1. It doubles as a shopping basket (the small kind).
2. It has structure: the items within are held firmly in place.
3. This structure also makes it so I don't need to use separate bags to contain the fruits and veggies - I put them directly in: heavy ones on the bottom; lighter ones on top.
5. The crate doesn't roll around in my car and topple half the contents out like lumpy bags of any sort tend to do.
6. Easy to wash: just hose it off every so often either outside or in the shower.
7. Doubles as a table or chair on picnics.
8. Holds ice packs nicely for short trips (though not as efficient as an ice chest).
9. You can easily see the contents - I find it quicker to unload the items once I am home.
Since starting to use a crate instead of the reusable bags, I don't forget it, I don't lose it (I love the small, stuff-able Chico reusable bags, but they seem to vanish along with the single socks - go figure).
As to what is actually in my crate today?
-cardboard carton of local northwest eggs (hidden on the bottom)
-locally grown turnips and rutabagas
-local milk in a returnable bottle
-avocados (alas, not local:-( )
-tomatoes (from a British Columbia Hot House - so sorta local)
-a compostable box of fixings from the bulk salad bar, enough to make four lunches worth (also hidden on the bottom)
I could improve this "zero- waste" effort by bringing a large Mason jar to fill from the bulk salad bar (I often bring smaller ones but today I was lazy).
As to WHY the bulk salad bar? I load up on things like sunflower seeds, bacon bits, blue cheese crumbles, olives, artichoke hearts, peas, chickpeas, and chicken and ham pieces.
All of these items, if purchased in the aisles separately, would be packaged in plastic that I would have to dispose of.
So them's my apples fer the day! (munch!) Now, if I could just persuade the tomato guys they really don't need to put those stupid stickers on the fruit...