I have a two tiered approach for plastic bags. I’ve had a lot of friends ask me whether I would be throwing away all of my plastic this year based on my plastic free goal. The answer? No! Of course not! The way I see it, the plastic can either continue to exist in a useful way, or exist in a garbage dump. Since it’s going to be around for 30,000+ years, I opt for the former because I would rather keep trying to use it in a constructive way rather than clogging up our landfills. I will use and reuse plastic until it breaks down and becomes unsafe for my family, or a nuisance (holes in the plastic bag that leak what I’m trying to store).
Unhealthy: when plastic sandwich bags are introduced to acidic or oily materials, they begin to break down. When they begin to break down, they can release harmful chemicals into the food you’re attempting to store. I highly recommend throwing away plastic that becomes soiled with any oil or acidic foods like spaghetti sauce.
Onto my 2 tiered approach:
1. Wash and reuse plastic bags.
I know of of 3 ways to wash plastic bags:
- In the dishwasher (haven’t tried this)
- In the washing machine (ditto)
- By hand: my method! I fill the sink up with soapy water and let my bags soak for awhile. After they’ve soaked sufficiently, I rinse them out one by one and hang them to dry on nearby plant leaves I have stationed near my sink. I’ve also taken to putting chopsticks in my plant soil and inverting my bags atop these to dry.
2. Use plastic bag alternatives:
These are my favorites:
- Glass/metal containers. Baby food jars are fantastic as they present a wonderful “no plastic” option! Daiso also carries some nice small metal square, rectangular and circular options, but their lids are plastic.
- Etee: These muslin bags are covered in bees wax and pine resin. They hold food quite well and biodegrade nicely over time. Like them quite a bit!
Added bonus: reusing your bags means buying a lot less and this translates to savings over time. Not a lot, but every little bit counts… it all adds up.