So. Plastic is poison. Producing plastic produces poison. This is not to say that we should stop using plastic altogether. There are many important uses for plastic in medicine and industry. But the plastic that ends up filling landfills, littering our streets and poisoning water is, for the most part, consumer plastic. And that we can stop using. And I do mean STOP using, because there are many alternatives.
Let’s start with the kitchen. Most of our kitchens are well stocked with plastic, both single use and reusable: plastic wrap, plastic bags, plastic storage containers, plastic tableware. We can eliminate most of them. In my kitchen I have mostly replaced plastic bags with silicon Stasher Bags in three sizes. These can be used to freeze, microwave, and store in the refrigerator. The middle size is just right for packing sandwiches, the smallest for crunchy vegetables. They have great seals and can be used again and again just by hand washing them and letting them dry. You can find them locally at Lucky’s Market, Reuse Revolution and Koko the Shop; online at Stasher Bags.
Of course you can also just keep using commercial plastic bags. Freezer bags can be used, washed, and used again and again. I still am reusing the freezer bags I bought in 2018. I usually bake my own bread, but when I buy the occasional loaf or bagels, buns or pita bread, I wash and reuse the bags they came in for my own baking (and picking up after my dog).
What about replacing plastic wrap? Several solutions here. There are cloth wraps impregnated with beeswax. They come in different sizes. You wrap them around a bowl. The heat of your hands sticks the edges together for a seal. They’ve also good for wrapping sandwiches. Or, you can get silicone covers. One style stretches over the edge of the bowl, the other is more of a lid. Both are microwavable. You can find them online at Amazon, or just search for silicone bowl covers if you’d rather buy them from another vendor. You can also use aluminum foil, but many localities won’t recycle it. Wax paper and freezer paper are plastic coated. Parchment paper is plastic free.
Finally, as they wear out, you can replace your plastic food storage containers with glass jars. You don’t even need to buy glass containers if you just buy food and beverages in glass jars as you shop. I’ve found salsa jars to be just the right size for most leftovers. And you don’t want to replace your plastic containers until they really do wear out. Use them and wash them again and again until they lose their seal or break.
I’ve been using this berry washing colander since 2009. It’s still going strong.
The point is to replace your kitchen plastic step by step. When your plastic wrap container empties, replace it with the silicone and beeswax covers. The same for your box of plastic freezer bags. Start washing and reusing them until they wear out and then replace them with silicon bags. Start collecting good glass jars for when your plastic containers wear out.
One reservation: Almost all consumer plastics contain “forever chemicals.” If you have children in the house or are pregnant, you might want to throw out all your plastic wrap, storage bags and containers and switch to silicone and glass immediately.
Next week I’ll write about replacing single use plastic in other parts of the house. Until then, reuse, replace and recycle.
You can find this and all the Creation Care blogs for the church website I have written at my consolidating blog: faithandcreationcare.blogspot.com
Thanks for your commitment to caring for God’s creation!
This Post Has One Comment
Hi, Elliott – My stepmother was washing and re-using plasic bags back in the 80’s. My dad taught me that aluminum foil, if handled gently, can be washed and re-used as well. (A piece of aluminum foil that’s been used to heat a baguette gets re-used several times.) I do both to this day.
People who lived through the Second World War know how to repurpose – it was a matter of necessity and national security.