According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), approximately 94 percent of the food we waste—from forgotten leftovers to rotten fruits and veggies—winds up in landfills. But you can be part of the solution by shopping more strategically and practicing more eco-friendly food storage methods.
Storing food in an eco-friendly manner helps protect the planet. Case in point, those disposable plastic baggies that everyone was once so fond of can take as long as 1,000 years to biodegrade. But did you know that doing so can also help protect you and your loved ones? For example, many plastic containers are made with bisphenol A (BPA), an industrial chemical that has been linked to certain health effects.
Smart shopping and storage
Whether you plan to prep and store ingredients, prepare and store meals or store leftovers (or all three), you’re going to need something to hold your food. Following are five eco-friendly storage solutions to consider:
1. Compostable baggies
These are a great alternative to disposable plastic bags. Just like disposable bags, they’re lightweight, which makes them ideal vessels for fruit, sandwiches and other ingredients for school and work lunches. Check out Biobag Resealable Bags. These compostable bags are made with renewable crops and don’t contain any BPA or polyethylene. Just keep in mind that they are “not recommended for use in the microwave or storing liquids.”
2. Reusable snack bags
These are an even greener storage solution than compostable baggies! And since they’re available in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, colors and patterns, they provide a chance to showcase your style. Try earth-friendly Lunchskins Reusable Zippered Sandwich and Snack Bag, which is cost effective, toxin-free, dishwasher-safe and quick drying. And you can’t help but love its playful green patterns!
3. Recycled BPA-free plastic containers
Not all plastic containers are the enemy. Those made of recycled BPA-free plastic offer a simple and reliable solution for food storage. Take a look at this Round Large Preserve Food Storage Container, which is dishwasher safe and microwave durable. It even boasts an innovative lid that screws on tightly to keep foods fresh. Also consider these Preserve Food Storage Containers, available in an array of colors, shapes and sizes!
4. Glass containers
These offer another wonderful way to store foods safely while reducing your ecological footprint. Inexpensive mason jars in various sizes are perfect for housing a variety of ingredients and dishes from flour and grains to layered salads and desserts. If you are freezing foods, choose a thicker glass container as they are less prone to cracking. We’re fans of Lifefactory 1 Cup Glass Food Storage with Silicone Sleeve, which is freezer, dishwasher, microwave- and oven- safe (sans the lid) and free of BPA.
5. Stainless-steel containers
“Save trash from our ever-growing landfills” with durable, reusable stainless-steel food containers, like the U Konserve Large Clear To-Go Container. Ideal for storing prepared ingredients and entrees alike, it’s free of BPA, phthalates and lead and boasts a leak-resistant lid!
Food storage guidelines
Wondering how long you can safely refrigerate and freeze foods before they spoil and/or present a health risk? Reference this Cold Food Storage Chart from foodsafety.org for freshness and safety guidelines.
Gathering for a family feast? Here are 7 Ways to Reduce Food Waste During the Holidays.