Your car is plastic. Your Nalgene is plastic. Hell, even those synthetic-fiber stretchy pants that give you the ass of an angel are partially made of plastic. And while some plastics are better than others, all of this [points to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch] is making the dolphins shed one heavy, collective tear, and prompting us to wonder what we can do to lessen the destructiveness of the situation. (The ocean was just on fire, after all.)
What is a lone jabroni with a limited budget to do? “You have to act as if it were possible to radically transform the world. And you have to do it all the time,” says Angela Davis—and rightly so. More easily said than done, perhaps, but still a great line to tattoo on the inside of your eyelids for being a better person.
The reality is that transitioning over to multiple-use, sustainable products isn’t always easy, nor is it instantaneous. Single-use plastic is often the more affordable, accessible option for receiving and storing our food. So before you buy anything else, remember: Making these changes can also start with what you already have. Ask the restaurant you order from to hold off on the plastic utensils, or ditch the plastic straw at the counter; if you forgot a bag at the grocery store, opt for a paper bag (and use it to store your mushrooms on the top shelf of the fridge). Re-use what you can, sub-out what is feasible, and be patient with yourself. Non-plastic, multi-use items for food storage aren’t just another purchase, but an investment that will take time. These are the ones that have been working for me.
Jars, jars, jars
Do you like marmalade? (Of course you do.) Propagating plants? Licking the pickle jar clean? Glass jars and containers are one of the best gateway items into non-plastic storage because you can often reuse those Bon Maman babies or find some at the thrift store (as well as sexy kitchenware sites like Food52). Hot tip: Try storing your herbs and veggies in the fridge in these bad boys with a little bit of water, just like a flower arrangement, to keep them fresher, longer. Don’t be shy with your storage experiments, either; there are a lot of good looking glass ~vessels~ that could double as an objet d’art and a place for your brown sugar.
Beeswax wraps are worth the hype
I saw an old roommate buy a packet of these and I was pretty skeptical because, like all 90s children, I thought technology peaked with Glad ClingWrap. Then, I saw the way she was able to perfectly mold these wraps (which are just cloth coated in beeswax) over literally any shape or item. I wrap mine around avocados, cheese, and half-empty bottles of wine; I secure it over bowls and wrap snacks in them for my purse; and I send them to family members as stocking stuffers and accessories to tack onto a food-themed gift.
Damn, glass ‘Tupperware’ is getting sexy
To all the millennial marketing elves who realized they hadn’t touched Tupperware-y sector yet: Yes. It’s working. You made it sexy, and it has us excited about storing our leftovers in the fridge. (You can also usually find glass storage containers at a lot of supermarkets.)
Bring these cloth veggie bags to the store…
… And then back to the fridge! No more sticking your parsley into those sweaty, veggie-asphyxiating bags at the supermarket. They always end up turning into a soggy diaper in the fridge anyways. These boys, however, are like a spa day for your herbs.
These are still plastic, but better than Ziplock bags
But… it’s plastic? Yeah. But this is where being patient with yourself—and knowing your habits—is important, plus silicone is BPA-free while many plastics are not. If you rely heavily on Ziplock bags, opting for a reusable silicone bag is a realistic and less wasteful way to go. (It’s also made of platinum food-grade plastic, for what it’s worth.) Hot tip: Give these to your Libertarian Boomer parents as a gateway product into giving a damn.
If you dislike most reusable water bottles
Stainless steel and metal water bottle containers hurt my teeth, and I’m not super into the taste of Nalgene when it’s been baking in my backpack. Instead, I refill glass bottles from the Topo Chico graveyard of my home, and fly. Mountain Valley also makes smaller bottles with screw-tops for a lighter bottle (and, yes: it is worth buying their flat spring water; it tastes like a buttered breeze). I buy them in bulk so I can offer them to my friends at my house (classy) and give the impression I have my life together, then I pop them in the dishwasher for reuse. (Hot tip: The glass gods also make bell jars with handles.)
Are these already in your kitchen cabinets? Don’t worry—we have a few more sustainable swaps for ya.
The Rec Room staff independently selected all of the stuff featured in this story.