Goodbye, plastic wrap

The farther I get into this zero waste journey (and, granted, it hasn’t even been a month yet), the more my eyes are opened to just how MUCH there is to do. Which is good for the blog, I guess, because I have plenty to write about.

Now that I feel like I’ve got a decent handle on my grocery cart*, I’m starting to look at other kitchen items we’re used to buying. So my latest project was my plastic wrap / aluminum foil / baggie drawer:

Foil, cling wrap, press and seal ... and the phone charger. Oh, and that thing I use when I can to keep the canner off the burner.

Foil, cling wrap, press and seal, baggies … and the phone charger. Oh, and that thing I use when I can to keep the canner off the burner.

Out of curiosity, I did a bit of research into how much plastic wrap Americans use each year, and found THIS survey – it looks like one to two boxes every six months. Then I found THIS article by Northern Colorado Disposal (with a lot of alarming facts, actually), and learned this:

Every year, Americans make enough plastic film to shrink-wrap the state of Texas.

(Um, that’s a lot. Texas is 268,820 square miles.)

Anyway, I’ve been storing all of that wrap for literally years, because we don’t really use it. But I don’t want to just toss it, either, because that also seems wasteful. Then Eric came up with the solution: Just hide it. Eric’s theory is that hiding these items means we won’t automatically grab them, but if we end up in a bind, we’ll still have it. And eventually we can give it away.

I have a pantry in our hallway that is dedicated to holding jars of canned items and the random bits of overflow that don’t fit in the kitchen. So that’s where this stuff is living for now.

One thing I do NOT want to happen with the project is to use it as an excuse to buy a bunch of new stuff just for the sake of filling drawers. So now that I’ve said that, I get to tell you that I just bought two “reusable plastic baggies” at a local art and craft store:

Reusable baggies with a side of Johanna's color study.

Reusable baggies with a side of Johanna’s color study mini-canvases.

I haven’t used them yet, but I figured two would be about right for any potential emergencies. This is what the drawer looks like now:

You can really get addicted to nothing.

You can really get addicted to nothing.

Eventually I’d like to also store napkins here, too, as getting rid of paper towels is also on my list, but I want to find those used, and that’s going to take some time. I’m okay with that.

All in all, I feel good about this. I mean, the plastic stuff hasn’t really gone anywhere yet, but I feel like it’s a step in the right direction.

* Pork chops were on sale this week, so I got six really gorgeous cuts in my orange Tupperware. Same guy as with the chicken debacle, but maybe he learned from that whole adventure because instead of putting my order in a plastic bag, he just lined the scale with paper. (We’re getting there.) STILL overshot the size of my container, but somehow he got it all in there, and I immediately put it into one of my bags. Glad I did because the lid popped off somewhere in all of this (I had just taken that bag out of the laundry, so I was like, whatever pork chops, you do what you need to do, although yay, they stayed put). I guess if nothing else, I always get a story when I visit the meat counter.

Next up: For Mother’s Day, I attempted a coffee scrub facial. So you’ll get to see my face in coffee grounds, basically.

16 Responses to Goodbye, plastic wrap

  1. Yeah, there are a lot of things we just throw in the trash and don’t think about. We don’t use a lot of shrink wrap either but we do use a lot of foil and plastic baggies (for freezing things) so this is an area I’d like to work on too.

    • It will be interesting to see if we need to revist our stash … and I’m still trying to figure out a good way to freeze things that don’t involve plastic baggies. Maybe just glass jars?

  2. I have a lot of luck finding nice cloth napkins at estate sales (if you’re up for that, I know some people aren’t). I have a ton I’ve bought at thrift stores and estate sales. Like you, I have reusable wraps with plastic on the inside, but I wouldn’t re-buy those because at the end of their life, they aren’t recyclable or compostable. But, my husband likes them best, and then he’s not using disposable plastic wrap, so that’s a win. I usually just wrap my sandwich in a paper napkin and it stays good until lunch.

    • These baggies are made from scrap fabric — no plastic, although the velcro closure may or may not be all that great, now that I think about it. I just saw “fabric bags” and didn’t really think it through. It’s too late now, but this has taught me that I really need to research before I buy anything!

  3. im also puzzling on how to freeze things without plastic bags? I tend to bulk buy meat so that comes ready bagged (I need me a big orange Tupperware!) , but I also have a veg garden and freeze lots of fruit and veg each year. In all my internet searches, I’ve not found any sensible plastic free freezer suggestions. I’m sure freezing in cloth would cause freezer burn and drying out.
    I’ve found a great local bakery (Birmingham uk if anyone wants details) which sells bread, flours, grains, granola, oh and cake! If you take your own bag the price/lb is reduced! Normally they bag up in paper, but they also sell cute canvas bags, but so far I’ve been good and used one I already had!

    • I’ve had decent results with glass in the past, but that “leave room for expansion” thing is real. It’s so disappointing when your lovely jar of homemade stock or sauce explodes. And not all that fun to clean up either.

      I can’t see cloth working for more than a week in the freezer. Well, this problem is on my list, so let’s all keep our fingers crossed. 🙂

      P.S. That bakery sounds lovely!

  4. I can’t see a way round freezing either. I have tupperware type things I will use until they “die” but then what?

    Waves to Anna in Birmingham – I’m in Coventry!!

  5. For freezing you can use butcher paper that is waxed or oiled. (obviously not for liquids). It’s compostable and you can buy it in rolls. We use it to freeze game and fish.

  6. Pingback: Emergency car kit realized | The Simple Year

  7. I recently bought silicone bags that are similar to ziploc bags. I bought them for backpacking, but I bet they would work great as a substitute for regular old baggies. They are pretty pricey, though. I like the idea mentioned in a previous post comment of using cereal, chip, bread bags in place of baggies. For freezing, I sometimes reuse bags we have – for instance, I bought a big bag of frozen spinach and kale and then I just add our kale from our garden to that bag. That isn’t a great solution overall (I still bought and will eventually toss that bag) but it does cut down on waste a little bit.
    These are the bags. I’m not sure if it is ok to post this link, so feel free to remove if it is not!

    • Links are fine with me. Those bags look interesting…

      I agree that at least reusing something a time or two is better than just tossing it in the trash after one use. Everything helps!

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