Plastic is one of the miracles of modern life. Using plastic in cars makes them lighter and more fuel-efficient. Plastics might help people "feel" their prosthetic limbs (which are also made with plastic) . The computer I'm typing on is made with a good bit of plastic.
I don't have a problem with plastic, per se, but with "disposable plastic" -- all the single-use items that have come to define our Disposable Society that trades short-term convenience for long-term headaches. Plastic bags are the second-most common type of ocean refuse (after cigarette butts), and they stay toxic even after they break down. In the U.S., we use 100 billion of these single-use bags every year, costing retailers some $4 billion annually.
Plastic shopping bags at my house generally get at most one more use, usually lining a bathroom trash can, which is more than I can say for the flimsy produce bags. And once I got to thinking about it, I didn't see the inherent need to put little individual baggies around everything. What harm will truly come from the red bell pepper touching the zucchini?
Managing fine without the single-use baggies.
Using the hand basket in my cart at the grocery store is super-simple way to avoid the produce bags. I've found that it's quite easy to arrange the produce in groups in the grocery checkout line so that (1) the checker can ring things up in a group, and (2) I can ensure that firmer items like onions and potatoes get rung up/bagged first, and softer things like peaches/pears go on top.
As you can see from my grocery cart, I don't avoid plastic altogether (the deli meat is in a single-use bag), but I do my best to limit it. Ideally I'd bring my own container for the deli meat, but at this point I am doing well to remember my reusable bags, so the bonus here is that I don't have to remember anything!
You can buy reusable produce bags for as little as a few dollars each, but I've been shopping this way for more than a year now and truly don't see the need.
I've got a pot of beans in the back, and I think I'm going to try some red bean hummus. I've become a bean convert after reading (and subsequently purchasing) An Everlasting Meal; cooking them with Tamar Adler's method and mindset yields an abundance of blessings, for both palate and soul.
It's a busy week, but I think we're in good shape. In the foil packs are leftover chicken ( which I am planing to freeze for easy chicken-noodle soup on the first chilly/rainy day) and country ribs (which I can't eat so spouse will probably take for lunch). We've got plenty of fruit (there are still local-ish peaches here, but they're going fast), cucumbers, squash, tons of yellow peppers from my dad, two pints of yogurt and a little half-pint of almond pesto. You can see some homemade sauerkraut on the top shelf; I've been making an active effort to consume more fermented items, and find that this crunchy kraut is great on a sandwich!
Also (not pictured) I have my first butternut and acorn squash, though I know I'll pick up several more at our last Farmer's Market. I'm thinking to do soup with white beans for the acorn squash, and probably roast the butternut and toss with pasta and the rest of that leftover chicken. I also have a few Brandywines I need to pick before the critters get to them and one gorgeous eggplant that will probably have to become Eggplant Parmesan.
I really love Eggplant Parm, but if no one else was enthusiastic about it, I'd probably make that dish once during the growing season, and just roast or sauté the eggplant the rest of the time (which the kids will eat, but not much and not with gusto). This will be the third time this summer for me to make this dish, and it's because...well, who could say "no" to a 6-year-old who begs for eggplant? Not me!