16 March 2012

How to Make Re-usable Veggie Bags

We have become very used to using fabric grocery bags in the last few years but we are still using millions of veggie bags each year (veggie bags are the plastic bags on the roll in the fruit and veg department).

Even if we re-use them over and over they still end up in landfill and they take a very long time to breakdown. If they end up in our waterways the potential damage is even worse. A solution is to use fabric veggie bags and keep a supply on hand, just as we do with the grocery bags.

When I first started using them I'd get some odd looks at the check-out. After an explanation of how I am trying to reduce my impact on the environment and avoid using plastic bags, and that I was prepared to pay the two or three cents more to cover the weight of the bag, it was OK.  In fact these days my regular market stalls and orchards know me and don't even comment any more. Sometimes other customers do though, and I just go through the explanation again.

I’ve made mine out of tulle that I had in the cupboard, left over from our fairy party days and just waiting for another use and an old net curtain. You can use any light weight, sheer fabric. Remember, it has to be light  weight, as it will add to the cost of your produce if it is too heavy. You can use old sheer curtaining (pick up a curtain or two at the op shop, mine cost $1.50 and made dozens of bags, or a garage sale if you don’t have any) or lace if you have it.

To make a veggie bag you will need:
Sheer, light weight fabric measuring 70cm x 50cm – use light tulle, lightweight curtains, nylon etc
1.5 metres of ribbon or strong twine

1.  Cut the tulle into a rectangle measuring 70cm x 50cm

2.  Fold in half widthways – your rectangle should measure 35cm x 50cm

3.  Measure down 2.5cm from top edge on both sides and mark with a pin

4.  Stitch down first side, starting at pin, and along the bottom to the fold. Turn bag inside out.

5.  Starting at the pin, stitch around the bag again, this time along the seam. This will strengthen the seams and make the bag a little stronger.

6.  Make the casing for the ribbon by turning the top edge down 2.5cm and stitching in place.
This makes a casing on the top of the bag.

7.  Thread the ribbon through the casing, leaving a length at each end. Knot the ends together. To close the bag, pull up the ribbon and tie a slip knot.

This makes a bag a little larger than a large plastic veggie bag, perfect for family sized quantities of fruit and vegetables.

I keep my stash of veggie bags in one of the green grocery bags and they live in the boot of the car ready for shopping.  Oh, and you can wash your veggie bags too when they get a little grotty (as they will with use).  I toss them in with the towels or the sheets and line dry and they are as good as new.

It may seem silly to you to be using bags I've made myself, that will add to the final cost of the produce I buy (it's only a couple of cents, the bags are very light) when I'm trying to save money and live to our Spending Plan. I think of it as my contribution to saving the environment.

Plastic bags take a very long time to breakdown, even the ones made of organic material. And they do an almost incomprehensible amount of damage if they get into waterways. Animals get caught up in them, or eat them. If they make it to rivers, streams or the ocean then sea life suffers.

If I can not use just 5 bags a week, that's 260 less plastic bags to destroy the environment. Now imagine if every Cheapskater stopped using just 5 veggie bags a week - how many millions of bags would that keep out of landfill each year?

What an impact one simple, painless little action could have on our world!


  1. Hi, how do these bags affect the produce you place in the fridge? Do they keep them as fresh or fresher or no difference?

    Thank you.

  2. I have never used the plastic veggie bags for cold storage in the fridge. These bags are for carrying only - I don't store my fruit and veg in them. I use either Tupperware containers or gel bags, depending on what and how much I'm storing.

  3. For years I have been using net bags made from old curtains to store my mushrooms in the fridge-the mushrooms can "breath" and keep fresh for a very long time


  4. re your comment - what is a gel bag?

  5. would also make a great wash bag for all those delicate items :)


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