Growing up, I remember my mom would use approximately a billion plastic products in my lunchbox throughout the week because they were so convenient. But looking back, I wonder how much damage was done just by my family’s single-use plastic obsession, and I know that my family was not the only one. Single-use plastics are self-explanatory in that they can only be used once. Items like plastic baggies, plastic grocery bags, plastic wrap, cups with plastic lids and take out containers all fall under this category. While some of these items are recyclable, the sad reality is that most of them end up in landfills or the ocean, wreaking havoc on our environment, according to The Evelve Project, an online environmental organization.
Nowadays, environmentally conscious companies have come up with products that not only help save our environment but save us money as well! Enter reusable food storage. I’m talking reusable containers, wax food wrappers, silicone sandwich bags… and the list goes on. These products are made out of materials like glass, silicone, fabric and stone/ceramic that can be washed and reused for a very long time so that you aren’t packing landfills with even more plastic and waste. Also, most reusable containers are microwave safe, making reheating food that much easier. Two products that you should start using now to cut down on your plastic use are reusable wax food wraps and reusable baggies!
The average person uses about 540 plastic baggies per year, according to One Green Planet. And after you use them once, you throw them away to end up in a landfill where they do not biodegrade, according to Design Life-Cycle, an online resource. So, switching to reusable baggies can greatly reduce your waste footprint and save you money in the long run!
There are many reusable alternatives to plastic baggies! Silicone baggies are very popular because they are dishwasher, microwave and freezer safe. They are durable and can last for years, allowing you to save the money that you would be spending every month on ziplock bags. Silicone bags come in a variety of sizes and colors for all your food storage needs.
Mesh or fabric bags are also an option, and they are great for items like fruits, vegetables, nuts and snack mixes. Most fabric bags are machine washable for easy sanitization. You could also use fabric bags in the produce section of the grocery store to avoid those pesky plastic produce bags.
Reusable Wax Food Wraps
Plastic wrap or cling wrap, discovered in the 40s, is used to cover and wrap up food to keep it fresh, but the environment continues to suffer from this common single-use plastic. Compounds such as PVDC and PVC are found in plastic wrap, and when burned, they release harmful chemicals into the atmosphere. Also, when plastic wrap finds its way into our waterways, it can be extremely harmful to marine life, according to National Geographic.
“Plastic wrap contributes to a larger plastic pollution crisis, but unlike other plastics, scientists are finding that PVC and PVDC do great jobs of picking up bacteria and metals,” according to a National Geographic article by Sarah Gibbens. “Those contaminated pieces of microplastic then harm the fish that mistake them for food.”
To combat this growing problem, you can buy reusable food wraps made from fabric and wax that act the same as plastic wrap. They cling to bowls and food the same way that plastic wrap does, but they are also water-resistant and completely washable. You can buy these food wraps online and at many health food stores, or you could make your own! Search “DIY reusable food wraps” on YouTube to find a plethora of tutorials online!
We all have to do our part to protect the environment and the earth we live on. One easy way to make a difference is to try reusable food storage options. Making the simple switch to reusable wax food wraps and reusable baggies can not only help you save money on single-use plastics, but it will help keep those plastics out of nature.