What are we to do about the plastic berry basket? You know which berry containers I’m talking about: The plastic mesh variety, pint-size and usually green in color that our cherry tomatoes and strawberries come in. They come under the following names: Berry baskets, berry boxes, strawberry baskets, pint berry containers, plastic strawberry baskets, plastic cherry tomato boxes…the list goes on.
Why do we need to surround our beautiful fruits and veggies in plastic? It’s not the grocery stores that are packaging your lovely berries. Farmers choose the packaging, but many grocery stores will give feedback to farmers if their customers just don’t want their fresh produce packaged in plastic berry baskets.
If you want to avoid accumulating these baskets, simply buy your strawberries and cherry tomatoes only when they’re available in cardboard baskets and if your grocery store only carries plastic ones, give them your instant feedback by not purchasing them and get proactive in letting the store know you’ll start buying berries again when they can provide waste-free packaging. It’s grocery store strawberry season here and I cannot find a single one that’s plastic-free. Ours are packaged in clear clamshell packaging, aka styrofoam, and that stuff is a known carcinogen. No strawberries for us until they ripen in our garden or are offered at the Farmer’s Market or our local garden produce-share group.
What to do with your plastic berry baskets if you have to buy produce in them? Check to see if your local farmers can reuse berry baskets, if they’re clean. Save them and then pass them along, or collect enough of them to post them on your Buy Nothing group, and you might find a craft group or teacher who could use them.
Otherwise, here are 9 ideas to get you reusing the pint berry baskets you might have.
1) Turn them into candy boxes or gift boxes by weaving pretty ribbons through them.
2) Use them as a doll playpen.
3) Let your child’s teddy bear wear one as a space helmet for galactic journeys.
4) Start your cucumber, melon, and other starts in them by lining them with newspaper, adding potting soil and keeping in a sunny warm space. Then transplant the whole thing, basket and all, into the garden. Roots will grow through the plastic mesh and there will be no transplant shock for your seedlings. Remember to retrieve the plastic basket from your garden at the end of the season for reuse.
5) Place them upside down over your seedlings in your garden to protect them from birds.
6) Make an Easter Basket.
7) Line them with paper and use as a container for little things in your everything drawer or child’s playroom.
8) Use one as an earring holder/display.
9) Reuse them for your own berry picking.
I’m just going to refuse them from now on, and maybe you will, too. If we just stop buying them, maybe the farmers will find better baskets for their berries.