We all know plastic bags are bad. They litter our streets and beaches. They masquerade as delicious jellyfish and then choke our lovable marine animals. They photo-degrade (very, very, VERY slowly, I might add), breaking into smaller and smaller bits of toxic contaminates. They’re made from oil, a limited resource in such demand it’s worth starting wars over. According to the EPA, over 380 billion plastic bags, sacks and wraps are consumed in the U.S. each year. That’s a lot of oil. And a lot of garbage.
If only the evil things weren’t so damn useful!
I found plastic grocery bags (and their paper counterparts) easy enough to abandon, and have been using reusable canvas grocery totes for years. And my purse of choice on the weekends is anything stylishly oversized so I can tote home any errand purchases bag free. Easy.
A tougher opponent, I’ve found, is the sandwich bag – particularly at lunch making time. For my own lunches, I prefer reusable glass containers like these and these from Crate & Barrel (less expensive options are certainly available at your local Target or thrift store – check for things like dishwasher/microwave/freezer safe and BPA-free plastic lids). The only problem I’ve had with these containers is my coworker, who’s been known to knock them out of the refrigerator and smash them to bits on the floor, ruining both my container and my long anticipated lunch.
But I’m certainly not going to send my son to school with glass containers. Plastic Tupperware-type containers have a better chance of remaining in one piece and are less costly to replace when he absent-mindedly throws them in the trash, but I don’t like putting my kid’s food in plastic if I can avoid it. So, what then?
Enter ReUsies, stage left.
ReUsies are reusable cotton sandwich and snack bags. They’re lined with a sort of nylony netting that’s super easy to clean (I wipe mine with a damp cloth after daily use, and throw them in the laundry on the weekends). They come in two sizes and velcro close. And, miracle of miracles, my son somehow manages to not throw them away. How brilliant is that? (Added bonus for me: ReUsies are made by Seattle moms, which means I also get to support/buy local.)
A quick Google search shows that there are similar products available on Etsy (like these and these), though ReUsies are the only ones I’ve used and can personally vouch for.* As an alternative, I’ve also seen plastic baggie dryers (like this, or this do-it-yourself version) that allow you to wash out and reuse regular plastic sandwich bags, but I have little faith that my kid would remember to bring home his baggies.
Next foe to defeat: the plastic produce bag. I use as few as possible, and I wash out and reuse any that aren’t lined with rotting vegetable slime. But I’ve yet to figure out a true replacement. Any ideas?
*This is not a paid or comped endorsement of any kind. The ReUsies folks don’t even know I exist. I just really like their product. Hand to gawd.