BYOB to Farmers’ Market

by Molly Brown, M.A., M.Div

The Mount Shasta Farmers’ Market is open for the season!  The first Market was on May 14, with plant starts, eggs, kombucha, honey, baked goods, produce, pasta, pesto, and other prepared foods, and so much more.

In the past, I’ve been in conversation with the Market managers about the rolls of plastic bags that are available for customer use in the produce booths.  Why doesn’t the Market require compostable bags?  Well, it turns out that when compostable bags get mixed in with plastic bags in recycling, they literally gum up the works.  And it’s very hard to separate compostable bags from plastic bags, because they look pretty much the same.

The Market managers are trying to find solutions to this problem.  I think the compostable bag industry needs to print on their bags in large dark letters: Do Not Recycle!  And as soon as possible, we should mandate that all plastic bags be made of compostable materials and get rid of the recycling problem altogether.

In the meantime, I propose another solution: please, everyone who shops at the Farmers’ Market, BRING YOUR OWN PRODUCE BAGS!  Washing plastic bags is a bit of a hassle, it’s true. If you don’t want the hassle, use cloth bags. Or bring compostable bags from home.  Just be sure not to recycle them.

To safely clean plastic bags, wash them inside and out, rinse, and turn inside out to dry, making sure that the corners are fully “poked out” so no moisture hides in there. Hang to dry, or put a wooden spoon inside and prop in an upright position. (I dry my bags over various kitchen implements, like a mortar and pestle, a clean empty bottle, the cup holders on my drying rack, etc.) When the outside of the bag is dry, turn it right side out again—and reuse!

Let’s stop expecting vendors to provide bags for us (thereby raising their costs and putting more plastic into our over-burdened environment).  We’ve mostly trained ourselves to bringing our own shopping bags to Farmers’ Market and to other stores; let’s take the next step and bring our own produce bags, too. We must end the plastic bag plague that is killing sea life, clogging our waterways, and trashing our landscapes.

Here’s to our new BYOB:  BRING YOUR OWN BAGS when you shop at Farmers’ Market—and the grocery store.