Plastic baggies, foil, and plastic wrap will cramp any family’s zero-waste goals. Although you can reuse foil and plastic baggies to a point, they’re not truly meant to be reusable. Most families toss this stuff and just buy more. Plus, the costs add up too, especially if you’ve got family members who take packed lunches to work or school.
BUT… what if I recycle plastic baggies and foil?
You can recycle plastic film to a point. Most plastic film products, (think produce bags, plastic food wrapping, sandwich baggies, etc) are a form of #2 or #4 plastic called polyethylene, which yeah, can be recycled. However, in curbside bins, these items are consider contamination so you need to clean all the plastic film you use, then find a recycling center (check out PlasticFilmRecycling.org) and take your plastic there.
Recycling foil is another issue. While aluminum foil is technically 100% recyclable, many recycling centers won’t accept it and if they do, you have to make sure it’s super clean so it doesn’t contaminate the recycling stream. Some cities do accept foil in the same bins you recycle aluminum cans in, so check with your local recycling program.
So, it’s kind of a pain to recycle disposable baggies and foil. On top of the costs, you’ll spend time running to the store for baggies, cling wrap and foil, then more time running to a center to recycle it.
Reusable food storage options are way better than disposables, saving you money, time and resources.
Clearly, reusable food containers should be your first go-to when it comes to storing food. Look for glass or stainless steel over plastic and if a container has plastic components make sure they’re free from BPA and phthalates. You can save a lot of money by simply saving, cleaning, and reusing the containers you already have. For example, jam jars, yogurt tubs and so on. If you really want, or need to buy new, the options below are cool.
One of my favorite companies for glass water bottles, Lifefactory, now offers a beautiful and functional mobile glass food storage collection. The Lifefactory food storage line comes in a range of sizes, colors and can be used for storing food at home, on the go and can even be used in the oven, microwave or freezer (super versatile). The entire line is BPA/BPS-free, phthalate-free and dishwasher safe and all components are made in North America. You can buy these containers one-at-a-time or grab a whole set.
If you need smaller containers for cut veggies, nuts, berries, goldfish crackers, cookies, hummus, and more, then U Konserve Nesting Trio Stainless-Steel Containers are a good bet. This is a set of 3 recyclable stainless-steel containers made with 304 food-grade stainless steel, free from BPA, lead, and phthalates. For easy storage, they nest inside one another and come with leak-proof lids.
Alternatives to plastic wrap and foil
Bee’s Wrap shown above, is a stylish, natural alternative to plastic wrap or foil for food storage. You can use this wrap for pretty much every job in the kitchen. Wrap half a lemon, a loaf of bread, or cover a bowl of leftover pasta. The wrap is warmed up with your hands as you cover an item and will hold its shape when it cools, creating a seal. Once used, simply wash with cool water and gentle soap, and reuse.
This unique product is made with beeswax, GOTS certified cotton (GOTS is the “green” standard to which Organic Cotton Textiles are produced), organic jojoba oil and tree resin. You can get Bee’s Wrap in many different sizes and in an array of beautiful designs and colors. With proper care, Bee’s Wrap lasts for up to a year.
Fabric bowl covers, while not suitable for all leftovers, are ideal for short-term food storage at home or say, when headed to a picnic. Plus, they double up as a good option for use during fermentation, making kefir or kombucha or for covering rising dough when making homemade organic bread.
The U Konserve Food Kozy is a cool invention that will help you quit using plastic baggies altogether. Wrap foods of all kinds including sandwiches, bagels and cream cheese, cheese slices, fruit slices and more. This reusable wrap is similar to a snack bag, but lies flat to double as an on-the-go place-mat, making them great for school lunches.
The non-toxic surface is easy to clean, dries quickly, keeps food from seeping through, and the slick surface is perfect for messy foods. Wrap is 100% BPA-free, phthalate-free and lead-free. Many colors available.
Alternatives to disposable baggies
Stasher Reusable Silicone Food Bags are made of 100% pure platinum food grade silicone – a standard even higher than food grade silicone, passing all U.S. safety requirements and even tougher European standards. Lightweight, portable, reusable and easy to clean, these bags are a clear winner when it comes to replacing all those disposable plastic baggies. Stasher can go straight from the freezer to the stove-top or microwave to the dishwasher, making it perfect for storing and cooking food, as well as stashing supplies for school, office or travel.
These reusable baggies contain zero BPA, BPS, lead, latex, or phthalates, while their non-porous silicone surface helps inhibit bacterial growth, mold and germs.
Stasher is also dishwasher safe, and although these bags will last forever, should you need to recycle them, Stasher’s re-purposing program will convert them into safe playground pebbles. Many sizes and colors available.
If you’re interested in fabric snack baggies, check out Wegreeco Reusable Snack Bags. These cute little reusable bags come in an array of styles and colors, plus are non-toxic,phthalate-free, lead-free, BPA free, PVC free, and are made with double layers of food-safe fabric. The water-resistant interior also keep crumbs, drips and contents securely inside. Bonus – machine washable!