When it comes to sustainability, I’m all for small, low-effort changes, that make a large impact over time. Swapping out disposable containers for more eco-friendly reusable food storage alternatives is an easy way to reduce waste.
The average American family uses 500 Ziploc bags per year. No big surprise, if you, like me, were raised in modern ziploc bag culture. Where any small item, food or otherwise, is neatly stored in a Ziploc bag.
Now, as I make an effort to reduce waste in my own life, I’ve been exploring the wonderful world of eco-friendly food storage and Ziploc bag alternatives. In this article, I am going to share the best sustainable ways to store your food.
Personally, I don’t mind paying a little extra money, if it means that I’m making a healthier option for myself or the planet. That said, with plastic baggies costing .03 to .13 per bag, and the average family using 500 per year, you are looking at a yearly spend of $15-65 on plastic bags alone. That’s without including any money spent on cling wrap, aluminum foil, or any other disposable food storage items.
Depending on your households’ needs, it’s possible to make up the cost spent on reusable food storage and Ziploc bag alternatives in the first year. Many of these items will last at least a decade. That’s 9 years of free and easy food storage.
The following is a list of the best zero-waste food storage alternatives. I’ve included some additional details about what each item is good for. Everyone’s food habits are different. This list should give you a sense of what items would work best for your kitchen. Keep in mind that with eco-friendly food storage swaps, the alternatives aren’t always going to look just like the item they replace. The good news is, the alternatives can be even better for keeping food fresh
The best eco-friendly food storage swaps
Ziploc bag alternatives
Silicone freezer bags are an easy swap for Ziploc bags. Be careful of ingredients and that they fit your requirements. Both of the following brands are BPA-free, freezer, microwave, and dishwasher safe.
Why they are great:
- Great for storing everything (lots of size options)
- You can use them to steam or souvide food
- Dishwasher safe
Cloth bags are another storage solution. They won’t seal as securely as silicone but they work well for certain snacks and sandwhiches and are a great option for anyone avoiding silicone.
Cling-wrap alternatives for covering food
Wax food covers
Wax food covers are made of linen coated in beeswax or soy wax. They work great as an alternative to plastic wrap.
What they are good for
- wrap up cut produce
- cover bowls or plates
Tip – don’t use these to carry food in warm temperatures – the wax will melt.
Silicone food covers
Silicone food covers are a great option for when you are looking for a tight seal on your food. There are covers for your plates and bowls as well as to use to directly cover a fruit or vegetable that you’ve cut. Personally, I find the ones that cover food directly to be unnecessary, because I can easily pop these items into a Tupperware or silicone bag.
There are many great cloth options for produce storage. You can take these bags with you to the grocery store, to avoid using plastic bags for your produce. Some of the options, like the Crisper, also help extend the freshness of your produce, when used for storage.
Eco-friendly container storage
Reusable storage containers are a staple in any kitchen. Many of my favorite tupperware containers are actually jars that came from a saurkraut or hummus that I’ve long finished. When you can reuse glass containers, be careful not to reuse plastic, as you are more likely to have chemicals leaching into your food. I find that it’s handy to have a couple larger tupperware around for leftovers as well. The following two are great options because they are BPA free, and in the case of the Bamboo storage option, completely plastic free.
If you work away from home, it’s absolutely worth investing in a lunch container that you love. It will last forever and it increases the likelihood that you will bring your lunch to work. It’s important to pick one that makes the most sense based on the type of food that you like to bring in.
Here are a few fun options to choose from:
So hot. So hip. So sustainable.
I love mason jars. True hippie hipster that I am, I use them for everything. Every two days I use them to make overnight oats. I’ll store snacks in them in my purse, and every afternoon I enjoy a decaf iced oatmilk latte in a 16 oz mason jar.
Large mason jars are also great for storing bulk items that need to be sealed, like coffee beans.
Be careful of the price on these. I’ve found that lately, the prices are outrageous online. I found a few that are decently priced but if you have the ability, I suggest checking your local Target or hardware store.
Storing your food the eco-friendly way
Whew, that was a lot to take in.
I commend you for making it this far and I hope you are not here simply because I’ve paralyzed you with the sheer amount of eco-friendly food storage options.
As exciting, or overwhelming as it might be to overhaul your kitchen storage habits. It’s best to take it slow. Pay attention to what and how you are storing things now. This will give you a sense of what you will need to replace. You can always add more later, but you don’t want to end up overbuying in an effort to reduce waste.
The best way to go is to see what you are running out of (bags, clingwrap, etc), and what you use those items for, and then purchase best sustainable food storage swap for that item.
Slow and intentional changes make a big impact.
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