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How to Get Rid of Plastic

by Deliciously Organic on May 29, 2011

Over the last few years I’ve slowly made the transition to glass, cloth and paper instead of plastic. I’m giving up plastic bags in place of these cloth bags from Olive Manna. They may cost a little more up front, but over time I’ll save money because I won’t buy box after box of plastic bags.

Every time I go Sur La Table I pick up a few of these jars. I store all of my flours, grains, nuts, dried fruit, and baking ingredients in them.

Ball jars are great to store just about anything. They are cheap and dishwasher safe.

I love these paper sandwich bags by If You Care.

How to Get Rid of Plastic

Lunchskins are another great way to stay away from plastic bags. My kids love them!

Start slow. Buy a couple jars or bags every few weeks. After several months you will have reduced your plastic use without much difficulty.

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{ 51 comments… read them below or add one }

Marcy May 29, 2011 at 8:49 pm

It’s been a slow ongoing process over here, too. Started with cloth shopping bags, then knit produce bags, reusing the plastic bags we already have (got a wooden ziploc dryer thingie that helps)… and I am starting to save glass jars from things like peanut butter and pickles and found some pyrex with lids at a yard sale. Now if only they still sold frozen vegetables in the paperboard boxes… or even more varieties in basic plastic instead of that thick crinkly steamer bag plastic. Or if I grew enough to provide all our own veggies, or maybe someday only buy fresh.

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jenjenk May 29, 2011 at 9:37 pm

LOVE that brown paper sandwich bag!!! it’s fantastic!

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Brendajos May 29, 2011 at 9:39 pm

I love the produce bags. I also got in to making my own with leftover scraps of fabric from sewing projects. I have all sorts of fun prints in my bag of shopping bags and they are super easy to make. Just a simple drawstring bag AND washable. yay! They may make my produce weigh a smidge more on the scale but seriously… not enough to make a difference in my wallet.

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Deliciously Organic May 30, 2011 at 10:30 am

Great idea!

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Stephanie, the Recipe Renovator May 29, 2011 at 11:08 pm

Thanks Carrie. I am working towards this too. Have been slowly weaning myself off of products that come in tubs. Just made my own tofu for the first time, and am working on figuring out how to make vegan yogurt so I can use the yogurt maker instead of buying it.

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Dani @ flowersonmyplate.de May 30, 2011 at 3:11 am

Thank you Carrie, this is such an important topic! A few months ago we watched a movie about plastic and how dangerous it is and how actually no one really knows what exactly it is made of (!), very shocking! Not to mention the environmental effects it causes.
One day after (and I am usually not that impulsive…) I started buying the same glasses like you have from Sur La Table for flours, sugar, beans etc. It is not even healthier and more environmental friendly but also my pantry has never been so well organised! And it looks pretty, too :)
I also get used to freeze things in glass. As long as you only fill them 2/3 with liquid they won´t break.
There are a lot of tips and help in the internet, in the beginning I was shocked how much plastic we have around us day by day and had no clue how to replace it, especially in the kitchen. Know I feel a lot more confident about it.

Thanks a lot for bringing this up!

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Robie Dodson May 30, 2011 at 8:13 am

Do you remember the name of the film about plastics? I’d love to watch it with my family, too!

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Deliciously Organic May 30, 2011 at 10:18 am

I’ve never seen it. Anyone know the name?

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Emily S May 30, 2011 at 3:58 pm

We watched a documentary on plastics that I think she may be talking about. It’s called Bag It. Really informative.

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Deliciously Organic May 31, 2011 at 7:47 am

Thank you!

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Dani @ flowersonmyplate.de June 1, 2011 at 2:51 am

sorry Ladies, just saw your questions! The movie I meant is called “Plastic Planet” by Werner Boode. It´s very good, I can totally recommend it!

