Changing Old Habits

Oh boy, you don’t need to tell me how hard it is to change old habits.  Each year, for example, I remind myself if I could just stick to that diet for ONE year I would manage to lose the excess I’ve been carrying around for decades. But……well, you know the rest of the story.

So, when do I find myself able to make changes? Maybe it’s similar for you. I believe when the change is not that large, it solves a problem, AND it provides an immediate “feel good” result.

Anyone older than 30 can remember going to the grocery store and there were no such thing as plastic shopping bags. Our purchases were piled into brown kraft paper bags. Remember using them for covering books each school year?  Those are pretty sturdy and last a long time.

Meanwhile, I noticed on my first trip overseas in 1972 and then again in 1981 that paper was rarely used, but plastic bags were the thing. Decorated with logos of the shops, with sturdy handles, these heavy plastic bags also could be reused and reused.

However, here in the United States, the chosen option was thinner plastic that is considered a single-use item but might be able to be reused a couple of times. Maybe more for trash collection (just the right size for those bathroom garbage cans)and also appreciated by dog owners who were responsible and picked up the intended droppings of the constitutional stroll.

These plastic bags most often are tossed into the garbage and then head to the landfill. Most end up buried, to stay there to amuse archaeologists 500-1000 years from now.  Others blow around, end up in waterways and then clogging up sea animals’ digestive systems when mistaken for jellyfish or other food.  I wrote about how we are Swimming in Plastic last week.

So, we have a need to change our ways, and here in McMinnville the time is coming. September 1 marks the date when these thin single-use plastic bags will no longer be available at the major supermarkets and stores in town as well as at any event inside the city limits.  McMinnville joins a small but growing community of other cities in Oregon and around the nation where consumers have converted to re-usable bags.

One of the first events where you can obtain a free cloth re-usable tote is on Earth Day, this Saturday. A recycling event will be held at Cascade Steel’s Rolling Mill from 10-2.  You can bring the plastic bags you’ve collected in that drawer or under the kitchen sink and trade them in for a cloth tote. 

There will be other chances to pick up bags, but yard sales are also a place where they may sell for as little as 10 cents. Some stores, like Roth’s, will offer bags for sale. The McMinnville downtown farmers’ market also has bags for sale.

So, when I learned about this coming restriction I really had no issue. We’ve been using cloth totes just about the whole time we’ve lived here.  I’ve learned to immediately hang the totes on the doorknob after I unpack the groceries so I can take them out to the car the next time I go.  Some bags even fold up into their own pocket which permits them to be put into purses.

I got to thinking about the other times I use thin plastic. The bags that are located in the bulk section as well as the produce section will continue to be available. But the problem still exists with these…they are even thinner so don’t get much reuse and again, they will head to the landfill.

I started searching the Internet for alternatives that would be relatively inexpensive and offer multiple re-use and found-and purchased- one product for use in the stores and another to use instead of plastic wrap at home.

Mesh bags are great for collecting produce and bulk products that are not wet. I purchased a set of nine bags that were on sale for $11.97 on Cleaning is easy- you can just drop them into the wash.  I asked the checker on a day that the supermarket was not busy to see what the tare weight was for the largest and it was 0.03 ounce, so may add a penny to the sale. Roth’s will be selling this kinds of bags and will have the tare weight marked. 

Trying to replace the plastic wrap at home has some choices above and beyond plastic or glass containers. I have seen little plastic circles that almost look like something we used to put on the top of soda cans to try to keep the fizz in if we didn’t drink it all.  Made of BPA-free silicone, these caps cover the cut ends of produce, blocking air.  I found a set of four for $11.95 on

Additionally, moving away from plastic,  I found Bee’s Wrap. Made in Vermont, this organic cotton comes in several sizes and is permeated with beeswax. It seals with the heat from your hands. I found a set of three for $19. They also have a sandwich wrap with a tie string to keep it sealed.





These are just a few options that are available to take the place of plastic in the lives of our food. We can do this change and it really won’t be that hard. Now, if anyone has any great ideas how I can magically lose weight this easily, please let me know!


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