Food Waste Experiment: Are Debbie Meyer Green Bags worth it?

Tasty Trash: The $55 million Squawkfox Food Waste Challenge is a series aimed at helping your family save up to $1,500 this year by reducing food waste. The environment may also thank us. To start from the beginning, read the introduction.

“Save money by eliminating waste.” That’s the claim that first caught my eye when I picked up a box of Debbie Meyer Green Bags. Who doesn’t want to “prolong the life” of produce by stickin’ it in a pretty green bag designed to remove the ethylene gas that accelerates rotting? Easy.

But do they really work?

debbie meyer green bags ziploc

The sciencey part of my brain wanted to know if this As Seen on TV product did the job it promised. My wallet wanted to cut costly food waste.

So I devised an experiment.

The Debbie Meyer Green Bag Experiment

In one corner (of my refrigerator) I lovingly bagged and stored a wide variety of fruits and vegetables in those expensive Debbie Meyer Green Bags. In the other corner I zipped and sealed a complementary produce stash in comparably sized Ziploc Freezer Bags.

green bags experiment

At $13.43 for a box of 20, the Debbie Meyer Green Bags cost a staggering $0.67 per bag. The popular Ziploc Freezer Bags retail for $0.10 a piece at Costco.

I planned to take pictures of the produce every day for 22 days.

Game on. Let the produce bag wars begin!

The Ripened Results

I followed the Debbie Meyer Green Bag instructions to a tee. After 22 days of refrigerating broccoli, apples, lemons, carrots and parsley, and storing bananas on my counter, I harvested these ripened results.

Bananas

The bananas showed the most dramatic change. For some fruity fun I sealed a pair of bananas in each bag type, plus I left a naked banana pair on the counter as a scientific control. This is real science, people. Oh, and I made a little video to serve as proof. Bananas, I know.

Week One. After 7 days, all bagged bananas looked about the same. The unbagged banana control group boasted more brown spots than the bananas quarantined in bags.

Week Two. After 14 days, the Debbie Meyer Green Bag bananas were as brown as the unbagged control bananas. The bananas in the Ziploc bag looked best.

green bags bananas

The End. From day 16 to day 22, all bananas deteriorated quickly. The Debbie Meyer Green Bag and Ziploc bananas developed significant moldy spots. They looked equally disgusting.

green bag banana

ziploc banana

The control group (with the Squawkfox logo) turned very brown and started to shrivel, but this banana pair did not grow mold. Go science!

banana

Making tasty banana bread or healthy homemade ice cream would have been more fun than watching my fruit grow mold. Ick.

Parsley

After 22 days of bagged captivity, the parsley wilted and turned yellow. Neither bag outperformed the other.

green bags parsley

Broccoli, carrots, lemons, and apples oh my!

The balance of my bounty — yeah, the bagged fruits and veggies — all looked the same outside their respective bags 22 days later. I’d say both the Debbie Meyer Green Bags and Ziploc bags performed equally well. Take a look for yourself.

green bags

green bags carrots

green bags apples

green bags lemons

The Verdict: It’s not in the bag

The costly Debbie Meyer Green Bags did not extend the life or freshness of my refrigerated produce longer than the less expensive Ziploc bags.

Bagging bananas in either bag could ward off brown spots a few days longer, but after 10 days, all banana pairs were inedible.

Conclusion: Save your green on green bags. If you really want to “save money by eliminating waste”, then I’d highly recommend making a grocery shopping list and planning meals around your perishables before the food goes foul.

Spending good money on Debbie Meyer Green Bags won’t do a thing to extend the life of your produce if you’re not eating your fruits and veggies before their natural expiry date. Everything dies, people. And these bags are a huge waste of moolah.

I want a refund.

Love,
Kerry

Your two cents:

  1. Lili@creativesavv July 16th, 2012

    Thanks for doing this for us! Now I can feel satisfied with my method for keeping produce. If I have anything that I think will not fair well, like lettuce or other greens, or if I’m storing carrots long-term, I wrap the veggies in paper towels and then slide into a bag. The paper towels keep things from resting on the plastic, and prevent the slimies!

  2. Jules July 16th, 2012

    I don’t trust any vegetable that’s been in the fridge for more than 2 weeks, or any fruit after four. Seconding the opinion that the best way to save money and eliminate waste is to not have excessive veggies to toss to begin with.

