One Green Thing Series: How I've Stopped Using Disposable Plastic Zip-Top Bags
Cooking Light editors are counting down to Earth Day with simple and effective ways they've eliminated waste and cut back on resource usage. In this series, each editor will talk about One Green Thing they've done in their own home, office, or general life to hopefully make our planet just a little bit healthier.
I had just unpacked a whole-wheat hamburger bun, a grilled chicken breast, a slice of cheese and a slice of onion, and was busy spreading a little mustard on the bread when I noticed my pile of used plastic baggies. Five in all, for this one meal. I was throwing away five pieces of one-time-use plastic just for this one meal. And it stopped my heart for just a moment. "That's a huge waste," I remember thinking to myself.
Now I know my use of plastic in this case was both not emblematic of the larger population's use or even my own personal use of these disposable storage bags. I just didn't have any clean plastic containers, so I was left with the option of using plastic wrap, aluminum foil, or zip-top bags. I chose the zip-top bags. All three would have been wasteful, and maybe all three would have hit home with me the way the zip-top bags ultimately did, but those little baggies really helped me realize how badly I didn't want to waste anymore.
That night, I made the decision to switch to glass storage containers. I filled my cabinets with Pyrex, Duralex, and Anchor bowls and lids. I recycled all the plastic containers I had been hanging on to for who knows what reason. I started fresh.
But then one day, I needed to carry a few individual items to work, another grilled chicken breast, a bag of spinach for a sandwich, two pieces of bread, and some toppings for my lunch. It just felt silly to put all of these items in individual bowls, even the smallest ones in my cabinet. Sure, I could have condensed everything into one big bowl, but then who wants to eat soggy bread and droopy lettuce for lunch? Not me, that's for sure!
Later that day, I ran across an email from a brand-new company. What they were doing—dishwasher-safe silicone press-and-seal bags—seemed like it would answer an awful lot of storage and transportation issues I face. I need the flexibility—and honestly, the lighter weight—of zip-top plastic storage bags, but I don't want to have to throw them away after one or two uses.
Stasher, it seemed, was an answer to my help-make-the-world-greener prayers. These plastic-free bags are made from 100% pure platinum silicone, and they're from one of my favorite companies, modern-twist, who is known for their high-grade silicone placemats, table runners, and bibs.
In addition to being petroleum- and PVC-free silicone, these bags have an air-tight self-sealing top. As I found in my research of silicone storage bags (spoiler alert: there aren't many), this is a unique quality, one that definitely sets this bag over some of the others. It's a new company, too—some of the bag styles aren't yet available for purchase—so they are currently limited to one size.
As it turns out though, it's just what you need. It fits sandwiches, fruit, snacks, and even single onion slices if you find yourself toting that to work on a regular occasion (as I do). I've also dropped in a few chicken breasts and popped the bag into the freezer. Because of its high-grade silicone construction, the Stasher is designed to go from freezer or fridge to microwave, and the table—and then even to the dishwasher. No dirtying up plates, which saves water (and time).
We should talk price for just a second. These are an investment at $12 a bag, but I've found in my two months of using them that they're an investment worth making. I use my glass storage containers for many things, and I keep a stack of four of these on hand for other uses. For a larger family, yes, you might need more, but build up your collection over time, and ditch the disposable bags as you go.
What's more, they're not just great for food. On a recent trip to the lake, I took along a Stasher for cell phone storage. I am that annoying friend with two phones (one is for work), and I desperately don't want to have a friend pop up out of the water only to splash water all over my phones and leave me in the Communication Dark Ages. I slipped both of my phones (as well as my keys) into a stasher, sealed it, and left it resting beside me in the shade. You could do that with a zip-top bag, but then guess what's going in the trash when you get home? More plastic.
Tell us: What are you doing to help make the world a healthier place?