.
  4. How many paper bags do you think we use every year? Answer: About 10 billion. 
  5. And how many trees do you think are cut to produce those paper bags? Answer: About 14 billion.

*Answers are based on Waste Management’s “Bags by the Numbers”.

You can see where we are going with this: There isn’t a right answer to the paper-versus-plastic debate. Or is there? How about neither. We have zero-waste solutions to grocery shopping and food storage that not only reduces waste and helps the environment, but it also keeps your food fresher and lasting longer. 

How to Buy Produce Without Plastic

The year 2020 has changed the way we shop for produce. Not long ago we could reuse our plastic shopping bags; however, to reduce the transmission of germs and infectious diseases, many retailers had to ban reusable plastics. So, not only are plastics a blight on the environment but for the small percentage of us who recycle and reuse them, the coronavirus challenges our environmental efforts. 

Our canvas food storage bags are the perfect solution to single-use plastic shopping bags. They are lightweight and machine washable, and you can safely use them for fruits and veggies stored on the countertop, refrigerator and freezer. They close with a drawstring, so it’s easy to carry. It also works great with bread, pasta and other food items.

How to Store Vegetables and Fruits in the Fridge Without Plastic

When it comes to storing produce in the refrigerator without using plastics, we recommend using beeswax, which is a naturally biodegradable and compostable material. Beeswax wraps can be reused for about one year, as long as you wash them in cool water with a soft soap. We recommend using any soap that you’d use to clean your fruits and vegetables. 

Not only are plastic airtight containers and bags bad for the environment, but they can speed up spoilage. Produce needs to breathe, and when you store it in sealed plastic bags, the gases that they produce — which they need to ripen — speed up the ripening process. It also creates a little petri dish for bacteria to grow.

Keep your food fresh longer

We are very excited about our collection of sustainable food storage wraps. Bee’s Wrap products will help you eliminate the need for plastic wrap and zip-lock plastic bags. They are made in the U.S.A. from beeswax, organic jojoba, tree resin and organic cotton, and they last up to a year. You can wash them in cool water with a gentle soap — anything you’d use to wash your produce can be used to wash the Bee’s Wrap food wraps. 

You can use Bee’s Wrap reusable food wraps and storage to:

  • Wrap sandwiches and fruits for brown-bag lunches
  • Cover bowls of leftovers in the fridge
  • Seal bread, cheese, and veggies 
  • Save partially used large produce items like melons, avocados and tomatoes

We do not recommend using the beeswax wraps for storing raw meat, including fish; for that, we recommend glass food storage containers that seal tightly and can be washed by hand or dishwasher in hot, soapy water.

Benefits of Beeswax for Food Storage

In addition to protecting and preserving your fruits and vegetables, the beeswax can be returned to the earth to decompose. 

The maker of the Bee’s Wrap recommends using the wraps for up to a year, as long as you clean them and follow directions for proper use, which we have to say are pretty easy to follow! Using the warmth of your hands, form the beeswax wrap around the container of food that you want to save. Safely store it in the refrigerator. When finished using it, wash in cool water and allow to air dry. 

After a year of use, you can compost the beeswax wraps or use them as fire starters for a campfire, grill or wood stove. 

You will love the beeswax food wraps because they are easy to use, reusable, and they have a long shelf life for protecting your fruits and vegetables. 

Shinbone Alley is committed to finding sustainable and innovative ways to live. Our products are sourced from makers who share our commitment to zero-waste solutions to grocery shopping and food storage. 

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