Shirt into Produce Bags

This journey can feel a bit like I am stuck on the swings and roundabouts. I take a step forward only to find that I need to take a step back, go round in circles researching, before I can then move forwards again!

Yesterday I won a battle for no single-use plastic bags for fruit and veg however, I already knew that paper bags aren’t actually any better for the environment! I have therefore had a plan in the pipeline to address this issue too.

The thing is we need to be focusing on reducing and reusing packaging rather than just finding substitute materials. Plastic bags are actually almost better than paper as long as you reuse them and then make sure that they are recycled properly. Paper bags unfortunately have an even larger carbon footprint than plastic bags as their production uses so much more energy, the bags are not built to last and they are not very easy to recycle into quality materials. (You need to use them at least three times to make them better than plastic.)

Even the new compostable bags are shockingly not that environmentally friendly as they can actually a problem to recycle. A lot of companies are therefore now selling reuseable cotton bags, however even organic cotton is very demanding on the environment to produce. (It takes 20,000 litres of water to make 1kg of cotton.) A new cotton bag needs to be used 131 times before it is more environmentally friendly than a single use plastic bag! So what do I do?

I decided that my best option was to therefore make my own cotton fruit and veg bags out of one of hubby’s old work shirts that was going to be recycled. So I borrowed my grandmother’s old sewing machine from my mum and tried to remember my GCSE sewing skills!

It took me about 3 hours but I am so pleased with the results. I have used almost every inch of the shirt (apart from the collar) and have made 7 bags. 5 of them have drawstring tops and the other two use the buttons that were on the shirt. I even made one of the cuffs into a bag to keep them all in. I have one cuff left to make another storage bag and a bit of material around the collar to make a pouch for my hankies so almost zero waste.

Charity shops often have a lot of sewing materials and equipment if you need it, I got my thread and string (for the drawstring) from my local charity shop and it cost me less than £1.

It was so easy to do and I am now checking the house for any other material I can use to make some more! Hubby better hide his favourite shirts!

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