Farmer’s market season is here! If you’re participating in Locavore90, you’ll probably be making a handful of trips to your local farmers market or farmstand. Many farmers market frequent-flyers bring their own reusable grocery bags to the market to bring food home, but have you ever thought about using reusable produce bags as well? Whether you’re shopping at the farmers market or the produce section of Meijer, you can do your part to reduce use of plastic produce bags by bringing your own reusables from home.
In last year’s Farmer’s Report
I shared that I wanted to focus on using more reusable packaging in
2013. As a key part of that commitment, Arcadia Farms is now using
re-usable produce bags which have been handmade in the USA specifically
for our farm by Kara from Love for Earth. Want to get your hands on your own set of reusable bags? Lucky you – we’re giving some away! (You can enter once per day!)
I’m so impressed by the quality, selection and customization options offered by Love for Earth that I asked Kara if I could share a little bit about the work she does and products she offers. Here’s the scoop on what she does, why she loves it, and why you should check out her Etsy site for reusable produce bags and so much more!
What inspired you to start Love for Earth and begin selling reusable produce bags?
I was inspired by self interest, I suppose. I had wanted something to use for produce, but the grocery bags that were available were too heavy, not see through, and just difficult to use. I would get skeeved out at the thought of putting my produce on the conveyor belt on top of whatever germs or raw meat drippings or any other contaminants may have found their way to the grocery store conveyor belt, so the first set was for my own use. I couldn’t get out of the produce section without being stopped and asked ‘Where did you find those?’ and if I told people I made them, they would offer me money on the spot! I had just discovered a new website called “Etsy” and figured, what the heck, I’ll make some and see how they sell. Before I knew it, I was making produce bags 7 days a week and the store grew bigger than I ever imagined it would… and I love every minute of it!
How long has Love for Earth been making reusable produce bags?
I have been making and selling produce bags for a little over 5 years in some capacity, whether it was at a craft fair or to a stranger at the grocery store. The Etsy store has been open since 2009, although the name changed in 2010.
Your Etsy site talks about the industrial quality of your products. Can you share a little more about the steps you take to create high quality products?
I really want to provide the best quality I can. No one wants to spend their hard-earned money on something that will fall apart after a few uses. While even the best of us can run into problems out of our control (bad thread and a dull needle, for example) if there ever is an issue with anything from my store, customers can just send me a quick email or Etsy convo and I will replace it and honor the standard that I set for what I make. I try to source the best materials I can and have gravitated over the last few years to USA mills. I have sourced a few things from Canada or Europe, but I am steering away from places where I believe the quality might not up to my standards. Putting a bag or garment together is sort of like a recipe, you want to put the freshest and best ingredients in it so the taste is better. I think every little thing makes a difference when sewing, the needles, the thread, the ribbon, the zippers… the better parts you work with, the better the outcome will be.
Note from Katie: Although we’ve only started using our produce bags, I can tell by looking at them and working with them that the quality is great! Each one is slightly (only slightly!) different, which is part of the charm of buying something handmade by an artisan.
What other products do you make that you’d like us to know about?
I make reusable produce bags, snack bags, storage bags, freezer bags, unpaper napkins and towels. I can custom make just about ANY reusable item one can think of. I make reusable puppy pads, I’ve made bread bags for bakers and bags for knitters to store their yarns. Anything is possible and customizing your bags or towels is easy to do… you can even choose the color or size.What’s your favorite part about what you do?
I really love what I do! I love the things I make and I love that in some small way I am making a difference as far as pollution and waste is concerned. Every time someone chooses a reusable product over a disposable, that is one less disposable bag or paper napkin that is ending up in our landfills, our oceans and cluttering our otherwise beautiful Earth. I am happy that more and more people are jumping on the reusable wave, and they are doing it for various reasons, but the end result is less trash our children and grandchildren are stuck with decades from now. Not to mention, you can save a small fortune going to reusables. Every time I go to the wholesale club for groceries, I cringe at the jumbo pack of paper towels for $30 and I am so glad I no longer have to throw money away like that. Every one of those paper towels will be used for a few seconds and tossed in the trash, and I love being part of the solution and not part of the problem.
Where to Get It
Interested in getting your hands on some reusable products from Love for Earth’s Esty store? You can check them out – or make a custom order – at www.loveforearth.net. I’m personally hoping to pick up a Lunch Zipper Bag set for Owen’s school lunches next year.