You know one of my concerns with plastic, BPA, as well as three reasons I personally want to reduce the amount of plastic my family contributes to the landfill. This requires not only new habits, but new investments as well. I’ve found that many of the “plastic free” changes I’ve made cost very little, while others cost a bit more.
To continue to fully move in the direction I desire to go, I will continue to invest time, thought, and some money into reducing our plastic use. If you, like me, don’t have unlimited resources, I realized that it could be a little overwhelming to think about making all of the necessary changes to really thoroughly reduce plastic usage. So before I give my many ideas on how to start reducing your plastic consumption, let me give you a few sanity saving thoughts.
1) Make Changes One Step at a Time
It can be overwhelming to both our sanity and our pocketbook to make every possible change at once. So don’t do it. I am a “goal making” sort of gal, so I like to make small, reachable goals for myself. For example, one month my goal could be to replace plastic sandwich bags, the next month my goal could be to figure out better ways to freeze broth, and the next month I could tackle replacing all of those plastic yogurt containers I use for leftovers. There is no reason, unless you have the energy, time, and money, to do everything at once. While I am definitely concerned about the effects of plastic, spreading out the changes you make may help keep things manageable for you.
2) Invest in One Item at a Time
Making the changes slowly also allows you to invest slowly in both the cheaper and more expensive options for going plastic free. This is important if you are on a budget like me. Remember that these aren’t disposable items so they truly are an investment, items you should be able to use for a long time. But spreading out the investment certainly helps with my budget!
3) Be Creative and Resourceful
You often don’t have to buy much, or buy expensive things to get started. If you are creative, you can even make many of your own items. You can also keep your eye out for second hand items or sale items to save money. And since you are doing this process slowly, you have time to watch for good deals.
In the next post in this series we will tackle replacing sandwich and snack bags. I am excited to share some ideas with you!
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Mom of 4 1/2
Thanks for all your great ideas.
I’ve found that the easiest and cheapest ways to make these types of changes is simply to find out how they did it in “the good ole’ days” and do what they did. They didn’t have a lot of money to burn or time to waste either, so their ways are usually the easiest and fastest to incorporate.
I love the way those sandwich bags look, but do they dry out the bread? I tried to make a reusable bag for my loaves of bread, and it dried out quickly. Perhaps I used the wrong kind of fabric? I imagine that in some cultures (and in the good old days) they just eat their “daily” bread so storage wasn’t as much of an issue. Looking forward to seeing more of your ideas!
Wardeh @ GNOWFGLINS
I look forward to your ideas for replacing sandwich bags! Your advice to go slowly is very good, though I admit I am a cold turkey sort of person. 😉
I will be reading this with interest; it is a subject close to my heart too. I pack daily lunches for my husband and school-aged daughter and I never have used “throwaway” plastic storage bags. I do, however, use plastic containers for many items. I like that they don’t allow things to dry out, leak, or get smushed. Eventually, though, even they can become cracked or otherwise need to be replaced. If there’s a better way I’d love to learn it.
Thanks for this!
We have those sandwich bags, and the bread still stays soft the next day when we make our lunches the night before. Another day and it starts getting dry. We’ve slowly been able to make changes, adding some of the reusable bags, pyrex containers, and glass snapware. I agree – it’s definitely an investment that pays off financially, for the environment and for our health. My mom always asks us for stocking stuffer ideas – the reuseable sandwich bags and chico grocery bags are going to be my requests this year because it always seems like we could use a few more.
How about wrapping in wax paper first? That might keep bread from drying out.
Thank you for the great ideas! Congratulations on your new lil blessing <3
Love the idea of the sandwich bags – but- I would be careful about the fabric if you make them. Most fabric has been treated. At least wash very well before making the bags. Sorry to throw another worry into the mix.
We have made some use of natural waxed paper bags for things we might have used little plastic baggies for – like shredded cheese that goes in the fridge. They can be reused a few times for the same thing. While it’s not completely reusable, it does get us out of the plastic baggie habit- which is better for health for sure. I use glass for everything else and I store my broth in Mason jars. In fact, we use Mason jars so often- I have even stored leftover soups, casseroles, etc in them to go to work with my hubby the next day. They are so inexpensive and multipurpose and fit easily in a lunch bag. We don’t really eat sandwiches or pack lunches for kiddos (my hubby just takes a Pyrex to work and reheats things using a stainless steel pot on a hot plate at his desk- we do NOT use the microwave!) so that part hasn’t been an issue, but I used to use the G-ware for leftovers, etc and threw it all out and bought Pyrex. (I’m a cold turkey gal, too, Wardeh!) Looking forward to more tips! 🙂
I’m a HUGE fan of glasslock tempered glass storage containers (made in Korea). The lids are made of BPA-free plastic with removable silicone gaskets (for easy cleaning); they snap down tightly with a very good seal. I use these containers in the freezer, the fridge, and the microwave (without the lid), but they aren’t rated for baking in the oven like Pyrex baking dishes are (but I don’t like Pyrex’s storage lids).
I especially like the way we can see the contents in the cabinet, fridge, & freezer with the clear glass containers (my husband and son seem to be afflicted with extreme “refrigerator blindness”). While there are round containers, I prefer the rectangular and square ones because they make better use of space. For freezing and potlucks, I label the lids and containers with a laminated label maker (Brother) – the labels stay on extremely well, even through multiple dishwasher cycles, but also remove easily when needed, too.
Glasslock isn’t quite as cheap up front as plastic containers, but over time, I’ve replaced all my plastic storage containers, with a couple of exceptions (in case I need to send food with someone and getting the glasslock safely back isn’t likely, etc.). Not one container has broken or chipped yet (and my 12 yo is not careful putting away dishes). One lid in two years has cracked and the company replaced it when I emailed.
Costco sells glasslock sets (sometimes with a coupon offer) at a better price than buying individually, and Bed Bath & Beyond sells individual pieces (and even BB&B accepts their own expired coupons, as well as multiple coupons for multiple items). I’ve also seen individual pieces on special at Ralph’s/Kroger. The glasslock website has a list of US retailers: www dot dooilusa dot com/3.wheretobuy/wheretobuy.html
Now and then I have seen glasslock at Home Goods/Marshalls/TJMaxx, especially the handy nesting sets in larger much smaller sizes. Newer containers have sloped sides so the empties nest better than the first containers I bought a couple years ago.
I’ve bought sandwich bags like those and I’ve also bought other items that look like little table cloths. These cloths can be folded and close up with velcro straps to secure a sandwich. Both items work wonderfully well in lieu of plastic bags. Although . . . I just realized these bags also contain a plastic lining to assure any liquids don’t leak. In the scheme of things I still see it as a good way to reduce my use of plastics.
The items have also helped me stop buying sandwich bags. I have not had problems with bread drying out because I assume these bags do not keep bread/chips, etc., fresh for long. If I feel the bread will dry out too quickly I put the bread in parchment paper before it goes into the sack.
They are very cute and are washed very easily (in the sink and they dry overnight). Overall a great investment.
Mason jars are a cheap and easy non-plastic food storage option.
Married a year ago + we discovered we like to go in phases to change our ways with each season.
Some changes are plastic related, others…good ole days ways.
Fall: Planted a garden, invested in glass lock storage, made reusable sandwich wraps
Winter: Emailed Christmas cards/updates to part of our list, instead of mailing all
Spring: Began Worm composting (it was a gift), built a sliding recycling bin under sink
Summer: purchased Mason jars with reusable lids, cloth diaper investment, put up a clothesline