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Deliciously Organic May 30, 2011 at 10:30 am

That’s a good reminder to not fill the container all the way to the top. I always leave a couple inches when I freeze chicken stock and other liquids. Unfortunately I had to learn the hard way though. I froze my stock one day, opened the freezer the next, and all of my ball jars had burst! I’ll never do that again. :)

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Mamabear, JD May 30, 2011 at 4:32 am

I did not know about those paper sandwich bags, thanks for posting those! I have been getting little stainless containers for the kids over time and we love not using plastic snack bags.

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Alison May 30, 2011 at 5:09 am

We’ve been slowly making this transition too. I love the paper sandwich bags! That was something I was getting stuck on. Thanks for sharing your solutions!

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Laura May 30, 2011 at 6:03 am

I bought few heavy canvas grocery bags that were inexpensive and I always have them in the car. It has become a habit to always carry them to every store I go, and if I forget I carry everything to the car, I am sure a lot of cashiers think I am crazy. My kids are on the same page and will refuse a plastic bag faster than I.

I see more and more people bring their own reusable bags, but it is still a very small percentage, especially to big chain grocery stores.

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Jennie January 3, 2014 at 11:14 am

I also bring my reusable bags with me every time and every where I shop. I’m still surprised when a cashier starts putting my items into a plastic bag when I have my reusable bag on the counter in front of her and I have to say I’ll use my own bag.

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Jodi May 30, 2011 at 7:38 am

And for the “Re-Use” part of the equation…

Remember our beloved Grandmas all used covered dishes with glass lids.
She survived just fine without plastic wrap, baggies in every size, and ziploc containers, so surely we can too.

A recent trip to the antique store reminded me how retro style can actually seem so modern and new again, but what really struck me is how these dishes are perfectly designed and perfectly sized for multi-purpose use and come complete with their very own glass lid.
(prep,bake, store, serve, refrigerate, etc…)

Brilliant.
(Why did we ever get away from that?)

They have certainly proven to be resilient, because there are still a whole lot of these darling dishes in nearly every consignment store, flea market, and garage sales all across the country just waiting for new use.
Most of them only cost a couple of bucks.
More things were made in the USA back then too, double-win.

So, before you run out and buy brand new, maybe take a peek in a resale shop and choose to re-use instead. :-)

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Deliciously Organic May 30, 2011 at 10:27 am

Great reminder Jodi. I’ll have to keep my eyes peeled for jars and containers next time I’m at an antique store or flea market.

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Mamabear, JD May 31, 2011 at 6:11 am

Yes! The vintage Pyrex refrigerator dishes with lids are close to perfect. I have used one set for years, unfortunately I have broken 3 lids while one-handed grabbing (baby on the hip syndrome!) It took me a long time to convince my husband that we didn’t need to cover with plastic wrap. They are a much more functional shape than the new ones that anchor hocking makes. Shallow and wide vs deep.

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Michelle May 30, 2011 at 7:41 am

Mason jars are wonderful. They come in different sizes and you can get screw-on lids for them easily.

I came across this tutorial for making your own produce bags out of old t-shirts:

http://deliacreates.blogspot.com/2011/05/greeneasy-knit-produce-bag.html

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Deliciously Organic May 30, 2011 at 10:26 am

Wow, this is a fantastic idea! My daughter is huge into craft projects. I think I’ll give her a few t-shirts to make some for us!

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the urban baker May 30, 2011 at 8:06 am

Carrie, love this post. I have spent the last few years eliminating waste and trash as well. For almost 20 years I have only used cloth napkins, i don’t put my veggies in plastic bags at the grocery store, use only reusable grocery bags, and my kids take a non trash lunch every day. However, I have one dilema that I cannot figure out. When I freeze or flash freeze protiens, fruit that is on it’s last leg(like to freeze for smoothies) or leftover bread(I like to make bread crumbs with left over bread), I am forced to use a ziploc. Help…do you have a solution?

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Deliciously Organic May 30, 2011 at 10:25 am

Susan, please look above at my response to Anna. I love my larger glass containers!

