There’s a couple rules of the trail. One of them—leave no trace. I know this from Kev, who likes to backpack. There’s a deep respect of the land when you get that high up, that somehow loses its translation this low down. It’s convenient down here. Maybe too convenient? We never meant to build that trash heap. But like the sci-fi landscape in WALL-E or the ominous pages of May’s National Geographic, we seem to have built a mighty large heap. I know this from personal experience. Tuesday’s. Trash day. My trail—where I roll the recycling, organics, and trash bin from the garage to the end of the driveway.
Over the last year, I’ve been tackling the waste issue in our kitchen. I started by composting through the city. Now, I’ve moved on to disposables. Six months in, and it feels like we’ve only just started. Because whenever you try something new or makeover an area of life, it’s impossible to get it right right away. It’s impossible to see how deep the root goes until you start digging. And digging. Change takes time, too, especially sustainable change, even in the confines your Ziploc baggie drawer. The good news, though—there are some really great products on the market that don’t sacrifice design or convenience. My favorites are below. Have you had success with something? Share in the comments!
If satire is your jam, check out this article from The Onion: ‘How Bad For The Environment Can Throwing Away One Plastic Bottle Be?’ 30 Million People Wonder.
My Favorite Reusable Food Storage
I researched for a long time before landing on these bags. They were new, like so many reusable items on the market, without many reviews, and expensive. But the handful of reviews were glowing. I added mine too. I love these bags. They wash well—by hand or by dishwasher. They are easy to seal and leak-proof! They don’t stain or hold on to odors. They also do a great job keeping cheese fresh. Cheese doesn’t like a tight hug. Moisture gets trapped between its surface and the hug, producing mold more quickly. These bags give a nice, loose, awkward hug–just the way cheese likes it. Note: I don’t store raw meat in these bags for fear of contamination.
I store all things liquid (like pickled vegetables, dressings, sauces, etc) in these jars. I’ve swapped all the 2-piece metal lids with the BPA-free plastic lids. I know, plastic. But I’ll be using these lids for a lifetime based on their performance these last couple of years.
I store all leftovers and prepared food in these containers. They are leak-proof, so very airtight, and stack nicely. Visually, I love the color of these lids in the fridge. It looks so clean and fresh. Freezer and dishwasher safe.
Everyone got Bee’s Wrap in their stocking at Christmas last year. Gosh, I wonder who Santa is? These wax coated wraps are reusable for up to a year, depending on use. They shape to a bowl with the warmth of your hands. Note: clean with cold water only to keep the wax coating intact, and skip using on meat. These can stain with colorful cut vegetables, like red peppers.
Reusable produce bags took some major getting used to. I’m on my second batch of bag trials, but these bags have super high ratings. I like that you can see the produce though the bag, something my old bags lacked. Dirty bags can go straight in the washing machine. They also list the weight of the bag on the side, to be deducted at the register. Note: To be completely honest, the green produce bags from the store keep fragile produce fresh the longest, especially with greens or herbs. However, I try to mostly use reusable bags at the store, and place the produce in my OXO GreenSavers, as seen in this post, as soon as I get home. This has also helped to cut down purchasing produce sold in plastic containers, like lettuce.
These bottles have been with us since the beginning of Hal’s life. They grow with you—from bottle to sippy cup to snack container. The silicone insert converts the bottle to a container. We keep ours full of homemade trail mix, and carry it everywhere and all the time.
I love these reusable bags for two reasons—they’re sturdy and fold up into a small pouch. I keep two in my purse, where I also store the produce bags. Speaking of, my purse doubles as a shopping bag. I keep very little in it, so there’s plenty of room to hold groceries. See purse here.
I haven’t figured out how to get rid of all disposable plastics. So I keep things around for occasional use, like Ziploc Freezer bags (for marinating or pounding a chicken breast flat), sandwich bags (sending Hal off with something I may never see again), and plastic wrap (when I need an airtight seal on a cut avocado, for example). We’re trying out compostable straws currently. I’ll report back.