Cooling the Globe, One Bag at a TIme

We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if mankind is to survive.”
—Albert Einstein

If you’re reading this blog, you’re probably already conscientious about the environment and about reducing your carbon footprint. You likely already reduce, reuse, and recycle. And when you go to the grocery store, you bring in bins and fabric bags to avoid adding more plastic bags to landfill sites. Good for you.

Now when you’re in the grocery store and you visit the produce section, what do you use to put your produce in? If you’re like most people, you grab plastic bags from large rolls and put separate produce items in each one. And there you go, adding to the plastic bag problem. Ah, but some of you are quick to point out that you bring in mesh bags for produce. When you remember. Made of polyester, a synthetic material. (Although 66% of it is recycled polyester, so that should count for something, right?)

Let me introduce you to “In the Mesh.” Owner Shantelle Moore was inspired by a local Loblaws Superstore in Milton, Ontario where she lives because the store decided to completely do away with plastic bags for groceries. You couldn’t even pay the typical five cent surcharge to get one. If you didn’t bring in your own bags, the only option was to buy the 99 cent fabric ones the store offered which many people use these days.

But head over to the produce section and plastic bags are still the most common way to buy produce. And since these plastic bags are so lightweight and flimsy, they don’t find many other uses once you get them home, so they typically go right into the garbage.

Shantelle figured there must be better alternatives specifically for reusable produce bags but online searches led to nothing too interesting. Since she couldn’t find anything that was to her liking, she decided to start making them herself. Instead of synthetic materials, she opted to use cotton for the bags. The medium- and large-sized bags have mesh incorporated into their design (thus, the name of the company) so you can see the contents inside, and cotton is used for that as well so these bags are 100 percent natural.

And they’re fun, too! On her website, you can find all sorts of interesting patterns to choose from, so you can make sure your personality shines through in your choices. Bags come in four sizes from small to extra large, and the mesh means you don’t have to take items out when you’re at the checkout counter. And since the produce can breathe, bags can go right from the store to the refrigerator. They’re also meant to be either hand or machine washable in cold water and hung to dry, so they’re easy to use.

Shantelle points out that most of the orders she gets are for two sets of small, medium and large bags because that’s what covers most grocery produce purchases. “The large bags hold 10-12 medium sized apples, the medium bags are perfect for a couple of large sweet potatoes or zucchini, and the small bags are great for heads of garlic or herbs.”

In addition to the produce bags, Shantelle has delved into making gift wine bags which are also made from cotton. “Our wine bags are the perfect way to present a carefully selected bottle of wine!” the website enthusiastically boasts. They’re certainly something that will stand out compared with the usual paper bags most gift bottles of wine are delivered in. And more likely to be reused as well. (Nothing wrong with regifting if it’s green!) Staying true to the company’s name, the wine bags also have mesh built into them so you can see the bottle’s label.

In the Mesh has had orders from all over North America and they can ship worldwide. Gift certificates are also available. Using social networking, Shantelle uses both Facebook and Twitter so the message continues to grow: you don’t have to use plastic produce bags or reusable polyester ones any longer.

Someone who has started a company like In the Mesh must be conscientious about other green efforts around the house, so I asked Shantelle what measures she takes to live green. “For me, being ‘green’ is an ever-evolving process. In our home, we are very conscious about energy usage and try our best to limit the use of large appliances (dishwasher, clothes dryer) and we try to walk, rather than using our car, as much as we can. Additionally, it is an ongoing mission to try to re-purpose items before deciding to throw them away. Sometimes a little creative thinking is all it takes to save stuff from hitting the landfill!”

I always applaud efforts like this which is the main reason I wanted to write about Shantelle’s efforts with In the Mesh. I think more people need to know about options like this. You can never underestimate the power small steps will have on reducing waste and helping to preserve our environment.

Like their slogan says, they’re cooling the globe, one bag at a time.

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