Hopefully you all saw my interview in last month’s insidewink where I declared my desire, one small step at a time, to become as plastic free as possible. Each month I hope to write about some new way I have found to replace single use plastic with a sustainable reusable alternative.
I decided to tackle my drawer of resealable plastic bags first. Every morning I would make my daughter lunch for school using all kinds of ziplocs for various snacks and sandwiches. I would also store leftover food in various single use bags. I had large gallon bags, large sandwich size bags and tiny fold-over small sandwich bags all in one drawer and I’d find myself often running to the grocery store to replace them. That was a lot of single use plastic bags that my one household sent out into the world, so a few months ago I stopped buying them all.
I also found some similar reusable bags at Bed Bath and Beyond. I know we all tend to pause at first because of the initial investment. When all is said and done, and I bought all the various sizes and quantities I needed to truly do without my ziplocs, I had spent close to $80. I know that seems like a lot but I can tell you I know that it has already saved me money because the cost of all those ziploc bags adds up! It goes without saying that one could add just a few new silicone bags every month if that initial outlay of money seems too expensive.
My daughter is now used to unpacking her lunch with these various reusable bags.
And has even noticed that it inspired a number of her friends to ask their parents to buy them.
There is a little bit of rinsing out at the end of the day but as long as I let them air dry I find they stay fresh and ready to use every morning. They are dishwasher safe as well. It takes a tad longer to carefully seal them up when packing them with food but that is because they are so strong and extremely versatile.
Although most of my leftover food has always been stored in glass types of containers and old tupperware I have owned forever, I had still used the ziploc bags for leftover cheese and smaller bits of food here and there. The silicone bags are perfect for this as well and that is why I ended up buying so many in different sizes so that there is always a clean one on hand and I am never tempted again to buy the single use bags.
Another item that I have found helpful and takes away the need for any kind of saran wrap are reusable wax coated fabric food wraps. I originally bought some from Trader Joes and as much as I love Trader Joes I am sorry to say their food wraps are coated so thickly with wax that they do not crimp and hold tight and fitted. I found food wraps from two companies, TruEarth and etee which work beautifully.
I still need to do a bit more research to find and use an alternative to garbage bags and will report on that in the future!
This transition has taken some getting use to but has been worth it.
In the beginning I noticed that I would miss the ziplocs and baggies because I was used to them in some kind of habituated knee jerk way. We all are such creatures of comfort and change is hard but I can assure you that after a few weeks I couldn’t imagine using them again. I have found new ways to store everything in all my different size reusable bags and rinsing them out and throwing them back in the drawer for their next use feels really good. It’s clean. I am also replacing old and worn out tupperware with glass containers which not only will last longer but can be put in the microwave.
After only a few months I can see that the initial outlay of money was worth it.
I pass by that aisle of the grocery store and realize each trip that I no longer buy those one use polluting expensive bags and it feels really good.
Next on my list are all the plastic cleaning products and laundry detergent bottles. I have just bought paper laundry strips from TruEarth to see if they really get my clothes clean. They come in a cardboard envelope and consist of tiny dissolvable strips…zero plastic involved. I also just received a starter kit from Supernatural. This company sends four glass bottles with little vials of cleaning concentrates which address most surfaces in the household. Just fill with water and the essence. I’ll report in more detail next month on how well these new products work and and how sustainable I believe it can become as a lifestyle!
I am hoping that if anyone has great ideas that are helpful we can all share information in the comment section. Hopefully we will inspire each other.
By Lisa Rogers
Lisa Rogers is a psychotherapist in private practice in Los Angeles, specializing in eating disorders and addictions.
With a desire to become as environmentally responsible and as plastic free as possible, Lisa takes us on her journey each month of finding new ways to eliminate single use plastic with sustainable reusable alternatives.
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