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Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2010 02:59 pm

Conservation Consumerism: Green Bags

I don't make a lot of New Year's resolutions, but I did stick to one this year: stop wasting food.

As a busy undergrad sharing a refrigerator with four other people, I often bought produce and lunch meat and forgot about them, leaving my hard-earned money (OK not that hard-earned, I did data entry for my university and besides being mind-numbingly boring, it was pretty easy) in the garbage. This especially became a problem in the warmer months, as our dumpster didn't have a lid and we had a pretty active wildlife population.

You'll never look at a ham and cheese loaf the same way again, once you've seen its curdled contents spread across your driveway by an angry raccoon. Now that I share an apartment with one other person, it's much easier to manage our fridge.

But last semester, evening classes and late nights put me back in my old habits. I tossed unopened cheese, lettuce and turkey into our trash chute. By the time winter break hit, I was sure I'd wasted at least $60 worth of food.

That's not OK.

My mom, an active food-saver who will continue to transfer leftovers into smaller and smaller containers until they've disappeared, would be ashamed of me. (Hi, Mom. Sorry.) But more importantly, Captain Planet should be coming to beat me up any day now. I'm educated, I (sort of) have money, I care about the Earth -- there's really no excuse for being so wasteful.

I was lamenting my food-saving problems when my mom told me about "green bags." Apparently some of the brands have infomercials, so if you haven't yet discovered them, let me tell you -- they're great!

greenbags.jpg

Green bags look like regular plastic produce bags, except they're designed to keep your fruits and veggies fresher, longer. Made of a thin, filmy yet insulated material, most sets include different-sized bags to store all your produce. (OK, now I do sound like an infomercial. I'll stop.)

There are several different varieties of green bag, and it doesn't matter what kind you get. I'm not hear to sell you a brand or give you a product pitch. I'm just here to say that if, like me, you're looking to keep your salad from going wilty (that's not a euphemism), then this is a great way to do it!

I used my first green bag last week, and my lettuce stayed fresh for about four days longer than normal. It's still in there, and only the very bottom looks brownish. The top pieces seem fine.

Another great bonus is that most brands of green bags are reusable. Until things look/smell gross, you're good to just wash them out and refill.

I have been using the ones from Evert-fresh, which can be purchased at their web site.

I've also seen the Debbie Meyer bags in the produce section at Schucks, and Target. They seem to be the most popular, because apparently they're "As Seen on TV." Sigh. Ridiculous weekend infomercials are one of the things I miss now that I don't have a television.

ReusableBags.com has a great selection of less-known green bags if you prefer a less corporate source. The site has a neat (but depressing) counter that shows the number of plastic bags used this year (around 25 billion when I last checked.)

So if you're looking to save food (and money) and possibly make your mom less ashamed of you, try green bags. Let me know how you like them. Has anyone had any bad experiences? Tell us in the comments!

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