Plasticless Food Storage
For most people, the kitchen is the place with the biggest waste footprint. [Raising my hand over here.] And storing food accounts for a lot of that. Plastic wrap, plastic bags, aluminum foil, plastic take-out containers... there's a lot. Cutting down single-use plastic in the kitchen is a big goal for me.
We were huge Ziploc users before I started this transition. It's been a tough change, I'm telling you. What finally helped kick the habit was the fact that there were almost no plastic bags at our summer rental when we moved in, and I simply didn't buy any more. However, if I had left it at that we would've given in and bought some eventually. I had to consciously replace the habit of reaching for a plastic bag with other solutions. Here are a few things that have worked for us.
Existing food storage containers
This journey is all about using what you have before going out and buying new things. We're trying to curb the consumerism, not just switch to buying different things that are better for the environment. I have various old containers, both plastic and glass, that I use daily for storing food. My favorite creative use of existing things was commandeering the little plastic containers that originally came with our protein shakers to use as toddler snack storage - a perfect size, stackable, and didn't cost a cent. I'm sure you already have some Tupperware or similar containers; don't be afraid of using them just because they're plastic. Once they reach the end of their life then you can make the investment in something else.
Glass Bottles and Jars
Glass bottles and jars are one of the best ways to store food. Glass doesn't leach chemicals into food, is non-porous so it doesn't absorb smells, is made of abundant materials, is easy to clean, and is clear so you can easily see what is inside. Beautifully curated pantries full of matching glass jars are all over Pinterest. I'd love a pantry like that (filled with perfect Le Parfait jars), but there's really no need to invest so much time and money for a zero waste solution. Some of my favorite jars are old glass applesauce jars that I've scrubbed. I've also re-purposed baby food jars and sparkling lemonade bottles. It is useful to have several different sizes of bottles/jars. I keep my flour and sugar in large glass jars and nuts and raisins in small, pint-sized ones.
Side note: make sure you label jars with foods that look similar. There are many different methods I've seen for labeling what's in your jars from personal labelers to writing with dry erase marker. Eventually, for jars I use for picking up bulk food, I'd like to etch the tare weight and volume onto the glass. I'll let you know how the diy goes. ;)
Stasher Bags (self-sealing, reusable silicone bags)
I got my first Stasher Bag not too long ago, and I love it! It's got all of the functionality of a plastic sandwich bag with none of the guilt as they're made of high quality platinum silicone. These clever bags can go in the refrigerator, freezer, microwave, oven, stovetop, and dishwasher (top rack). They feel so much nicer than plastic bags, and are a joy to use. My second one is on the way! I use these for taking food on-the-go or items that don't fit as well in a jar or tub, like leftover pancakes or sweet potato fries.
These are the best replacement for plastic wrap that I've found. Beeswax wraps from Bee's Wrap are made of organic cotton, beeswax, organic jojoba oil, and tree resin (there are other brands, but this is the one I like). I use them for wrapping homemade bread, keeping half an orange or lemon moist, and covering bowls. They form around food and stick slightly to themselves. I'll be honest, I wasn't really sure about the smell at first, but once I started using them I kind of like it. I have found that saving rubber bands (or hair elastics) that come your way to wrap around beeswax-wrapped food helps immensely with keeping it tight.
There are so many ways to store food plastic-free without spending a dime; Ceilia from Litterless often just puts plates over bowls for easy, impromptu storage. Try paper bags for dry goods, baskets for produce, or hey, even that cardboard box you got in the mail. Be creative! I have also heard many great things about Tiffins and other stainless steel containers, but have not made the investment myself yet.
I'm not perfect at zero waste food storage, but I am slowly improving. It's a process for figuring out what works for me and what solutions get me excited and bring joy. Buying food in bulk also helps to reduce the plastic packaging in our kitchen.
Any other solutions you love?