These days, we hear a lot of talk about sustainability and ‘going green.’ Protecting the environment while also doing our best to make healthier choices for ourselves and our loved ones are worthy goals, to be sure. But it can feel a little overwhelming to try to incorporate both of these goals all at once.
When it comes to food storage containers, many of us have probably used or might still be using (no judgment!) some form of disposable plastic container or bag. They’re awfully convenient, and it’s so easy to just reach into a drawer or a cupboard and pull out a quick and easy disposable bag.
But if you’ve been considering ditching the disposable plastic in your kitchen and are looking for a longer-lasting alternative, this is the guide for you. We’ve compiled some expert answers to the question of whether it’s worth investing in reusable, non-plastic food storage containers. Plus, we share which reusable options we just can’t live without.
WHY DITCH PLASTIC?
First and foremost, plastic simply isn’t made of natural materials. Friday Apaliski, the founder of Sustainability Concierge, a company that helps people go green at home, says, “Unlike metal, glass, and paper, the earth can never digest plastic, no matter how small it breaks up; it’s here to stay forever. In addition, and sometimes more importantly for my clients, plastic leaches endocrine disrupting chemicals that are related to many health concerns, especially when it is heated.”
Apaliski elaborates, “Endocrine disrupting chemicals found in plastic are linked to all kinds of health concerns, from obesity to infertility and even cancer. Because they interfere with your hormone system they are especially concerning for infants, children going through puberty, and people experiencing menopause.”
It makes sense to reduce the amount of plastic we use in light of this information. It can be overwhelming, and Apaliski recommends that we do the best we can and remember that we won’t be perfect.
WHAT QUALITIES TO LOOK FOR
There definitely is no shortage of non-plastic food storage containers out there. So how do you know what to choose?
Apaliski notes that you may want to consider finding storage containers that will keep your food more visible. She says, “If you can’t see your food, I guarantee you won’t eat it.” For this reason, she often recommends glass for food storage.
DOING A COST ANALYSIS
Now that we know more about the benefits of non-plastic storage containers, it’s time to look at the cost of investing in them. After all, some products have a steeper price tag than others, which may leave you wondering whether it’s worth buying new containers or bags at all.
Shari Greco Reiches, wealth manager, behavioral finance expert, and author of Maximize Your Return on Life: Invest Your Time and Money in What You Value Most, breaks things down for us using Ziploc bags as an example.
She notes that the average cost per Ziploc bag is about seven cents. The cost of a reusable silicon bag made by Stasher is $12.99. To break even, Reiches says you’d need to use the silicon bag about 186 times.
That’s a lot of stored leftovers, and a lot of Ziploc bags saved from the landfill!
OUR FAVORITE PRODUCTS:
Investing in non-plastic, long-lasting reusable food storage containers just makes sense. Now, let’s explore some of our favorite options.
1) STASHER SILICONE BAGS
As mentioned by Reiches, these reusable silicone bags run about $12.99 for a typical sandwich-sized bag. They come in various sizes and some fun colors like red, purple and aqua, in case you want to add some personality to your workday lunches. The best part is you can just toss these into the dishwasher when they need to be cleaned.
2) MASON JARS
Both Apaliski and Reiches mention that Mason jars make excellent food storage containers. They’re (of course) reusable and Apaliski says they are, “inexpensive, available at any hardware store, and have a plethora of sizes to fit just about anything.”
3) STAINLESS STEEL LUNCH BOXES
Packing your lunch was never so chic, thanks to these stainless steel lunch boxes. These are dishwasher safe and can stack together, making for a more convenient way to take your meals or snacks with you on the go.
Apaliski notes that she is a “big proponent of stainless steel” if you need to bring along food while you’re out and about because it’s lightweight and hard to destroy. This is a winning combination for those who tend to break things, or who have little ones at home.
Amazon.com, from $17.99
4) GLASS AND BAMBOO CONTAINERS
Speaking of chic, these glass and bamboo storage containers are worthy of a prime spot on your kitchen counter. However, their thoughtful design means you can easily stack them together in a cupboard to save on counter space.
To Apaliski’s point, you’ll easily be able to spot the leftovers in these containers while in the fridge, meaning you’ll be more likely to finish them up.
5) BEESWAX WRAPS
Rather than reach for a plastic baggie, try out these reusable beeswax wraps. They’re just as handy, but they’re easier on the environment than disposable plastic. You’ll have three different sized wraps from this set, meaning you can use these for sandwiches or for covering up leftovers in a (reusable!) bowl.
Remember as you consider swapping out your plastic storage containers to aim for your best rather than perfection. Try buying one non-plastic container at a time to ease yourself into going plastic-free for your food storage. In time, you’ll work up to your goal of ditching the plastic for good!
MORE ON HERMONEY:
- How to Cut Out Food Waste And Save Money in the Process
- How to Avoid Fast Fashion, Saving the Planet + Your Wallet
- 10 Ways to Save Money While Also Saving the Planet
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