Tuesday, June 8, 2010

plastic bags: one alternative to ziplocs

i really take issue with plastic bags.
they have become such a normal part of our daily lives
that to live without them, or at least with fewer of them,
requires determination and dedication.

plastic bags fall into a few major categories:
1. shopping bags
2. produce bags
3. food storage bags

in this post,
i will rant a bit about
food storage bags
(i'll discuss produce bags & shopping bags in future posts)

my suggestion:
use fewer single-use plastic bags.
quit buying ziploc bags.

my use-what-you've-got alternative:
reuse the plastic bags
that come in every box of cereal
and every box of crackers.

these nondescript plastic bags
that don't even really have a name ("box liners"?)
are completely underutilized.
they are better than ziplocs for several reasons...
they have been used once already.
they are free.
they are sturdy.
they are easy to wash & reuse over and over.
and my favorite:
they are already in your pantry!!

here's whatcha do:
once you have an empty bag...  cut off the crimped top...
~ voila! ~
ready for packing a sandwich... or chips to go!
(i use a little piece of tape to hold it closed.)

use it to pack your lunch.
bring it home.
wash it / dry it / store it
use it again.
(note: if my 10-year-old can do it, YOU can do it!)

now, if you have ever tried to do the right thing
and wash out a ziploc bag for reuse,
then you are familiar with the way that filmy plastic
tends to cling together when wet.
washing them out is easy enough,
but getting them dry is another matter.
there are contraptions and tricks (like chopsticks in a jar)
that can facilitate the drying process,
but it's difficult to keep the air flowing through them.

my alternative:
the stiffer plastic of these bags stands up & stays open
so they dry in a jiffy.☺

they store nicely, too.

more on plastic... 
some plastic is recyclable.
it can be recycled into new plastic,
but unlike paper or glass,
plastic has a "memory" -
each time it is heated and reformed,
it becomes more brittle.
i believe it is always best to reduce & reuse
before you recycle.

plastic, as you know, does not biodegrade.
instead, it breaks down into teeny-tiny little bits
that cling together out in the open ocean.
miles wide.

this is a phenomenon that has not gotten
nearly enough news coverage,
in my opinion.

basically, it is floating trash, which is bad enough.
but ocean animals eat the minute bits of plastic,
confusing it for zooplankton.
since it contains no nutrients, it can cause starvation.
since it is buoyant,
it can cause some animals to float to the surface.
in addition, toxic chemicals tend to cling to these plastic particles
making them even more dangerous if consumed.

be a part of the solution:
use fewer plastic bags.
please google plastic in the ocean for more information


Pam said...

thank you for this catie. i was planning on buying re-usable baggies for next years lunch boxes. everytime i use a ziploc bag i cringe...i KNOW i'm not helping mother earth using them! our town recycles everything..i generate more recycling than trash...but i didn't know about plastic having a "memory"...i am going to start re-using our cracker baggies!! xoxo

catie said...

pam ~
that's one small step for your lunchbox,
one giant leap for our planet.

Dawn said...

Catie Girl...the things you get me to do! So this morning after reading your post I have 1 cracker and 2 cereal bags drying on the counter and my hubby says "are we recycling these??"...I say "yep, Catie says I should" and he says "well she hasn't steered us wrong yet, that salad dressing was delicious!!!!" Love you!!

catie said...

dawn ~
starting in our kitchens, we are making a difference.
i am so glad you loved the dressing.
it is hands-down our favorite.
now, you've got to try it as a marinade for chicken and as a dressing for pasta salad.

sewmuchwhimsy said...

Well, catie, I was in the middle of responding to your brilliant post this morning and I spilled a big cup of tea right on my keyboard!!!!!!!!!! So this afternoon off to the Apple store I went to buy a new keyboard. But I have 2 "box liners" drying on my counter right now...you inspired me! xooxo Gretchen

Emily said...

This is such a grand idea! Seriously, I would have never known to do this. Keep the great tips a coming Catie! And, I made the salad dressing last night, and poured it over tomatoes, cucumber and feta cheese for lunch today. OMG! Good stuff!!!!!!!

catie said...

gretchen! i'm so sorry to hear about your tea incident. i wonder if that was when i was writing my "tea" post??
i am thrilled that you are going to give "box liners" a try.

emily ~ so glad you are digging the dressing. we ♥ it!

martha said...

love the liners for baggies idea...
and gonna try the dressing this weekend....YUM!

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