  3. Robin from Frugal Family Times July 16th, 2012

    Thanks for sharing this, Kerry! I always wonder about these products. I wonder how something reusable would fare in this experiment? That would be the ultimate money saver.

  4. Melanie Lange July 16th, 2012

    I have tried the green bags and agree they are a a waste of time and money. Ihave tried the re-usable green containers and found that they work excellently, especially with cut fruit ands vegetables. This is super during BBQ season because I can cut up a bunch of tomatoes, onions, cucumbers and lettuce or spinach and it will keep. This saves me time and having to make the same mess each time we need vegetables.

  5. Jody July 16th, 2012

    My MIL gave me a box of these as well as the bread bags. I use them, I wash them, I use them again. I admit – I would never buy them myself. My ziploc bags have similar results with my home made bread.

  6. Beth July 16th, 2012

    Great, thanks for sharing! I agree the best strategy is better grocery planning. I have a few back-up plans to cook and freeze stuff if I don’t use it up quickly enough. You would be surprised at what you can put in soup or spaghetti sauce ;)

  7. Sue July 16th, 2012

    …ummm good food for my worms…

  8. Kathy July 17th, 2012

    In Canada, ZipLoc has “Produce Bags”. These are ziploc bags with tiny holes in them. The produce lasts considerable longer in them.

  9. Trish July 17th, 2012

    Hi Kerry –
    Maybe check out the fridgesmart containers from tupperware. I’ve been using them for about a year and produce lasts so much longer. I’ve done the banana test and it’s wild. They aren’t cheap but everyone I know who uses them loves them.

  10. Imogen July 17th, 2012

    I wish I had seen this a couple of days ago. I had been looking at the PC Produce Bags for a while wondering if they were worth it and bought some when they had a no tax sale. So far I have only tried bananas and I don’t think the buildup of moisture inside did them any good. I already have a good system for storing romaine, green onions,celery etc, I wrap them in paper towel and then put them in one of the thin plastic bags you get for free in the Produce section
    and tie it off twith a bread tag. This method works really well, so buying the bags was a waste of money. I think I was just looking for a way to prolong bananas. Are there any tips for keeping bananas longer or should we just respect their naurally short life span? ( I just peeled and chunked the spotty bananas and put them in snack bags to store in the freezer for future smoothies)

  11. Nikki July 17th, 2012

    I freeze my bananas (peel them first ) as soon as they are a bit spotted so I don’t ever waste them and they are delicious frozen — and you can slice them frozen .
    But I eat them frozen as they might get mushy thawed

  12. Lili@creativesavv July 17th, 2012

    I have read that if you separate bananas from the bunch, they ripen more slowly. Also, do not store bananas in any sort of bag or with apples. The ethylene that fruits give off causes other fruit to ripen faster. And bagging your bananas only increases the ethylene.

    Now if you need ripe bananas for tomorrow, place them in a brown paper bag with an apple or two. That’ll hasten the ripening.

    One other tip, if you don’t mind brown skins, you can refrigerate bananas and they’ll ripen more slowly. The peels age from the cold (they’re a tropical fruit, after all), but the edible portion is perfect.

  13. Maureen July 18th, 2012

    I’ve always wondered about these, too – thanks for saving me the money! (I wonder what the company would say about the experiment.) Thanks, Kerry!

  14. Candy July 18th, 2012

    Thanks Kerry – another great article. I have never tried the produce bags, but I have been using the tupperware fridgesmart containers for a few years and they work great. I would love to see the same experiment with the tupperware and the more affordable rubbermaid ones vs ziploc.

  15. Laurie July 19th, 2012

    Great article. Curious….if you did the control with the banana on the counter, why not a control of all the produce items being unbagged?

    But I whole-heartedly agree with the final bit with preventing food waste is best by planning – and buying – only what you will eat in a week.

  16. Mel July 19th, 2012

    Hi Kerry,

    I am loving what your doing here. Great article. I did find a few cheap trick to naturally keep certain products longer. Strawberries go fast. I find if I keep these in a sealed container (i use the cheap throw away glad at that) they keep my strawberries 1 -2 weeks otherwise after 3 days they are usually no good. Same goes for grapes. Only trick to remember is to wipe the moisture when you take some out otherwise they can rot and go gross. Keep up the great articles!!

  17. Diane July 19th, 2012

    Thank you for doing this costly and time consuming experiment.
    I have to admit to being curious about this.
    Thank you for saving me money.