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Cooking in the Florida Heat October 27, 2011 at 10:56 am

Susan,
Try using silpat on a cookie sheet for flash freezing and then moving it to glass jars once frozen. I do this all the time. Nothing sticks to the silpat and it’s a breeze to clean up!

I started purchasing glass jars many years ago. I’ve found the most fabulous glass bakeware and storage containers at antique stores. There is something organic and soothing about glass :)

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Berny January 10, 2013 at 6:28 am

Isn’t silpat plastic? Try parchment paper. Nothing sticks to it either. I reuse it as long as I can.

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Deliciously Organic January 11, 2013 at 10:10 am

Yes, silpat is plastic. A better alternative is parchment paper.

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Robie Dodson May 30, 2011 at 8:12 am

This is a GREAT post, Carrie! Thanks for the nudge and the inspiration.

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Anna May 30, 2011 at 9:45 am

I like to pick a lot of berries in the summer and freeze them for eating throughout the winter. I often use plastic freezer bags — any suggestions for replacing that plastic? I think it would take too many jars and whole strawberries wouldn’t fit well in them. I would love ideas to get rid of these plastic bags in my freezer!

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Deliciously Organic May 30, 2011 at 10:24 am

I like to use glass pyrex containers or other glass containers. Here are a few of my favorites: http://amzn.to/loivDH , http://bit.ly/lEyy9M

Also, the largest jars from Sur La Table are $9 and hold a large volume. Again, I buy a few at a time, but it’s made a huge difference! Target also carries glass jars that are similar to the ones at Sur La Table.

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Brooke@Foodwoolf May 30, 2011 at 12:16 pm

What great suggestions. And thank you for starting us off with a few really great ideas. It really helps!

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marla {family fresh cooking} May 30, 2011 at 1:58 pm

We use those snack bags too. Love them. Carrie, this is a great post that I will refer back to. Great eco products.

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erin @naturally ella May 30, 2011 at 6:42 pm

Oh! I love my baggu produce bags- I don’t ever head to the grocery store without them! Great post!

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Diane May 31, 2011 at 6:05 am

We use our own bags when going to the grocery store and I have tons of Ball Jars for my items at home. I try not to put produce in bags when at the store…

But what do you all use when you buy bulk items like oats, beans, etc. ?

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Chrissy May 31, 2011 at 8:31 am

Great post! I have been slowly making the transition, but I need to be better about getting rid of ziplock bags.

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Lucy Lean May 31, 2011 at 9:34 am

Thanks for making me at least WANT to do better!

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Katie May 31, 2011 at 9:46 am

LOVE LOVE LOVE this post!!! I am always looking at ways to reduce waste. In fact, I was just discussing sharing trash service with our neighbor because we can never fill our can!

My question is – how do you keep your bread fresh? Right now, I reuse the bags from the grocery store or a recycled ziplock…. do you put yours in cloth? How does it hold up?

Thanks!

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Deliciously Organic May 31, 2011 at 11:42 am

You can wrap it in a damp tea towel and then put it in a cloth bag. It will keep a couple days like that. You can also freeze part of the loaf if you don’t go through the bread very quickly (I do this since we don’t eat a lot of bread). You can also store it in a bread box, but I don’t know how long it will keep fresh.

Anyone else have any ideas?

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Berny January 10, 2013 at 6:33 am

I think our grandmothers used tin boxes for storing bread. Sometimes you can get these at resale shops. Usually they are round but sometimes you can get square ones that specialty cookies came in.

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Mary Lynn August 25, 2011 at 7:16 am

What do you do about storing homemade cereals?

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Deliciously Organic August 25, 2011 at 8:32 pm

I store my cereals in glass jars. They keep very well in them.

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Rebecca August 26, 2011 at 7:47 pm

I haven’t read every post on this, so forgive me if someone’s already offered this up. But I’ve quickly sewn (even with my very poor sewing skills, if you can call them that) produce bags using tulle. Very light and “airy” to let the produce breathe. The only problem has been that I don’t always remember to bring them with when shopping. Oh, and to make things better, the tulle was bought at a garage sale for $2 and still on the cardboard bolt.

