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Reducing Plastics at Home


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I know I will never reach 'zero-waste' but I like to occasionally review my habits and see where I can eliminate or reduce use of plastics and stuff in general.  So... I'd love any tips that have worked for anyone, plus I was wondering if anyone has used a plant based trash bag instead of a name brand plastic trash bag (i get mine from costco). https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B075X2DGBF/ref=ox_sc_act_title_2?smid=A1AISJ16JRSXOB&th=1 

 

I don't want to buy something more expensive just to make myself feel like I'm doing a more environmentally friendly action!

 

Any tips on freezing foods in something that is NOT a plastic ziploc bag? I tried a glass container once and it cracked.  Plastic tubs are reusable, but it's still plastic.  

 

Thanks for letting me pick your brains!

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Not sure what kind of glass container you used for freezing, but I use wide mouth canning jars and have never had one crack in the freezer. I do let hot stuff cool down on the counter for a bit, then chill it in the fridge before moving it to the freezer.

 

I have various sizes of the wide mouth canning jars for storing all sorts of stuff. I do use the single piece plastic lids for them most of the time, but the avoided hassle of two-piece lids makes that worthwhile to me. The same size lids for a variety of containers makes storage easier.

 

I also use quite a few Pyrex containers (again with plastic lids) for food storage, including in the freezer.

 

I don't have any experience with plant-based trash bags.

 

One habit that we've had for quite a while are cloth napkins. I made several dozen small cloth napkins years ago, from a heavy duty cotton fabric, and they have held up great and significantly cut our paper product usage and waste.

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Not sure what kind of glass container you used for freezing, but I use wide mouth canning jars and have never had one crack in the freezer. I do let hot stuff cool down on the counter for a bit, then chill it in the fridge before moving it to the freezer.

 

I have various sizes of the wide mouth canning jars for storing all sorts of stuff. I do use the single piece plastic lids for them most of the time, but the avoided hassle of two-piece lids makes that worthwhile to me. The same size lids for a variety of containers makes storage easier.

 

I also use quite a few Pyrex containers (again with plastic lids) for food storage, including in the freezer.

 

I don't have any experience with plant-based trash bags.

 

One habit that we've had for quite a while are cloth napkins. I made several dozen small cloth napkins years ago, from a heavy duty cotton fabric, and they have held up great and significantly cut our paper product usage and waste.

One thing about the wide mouth canning jars — they aren’t all freezer safe any more. I saw some in Walmart recently and there were two different types of jars by the same brand, and the label on one said it was freezer safe and the label on the other package said not to put the jars in the freezer. I wouldn’t have even thought to look for that information except that the packages were two different prices and I was trying to figure out why one cost more than the other.

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One thing about the wide mouth canning jars — they aren’t all freezer safe any more. I saw some in Walmart recently and there were two different types of jars by the same brand, and the label on one said it was freezer safe and the label on the other package said not to put the jars in the freezer. I wouldn’t have even thought to look for that information except that the packages were two different prices and I was trying to figure out why one cost more than the other.

 

That's good to know. It's been years since I've needed to buy any. When I was shopping for them Ace Hardware consistently had the best price. 

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Great topic. This is something I'd like to work on too. We use a lot of plastic bags. I wash and reuse them a lot, but eliminating them would be my preference.

 

What kind of stuff are you freezing? There's old fashioned freezer paper, which you could use for meats. I wonder if that would work for fruit too. We often freeze bananas and berries. 

 

I freeze chicken stock in quart sized plastic bags, but I would love to find a non-plastic alternative. Mason jars seem like they would take up so much space, whereas my bags lie flat. It would certainly be a more environmental choice, though, so I should try it.

 

 

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Can you go trash bag-free? Here, we concentrate on generating as little trash as possible. Here is an article with suggestions for going bagless and/or alternative bags.

 

If you don't use trash bags, can I ask how you get your trash to the landfill? I thought most garbage companies required bags. And it's hard to picture transporting it in our car (which is what we do) without any bags.

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We switched to solid shampoo and conditioner from Lush. It is more expensive up front, but it lasts forever. And it works really well. So that’s fewer plastic containers. I will say this was a hard switch for me. I love salon products. But I have been impressed. We also have a Lush store close by, which I realize not everyone does.

 

I do use plastic containers for packing my kids’ lunches. I don’t want to send glass to school. However, we have used the same ones for years and we are not using plastic baggies, so I feel better about it.

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We switched to solid shampoo and conditioner from Lush. It is more expensive up front, but it lasts forever. And it works really well. So that’s fewer plastic containers. I will say this was a hard switch for me. I love salon products. But I have been impressed. We also have a Lush store close by, which I realize not everyone does.

 

I do use plastic containers for packing my kids’ lunches. I don’t want to send glass to school. However, we have used the same ones for years and we are not using plastic baggies, so I feel better about it.

We use Lush solids too.

 

Have you tried tiffins for packing lunches?  

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I haven’t! Thanks!

 

They're fun. The three level one is especially popular here - it's like opening a little surprise gift every day at lunch.  :laugh:

 

eta you can purchase tiffins for much less at Indian and often Latin grocery stores.