  18. Karen July 19th, 2012

    Kerry,
    You are so cool, babe!! I bought those green bags a couple of times and wondered whether it was worth it. Now I know! Thanks so much for being such an awesome resource and doing these science fair experiments. We love you for it!

  19. Sharon Suffern July 19th, 2012

    I have also done this experiment and have a whole shelf of these overpriced bags for different types of food. For fruits and vegetables, my favorite bag is the Ziploc Vegetable Bags. I am not sure if they are still available. I have some leftover inventory from a “snack shack” business we had at a lake. I use them on the counter until the fruit is ripe and then they go in the refrigerator. I am amazed at how well they work. Will be having a hissy fit if I can’t find them on the shelf.

  20. Chris July 19th, 2012

    Great article! Thanks for doing this experiment. I can’t say I’ve ever been tempted to try the green bags since we meal plan, but it’s still good information to have.

  21. Lisa July 19th, 2012

    I must say that I also use the Tupperware containers. My mom got me started on them and I find that they are awesome at keeping fruits/veggies fresh! Also, as the majority of them are rectangular they stack easily in the fridge. I haven’t tried any of the produce bags as I’ve never seen the point – I’d rather use my reusable options.

  22. Maggie July 19th, 2012

    Several years ago, I did a comparison of plain zippered bags vs the ‘vegetable’ (holey) version, using lettuce – washed, spun dry and bagged with paper towels. I can’t remember the length of time, but the plain bag worked better than the specialized one. As the saying goes – your mileage may vary :)

  23. Linda July 19th, 2012

    Well, thank goodness it was not me using the green bags incorectly. I never thought to do a study so appreciate you doing it and showing me I did not use the bags incorrectly. I got mine on QVC or HSN when they first came out a year or two ago. I never bought them a second time. Wondering if her green bowls work as she says? Take care.

  24. Jess July 20th, 2012

    Interesting experiment. It all goes to prove that correct food storage is all-important.

  25. betts2 July 20th, 2012

    thanks a lot for that great experiment! i always wondered about those green bags! thanks for sharing!

  26. Cristi July 20th, 2012

    Awesome post! Thanks!

  27. Marianne July 23rd, 2012

    I would suggest brown paper bags as well

  28. 20's Finances July 23rd, 2012

    This is an amazing experiment. I am glad to know that I haven’t wasted my money on these things. I guess the best way is to buy as little as you need and go to the store when you run out.

  29. Tina January 8th, 2013

    Hi there,
    I just stumbled across your website, love it thanks for the info. I am on a mission to go green, save money and not waste food. I’ve already started making my own natural products and homemade food items instead of pre-Package. The banana theory and bags was great. I read that in order to keep bananas longer to separate them on the counter so they are not touching. So, I gave it a try, it worked. They lasted at least a week longer, I believe it would be longer but I wanted them in my smoothie, they were fine inside.

  30. flip@60 May 28th, 2013

    I see this has been up a year or more…just seeing it now. Good article.

    Talking to a farmer at a Farmers’ Market recently, he explained that veggies emit a gas that will naturally PREVENT their deterioration. Thus, any veggies you bag will stay “fresh” longer, and it is further enhanced by placing bagged veggies in the fridge; just as you experimented.

    Is Debbie Meyer a chemist? Cause she sure tapped on one of the simplest products to market, with the most effective “got chya” marketing campaigns EVER. When I listened to that farmer talk about slowly ripening his under-ripe avocados in plastic bags in the fridge, I thought of Ms. Meyer and had one of those envy-moments (“Gosh, I wish I’D thought of that”). And I was seriously tempted to enroll in a refresher class of agricultural chemistry. Just MAYBE there are other goodies to tap in on??

  31. Tonya February 9th, 2014

    I disagree. I’ve been using these bags for years as I too did an experiment in the beginning that proved to myself that these bags do work!!

  32. Laura Wiltshire July 15th, 2014

    I am a bit late here, but…. I find the green bags (from Dollarama in Canada, a copy of the Debbie ones) amazing. You are supposed to just fold over the ends, not seal them. Cherries I bought and put in the bag were perfect 3 weeks later (I had been on vacation and bought them for my daughter before leaving). Just a few days before our return she bought cherries (didn’t see the ones I had left for her!) and they were no longer good. The green bagged ones were just like new and tasted fresh. Unfortunately I can no longer find them at Dollarama. They also work great for potatoes which seem to rot so quickly lately, corn on the cob, carrots, broccoli and celery. I haven’t tried the real Debbie ones.

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