Published: Nov. 9, 2020 By

How to Store Food Without Plastic

Single-use plastics, albeit convenient, are an avoidable environmental catastrophe. These single-use plastics are made mainly from fossil fuel-based chemicals and are typically meant to be disposed of after each use, sometimes lasting only a few minutes. Since we quickly use and then proceed to throw out these plastics, the impact of each zip-lock bag, each to-go container, etc. may hardly register in our minds. However, the environmental price we have to pay to maintain our plastic addictions will be extraneous for millions of years to come. The impacts of these plastics have saddening effects on our own health, our wildlife, and our oceans. Single-use plastics are most commonly used for packaging and service ware, including bottles, wrappers, straws and bags. But, there are much better and environmentally friendly ways to store food without use of these detrimental plastics!

Going Back to the Way Things Used to be:

  • it is unfortunate that milk used to be sold in glass jugs but is now more commonly found in plastic milk cartons. However, instead of buying milk cartons, there are places you can buy glass milk cartons and then bring the empty glass bottles back to get a refill. Oberweis is an example of a place that can accommodate this for you. There are also many curbside programs where you can go to recycle your milk cartons. 
  • Keeping your jars are so important! When you buy items that naturally come in jars, such as pickles, jam, etc., make sure to keep them to use them for food storage or to use as drinking glasses!

Where to Keep Food Bought in Bulk:

  • When buying food in bulk, put items in the freezer that you might not eat before they go bad make. The freezer will keep it fresh for longer and not create a race to eat before it expires. 
  • For fresh produce you are not able to eat right away, you should place certain vegetables (such as kale - stem first) in a glass of water and place it in your fridge. 
  • If you have fruit that would otherwise go bad, make sure to place them inside the freezer, without cutting them, so they can stay fresh until you are ready to eat them. This applies to tomatoes too. 

Where to Keep Leftovers:

  • Investing in Beeswax wrap is an environmentally conscious decision that will enhance your food’s freshness and rectify using single-use plastics to store extra food or snacks you bring with you to school or work!
  • A better solution to leftover lettuce is to wrap it inside of a towel and roll it up and put it inside your fridge! This will reduce wilting and keep the freshness intact.
  • Similarly to lettuce, wrapping peas and beans in damp cloth has the same affect and is waste free!
  • If you run out of jars to use for leftover, simply placing a plate over the bowl of food is sufficient and easily accessible.
  • The best way to store onions and potatoes are placing it in a basket and a dark place or simply a dark room if you do not have a basket.

Other Considerations in Plastic-Free food (buying):

  • Make sure to bring reusable produce bags with you every time you go to the grocery store so you do not need to use those single-use bags for fruit and vegetables.
  • Simply selecting products that use no plastic packaging is something that anyone could do, and if you have the choice to shop at bulk grocery stores.
  • Store certain produce in the fridge until they ripen and are ready to eat.
  • Tins are a great alternative for items like crackers and baked goods. 
  • Keep all jars and tins that you purchase and continue to reuse them for all sorts of food storage!

Zero Waste... Did You Know?

Check out our other Zero Waste articles!

  • General Zero Waste info and news
  • Facts, concepts, and opinions from CU students, faculty, and staff
  • Industry news and policy
  • Zero Waste Lifestyle and DIY ideas

Click Here for more "Zero Waste... Did You Know"