Plastic zip bags
It does save some money to re-use them, but not a lot (after you add the cost of the water and detergent and your time). But of course you’re re-using them not necessarily to save money and more to save the planet, right?
There are also health issues. It may be fine to re-use a plastic zip bag that’s contained raw meat, but I must admit I’m a little reluctant to re-use it for food. If the bag has been in the freezer I’m also reluctant to re-use it for food – it’s when certain plastics are subjected to high and low temperatures that they may leach chemicals such as BPA.
So, what should we do to be green in this area?
Well, the main thing is to stop using those plastic zip bags. They’re wonderfully convenient, I know. But they’re plastic and disposable, so they really don’t belong in a green kitchen.
Instead, consider glass storage. It’s non-toxic, can be re-used over and over again, and can be recycled at end-of-life. Yes, they’re heavier than plastic and they do break, and they can be more expensive than plastic storage, but what price your health? Also, glass bowls with plastic lids are often more reasonably priced.
Tip: look for vintage Pyrex storage – you can get some real bargains, and if you’re in the US, search for “refrigerator dishes” on eBay. Flea markets and thrift stores / charity shops are also great sources.
And of course you can store, heat and cook food in glassware (unlike plastic), and it can go in any part of the dishwasher (unlike plastic which should only be washed in the top shelf).
But, if you do have some plastic zip bags at home that you don’t want to use for food any more, don’t throw them away. Here are some things you can do with them.
- If you think you may get wet – hiking, a day at the beach, water parks, a rainy day – then store and protect your important stuff (ID, cash, cell phone, iPod) in a plastic zip bag.
- Moist towelettes – stop them drying out by storing them in a plastic zip bag, or make your own by wetting some paper towels and adding a few drops of essential oil for a pleasant aroma
- Use plastic zip bags for household “odds and ends” such as batteries, marbles, coupons, screws, washers etc.
- Organise your drawers and shelves by storing similar or related items together.
- Travel – make sure your liquids and gels don’t spill onto your clothes by placing them inside plastic zip bags when you’re travelling.
- Things that melt – think kids’ crayons – can be contained in a plastic zip bag
- You can make them into ice packs by simply filling with water and freezing.
- According to MNN, you can use plastic zip bags as rubber gloves for things like home hair dyeing or even food prep. I can’t say I’ve done this, but they might do in an emergency.
- I do however, really like their suggestion of using them as seedling pots. Instead of buying new trays, poke a few holes in the bottom of plastic zip bags, add some soil and plant your seedlings. (They’re wonderfully easy to transplant too).
- Place all the small components of board games into plastic zip bags to keep them safe – there’s nothing worse then settling down to play a game and finding you’re missing a die or a key piece.
Summary: try to avoid plastic zip bags and use glass storage instead where possible. If you do have used plastic zip bags, get creative with them once you’ve used them as many times as possible – they’re sturdy, they can take it!
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