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Shelly September 2, 2011 at 7:17 am

I am just starting on this journey, and am just now trying to at least get the plastic out of our foods. I am stumped at one place, though. I make my own baby food, freezing it in silicone trays, and then pop them out into plastic bags. We also put up fresh corn and peaches every year in plastic freezer bags. I am trying to figure out what I can do to get rid of the plastic bags, but still have something that would be freezer safe and protect from freezer-burn as well as the bags do. Do you have any suggestions?

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Deliciously Organic September 2, 2011 at 9:19 am

For the freezer, I like using the pyrex glass containers. They do have a plastic lid, but you can put a small sheet of parchment paper on top of the food and then snap on the lid. I’ve never had one of these containers break. I’m so glad to hear you make your own baby food. Many people don’t realize how easy it is and so much healthier for the little ones. :)

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kimberly February 27, 2012 at 11:46 am

I just ordered planet lunchboxes for 1/2 of my family. They are pricey, but stainless steel. The first thing I thought as I was packing stuff in the little containers was WOW, I won’t have to use plastic baggies on any of this stuff anymore. So nice.
I also recently started storing a lot of things in the glass jars. I love the food saver attachment that sucks out the air and seals the lid. If you already have a food saver, the attachement isn’t very expensive. They make it wide mouth or narrow, but I just got wide and then started stocking up on various sizes of wide mouth jars. I love them. I store tons of things in them, and I do have to agree, I love the way they look. Very clean, and very uniform.
Thanks for the post.

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Bonnie February 27, 2012 at 7:40 pm

I save and collect jars. I buy a 32oz chocolate milk from Traderspoint Creamery (organic grassfed creamery milk) every week and reuse the bottles for our fresh carrot, grapefruit and oj. etc. He use to say I was hoarding, now he see it’s better to get milk in the bottle for $3.99 then to pay that or more for an empty one.

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Eva March 6, 2012 at 2:28 pm

I store my onions in a mesh bag and hang it from our pot rack. They last so much longer there, open to the air on all sides, than when I set them on the ground in a cellar, on the counter, or store them in the refrigerator! Just a onion-saving tip I’ve discovered!

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Laura January 9, 2013 at 10:01 am

My problem is carrying stuff to school and work. I am slowly getting on board with removing plastic. I like the sandwich bags mentioned above, but without my reusable/washable ziploc containers for carrying food to school and work, I am lost. We can’t use glass and most stuff (eg, cut up fruit) is too wet for anything else.

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Cathrine January 3, 2014 at 3:47 pm

I use the Planetbox lunch boxes for this. They are brilliant and you can even put yoghurt in the extra pots that comes with them. The kids loves their planet box and I believe they make them in adult sizes too. There are also other stainless steel products out there for lunch boxes that are more affordable.

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Jamie January 9, 2013 at 1:32 pm

I’d also like to get suggestions for bulk food (smaller things like grains), and what do you use for trash bags?
Also, I’ve been trying to come up with an idea for our newly adopted 14 year old mini dachshund… if you don’t watch her, she’ll do her business on the floor (no warning or asking to go out). Right now, we’re using donated puppy pads (plastic backed…), but I’d like to get away from that. She will go in her crate also (and then needs a bath because she has no problems laying in it). We’re pretty good about getting her out in time during the day, but at night, the pads are helpful.

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Chantelle January 3, 2014 at 10:48 am

I also use old spaghetti sauce, coconut oil, or salsa jars. It takes a bit to get the labels off but a good soak in warm soapy water for a couple hours gets it off.

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Cathrine January 3, 2014 at 3:44 pm

I started the project of removing plastics from our household years ago, but I’ve had to give up. With moving so much (military) I found that the volume of glass (as it doesn’t stack well) just became too much and is increasing our volume by quite a bit. How do you get around that as you move around a lot too? Ideally I would like every plastic container in the house gone..

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