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Bea Johnson's book Zero Waste Home is great (and some information is on her blog).

 

By paying for a pick-up compost service, we reduced our trash immensely, and now use small recycled paper bags intended for restaurant take-out (bought from a restaurant supply store). I tried other compost methods and didn't do well, though I know a lot of people have success with it.

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Not sure what kind of glass container you used for freezing, but I use wide mouth canning jars and have never had one crack in the freezer. I do let hot stuff cool down on the counter for a bit, then chill it in the fridge before moving it to the freezer.

 

I have various sizes of the wide mouth canning jars for storing all sorts of stuff. I do use the single piece plastic lids for them most of the time, but the avoided hassle of two-piece lids makes that worthwhile to me. The same size lids for a variety of containers makes storage easier.

 

I also use quite a few Pyrex containers (again with plastic lids) for food storage, including in the freezer.

 

I don't have any experience with plant-based trash bags.

 

One habit that we've had for quite a while are cloth napkins. I made several dozen small cloth napkins years ago, from a heavy duty cotton fabric, and they have held up great and significantly cut our paper product usage and waste.

Oooh Yes, I use the cloth napkins, but most of the rest of my family won't!  I keep paper napkins for when we have company over.  I'll try the canning jars again and check into their manufacturing recommendations to see if they're freezer safe.  I do use glass jars for storage, so that's helpful.

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What kind of stuff are you freezing? There's old fashioned freezer paper, which you could use for meats. I wonder if that would work for fruit too. We often freeze bananas and berries. 

 

I freeze chicken stock in quart sized plastic bags, but I would love to find a non-plastic alternative. Mason jars seem like they would take up so much space, whereas my bags lie flat. It would certainly be a more environmental choice, though, so I should try it.

 

I'm thinking of the soup, broth, chili, homemade beans, spaghetti sauce.  Things I like to freeze flat in a ziploc bag!

If the jars work, it would take up tons of space.

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Can you go trash bag-free? Here, we concentrate on generating as little trash as possible. Here is an article with suggestions for going bagless and/or alternative bags.

Our city requires trash be collected in bags, so at this point I'm thinking of ways to reduce that trash, or maybe to use a trash bag that is not new plastic.  Since I already throw away certain plastic bags (like bread bags), maybe I will put garbage in those little bags and throw them in the big bin.  (I just read last night that those bread bags can be recycled, so there goes that idea).

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I'm thinking of the soup, broth, chili, homemade beans, spaghetti sauce.  Things I like to freeze flat in a ziploc bag!

If the jars work, it would take up tons of space.

 

Yup, that's my issue too. 

 

What about this idea? I haven't tried it, I'm just brainstorming. I remember when I was pregnant I froze casseroles like this -- I put foil in the pan, then filled the casserole pan (like lasagna, for example) and put it in the freezer. When it was frozen, I popped the casserole out of the pan and wrapped it in plastic. Or maybe more foil.

 

Anyway, I wonder if it's possible to do something similar with liquid foods. Freeze them in a flat container, then pop them out and wrap them. Obviously my old method of wrapping in plastic wouldn't be good, but perhaps freezer paper would work. The popping out part seems most difficult. A flexible silicone container might be best. 

 

Does something like that seem feasible? I might experiment with just water to see if it's possible before risking my precious homemade broth.

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Our city requires trash be collected in bags, so at this point I'm thinking of ways to reduce that trash, or maybe to use a trash bag that is not new plastic. Since I already throw away certain plastic bags (like bread bags), maybe I will put garbage in those little bags and throw them in the big bin. (I just read last night that those bread bags can be recycled, so there goes that idea).

This is what I have tried and my family won't do it. I don't generate much trash my self so it's kind of pointless. I supposed I could force them by not buying more trash bags. It worked with cloth napkins. I think my dh would just buy bags if I refused.

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I have a few possibilities.

 

As far as glass for freezing, you can get stuff that is freezer safe for storage.  It will say so on the label.

 

On the occasions where I find I need to wrap something like food, I often find I can use a non-plastic choice.  Depending on the item a clean cloth, some parchment paper, or wax paper can work well.  I'll sometimes wrap cookies in lunches that way for example, if a container won't work.  Wax paper can stand in for quite a few jobs where you might have used plastic wrap.

 

Also, if you have a Bulk Barn, they may have a program to allow you to bring your own containers.  You weigh them first and then fill them with what you want.  There really is a lot of stuff available at those places so you may be able to reduce a fair bit of consumer packaging that way.

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Our city requires trash be collected in bags, so at this point I'm thinking of ways to reduce that trash, or maybe to use a trash bag that is not new plastic.  Since I already throw away certain plastic bags (like bread bags), maybe I will put garbage in those little bags and throw them in the big bin.  (I just read last night that those bread bags can be recycled, so there goes that idea).

 

You could always use just the one big bag for the main garbage, and none for smaller household cans.  Then you just tip the smaller cans into the big one to place at the curb.

 

It helps if you buy the smaller cans with bin liners that come out of the can so you can wipe them down when you need to.

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