How many plastic bags do you use per week? Or per month? How about per year? Just an estimate? Not sure? Well, on average Americans use 365 plastic bags per person per year. It takes 1,000 years for a plastic bag to degrade in landfill and they don’t break down completely, instead they become microplastics that absorb toxins and continue to pollute the environment. On the other hand, plastic commonly found in single use plastics such as cutlery, bottles, bags, and some food containers can contain chemical additives that have been associated with negative health effects.
As I’m trying to think of a sustainable solution that could help with this issue; a zero-waste food storage approach seems like the right way to start. But would it be easy? Certainly not. Honestly, maybe it is not even fully realistic in this point of history, but I do like the idea, it even sounds nice “zero-waste food storage.”
You might of heard of cities or states that have banned plastic bags or plastic straws, these changes in policy can have the biggest impact however they can take their sweet time to become law if ever. So, in the meantime what can we do?
Here are 6 actions that you and I can take to begin a Zero-Waste Food Storage Journey:
- Reuse Glass Containers
Whenever you have the option always choose glass; not only is it long-lasting and durable but it does not break down overtime like plastic. A glass container is great for storing, freezing, or refrigerating just about anything in your kitchen. For an additional sustainability point reuse a glass container from foods that came in the jar like jelly, pasta sauce or nut butter.
- Reusable Snack Bags
There are many options out in the market from different materials like silicone to waxed organic cotton and they can be adaptable to your needs since most can stand significant changes in temperature and hold liquids or solid foods. If you are into arts and crafts try making your own cloth snack bag for sandwiches, nuts and seeds or any other dry snack.
- Reusable Grocery Bags
Having these in your car or folded in your purse for everyday use can have a huge impact on our environment. Not to mention that they are also very versatile and easier to carry as a tote bag.
- Cloth Produce Bags
Take along with your grocery tote bag to shop and store produce like potatoes, carrots, apples and more, without having to use additional plastic bags.
- Reusable Straw and Silverware
Most plastic cutlery is only used once. Many restaurants are opting for recyclable materials like paper straws instead of single use plastic which can be a better option however it would be excellent if you can BYO utensils.
- Reusable Water Bottles
This is my favorite action, not only is it good for the environment but carrying a water bottle serves as a reminder to stay hydrated.
Do all 6 if you can or start with 1 action from this list or maybe come up with your own non-plastic reusable container. Look around your house, workplace, and stores where you shop at, how often do you see plastic materials? Can you think of a reusable or recyclable replacement?
By: Katheryne Romero RDN,LDN
National Geographic. Fast facts about plastic pollution. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/article/plastics-facts-infographics-ocean-pollution
ACS Publications. 2020. “Degradation Rates of Plastics in the Environment,” Pages 3495, 3499-3500, 3503. https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acssuschemeng.9b06635
Ecology Center. Adverse Health Effects of Plastics. https://ecologycenter.org/factsheets/adverse-health-effects-of-plastics/