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Alberta woman making reusable mesh bags for grocery store produce

Barb Weisbrot hopes her hand-made reusable mesh produce bags will reduce the amount of plastic in the ocean.
Barb Weisbrot hopes her hand-made reusable mesh produce bags will reduce the amount of plastic in the ocean. Global News

Barb Weisbrot sews reusable, washable, mesh produce bags she hopes will replace the clear plastic bags currently offered at grocery stores on rollers for fruits and vegetables.

It started as a passion project fuelled by her desire to help consumers make a small change with the potential for a big impact.

WATCH: Pressure on Canada to ban plastic bags, straws 

“My main goal is to just make people aware and to stop using plastic,” she said Saturday from her booth at the St. Albert Farmer’s Market.

“These are reusable, breathable… I’m trying to make an impression and educate people not to use plastic and to get into reusable things rather than just always grabbing a plastic bag.”

It takes Barb about 15 minutes to make one mesh bag. She and her husband Gary have been hosting booths at farmers markets in the Capital Region.

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READ MORE: Looking for a farmers market in Alberta? There’s an app for that

“My sign is: ‘Who can help Mother Earth?’ and the M and the E come down to say ‘me,’ which is yourself. It’s you. Everybody can make a change.”

Barb Weisbrot hopes her hand-made reusable mesh produce bags will reduce the amount of plastic in the ocean.
Barb Weisbrot hopes her hand-made reusable mesh produce bags will reduce the amount of plastic in the ocean. Global News
Barb Weisbrot hopes her hand-made reusable mesh produce bags will reduce the amount of plastic in the ocean.
Barb Weisbrot hopes her hand-made reusable mesh produce bags will reduce the amount of plastic in the ocean. Wes Rosa, Global News
Barb Weisbrot hopes her hand-made reusable mesh produce bags will reduce the amount of plastic in the ocean.
Barb Weisbrot hopes her hand-made reusable mesh produce bags will reduce the amount of plastic in the ocean. Global News
Barb Weisbrot hopes her hand-made reusable mesh produce bags will reduce the amount of plastic in the ocean.
Barb Weisbrot hopes her hand-made reusable mesh produce bags will reduce the amount of plastic in the ocean. Global News
Barb Weisbrot hopes her hand-made reusable mesh produce bags will reduce the amount of plastic in the ocean.
Barb Weisbrot hopes her hand-made reusable mesh produce bags will reduce the amount of plastic in the ocean. Global News

While launching her business idea, Barb’s son — who is sea kayak tour guide in the Antarctic and Arctic — sent her a photo of a polar bear cub eating a plastic bag.

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“The picture was taken 400 nautical miles away from the North Pole, where no one lives. And this little polar bear is eating a plastic bag. It’s just amazing how far plastic can travel. It’s horrible,” Barb said.

“It’s so incredibly sad… It’s everywhere. I mean, birds, whales, seals, sea turtles, everything like that is being so impacted by plastic.”

Word of their eco-bag is spreading and so far, the feedback has been very positive.

“Everybody has been positive: ‘It’s a good idea, glad you’re doing it, we need to have more of this.'”

READ MORE: Mutant enzyme that ‘eats’ plastic bottles could be a game-changer, scientists say

Barb and Gary’s endeavour has even inspired their daughter to make small changes in her life.

“There’s lots of people and things that happen in our world and we choose to not do anything about it. They decided to do something about it,” Kayley Weisbrot said.

“It takes little moments like that to make change. It doesn’t happen overnight. They decided to, instead of doing nothing, they’ll try to do something. So I’m really proud of them.”