I’ve never been fond of plastic. It’s just got to not be good to have millions of plastic food storage containers piling up every day when they take thousands of years to break down. Take plastic bags alone; over a million are used worldwide every minute for an average of just 12 minutes.
And while I feel a bit better about my stash of reusable GladWare containers after finding that they’re made of safer polypropylene plastic and are BPA-free (note that Tupperware’s reusable containers are made of polycarbonate, which does contain BPA), they’re still plastic and I’d just rather not use them.
But what’s a girl to do with leftovers? Picnic fare? Our daughter’s lunch?
In asking those questions I found a few answers. Here; my guide to breaking the plastic addiction.
Step 1: Do the Math
You’ll probably balk at the prices for reusable containers at first glance (I know I did). But you really need to think of these as an investment—the antithesis of disposable. For instance, I bought three of the sandwich bags down below for about $24 at the beginning of the school year. That’s roughly 200 days of bagged sandwiches and apple slices and crackers that saved 600 plastic baggies and they’ve probably got another two years in them. So let’s make it an even 1,800 plastic bags saved. Given that fold-top baggies are roughly $2.25 per 150 (for a total of $27 for 1,800 bags), the overall price comes out as a wash. You could make similar arguments for storage containers and water bottles, too.
Step 2: Make a Plan
Because of the high up-front cost, I’m a big believer of staging your break from plastics. Let’s say you’ve got a drawerful of GladWare containers; then sandwich bags and a water bottle might be a good place for you to start. If your plastic containers are on their last legs, consider buying a more eco-friendly set made of glass, ceramic or stainless steel. But be deliberate and make a plan.
Step 3: Make a Choice
There are two ways of going about this. You could dabble with a bunch of different options and then make the big investment with your favorite, or you could go whole-hog from the get-go; there are benefits and drawbacks to each approach. Dabbling lets you pick just what you like, but because they’re meant to have (very) long lives, you’ll be stuck with a drawer full of mismatched food storage containers. Going whole-hog will get you uniformity, but it might also get you a drawer full of containers that don’t quite meet your needs.
Whichever approach you choose, here are some of our favorites:
- Wrap-n-Mat Sandwich Wraps – I love how this works as both a sandwich wrap and a placemat. We used this and the LunchSkins for Noe’s lunches all year.
- LunchSkins Sandwich Bags – These reusable bags are great for sandwiches, but I like them even more for apple slices, crackers, nuts, etc.
- ECOlunchbox Bento Set – Stainless-steel bento set that's perfect for lunches.
- ECOlunchbox Leak-Proof Container – One in a set of silicone-topped, stainless steel containers that I love.
- Bormioli Rocco Glass Storage Containers (set of three) – This set reminds me of some glass containers I bought from IKEA years ago and still love.
Do you have other recommendations? I’d love to know your favorites …