Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Replacing Ziploc with Glass: Oil Independence Steps

Plastic. It's so ubiquitous and such a horrendously large part of our lives. We're surrounded by petroleum in the form of plastic, from our nylon clothing to our plastic containers.

Quick stats as to why you should care (beyond the ridiculous oil gushing into our precious ocean):

  • plastic products last forever.... or minimum 1000 years. At least.
  • plastic is made from toxic petroleum, which we destroy our oceans and earth in order to extract followed by spewing out tons of chemicals to refine.
  • We had a nice big Pacific Garbage Patch the size of Texas hanging out in our ocean.
  • food kept and heated in plastic containers have been shown to take on chemical properties of said petroleum plastic. 
  • According to CBC documentary 'The Disappearing Male', research is starting to point to plastic (toys, containers, shower curtains) as the culprit for a decrease in sperm numbers and ultimately number of male births.

Another step in our 'Oil Independence Plan' was to decrease plastic food storage in our lives. Which was deceptively difficult.

Long Term Goal: Eliminate ziploc bags as food storage.
Short Term Steps
  1. Get used to storing cheese in a ziploc container instead of a bag. This took some time, but we finally figured out the perfect size container- score! 
  2. Buy glass storage containers. We started with three glass anchor containers. Eventually, as I realized we would use them, we slowly bought more glass containers, some of different sizes. 
  3. Start storing veggies in glass containers. This actually was easier than I thought. I always cut the center away from peppers and such so squeezing them in was no problem. Just had to figure out how to fit them in the fridge. 
  4. Stop buying ziploc bags... when we run out, we run out. I don't even remember it being an event when it happened! I only realized when a guest asked for one that we were out!).
Canadian peppers in a glass container
Current Status: We no longer use ziploc bags for storage! We're still phasing out the plastic containers and are reusing non-recyclable yogurt containers though. Surprisingly, glass containers are WAY easier to clean. Even for those icky non-identifiable substances that have populated new furry cities can become squeaky clean with no residue smell. Unlike the plastic containers that small scratches and nicks result in icky gross food smell and discolouration.

Our cluttered container cupboard
The downside? Lunch. I have my nifty stainless steel lunchbox, but should I want to bring something extra it needs to go in a glass container. Which is heavy to walk with to work... even though I can microwave the food once at work sans plastic ick seeping into my lunch. Which is nice. Also, the blue hard plastic tops of the anchor containers have mostly all cracked... which sucks. I still use them, but had to buy the flexible plastic tops- and they're more expensive.

Do you have some ideas to help you go ziploc, plastic food storage free?

article copyright of EcoYogini at


  1. Move to the UK where ziploc bags are the same price as golddust ;)

  2. awesome. I will finally have some money coming in soon, so I can afford some glass storage containers, yay! Did you find a brand that you liked?

  3. I have been reusing my ziplocks for a couple of years now and I haven't bought a box of new ones in as long as I can remember. It is really hard to find a pie sized glass container with a lid! So for the big stuff I still use them but make sure that the food stored in them is cold...usually the pies in the ziplocks are heading to the freezer. We still use plastic containers for food but NEVER put hot food in it OR heat it up in the microwave! We have also been saving all of the jars that we get from the food we buy...which these days is very little since I make most things from scratch now...Last but no least, we also have Corelle for our dishes and they make lids that go over their bowls! VERY cool! So we bought a bunch and since they are indestructible (almost) and light we use them A LOT!

  4. that's funny, that's been one of my focuses this year, especially now getting rid of anything with a plastic lid (notice how many glass containers still have plastic lids?).

    i found these fantastic variety-size glass jars with glass lids, like the old style your granny had ( i am using them to store bulk foods and can't wait to buy more!

  5. awesome!!

    this has been a project of mine for some's a tricky process though.

    i recycle some glass jars that food comes in ie. jam etc. to use as storage -- as long as there's no smell residue...and store leftovers in regular bowls with those shower-cap thingies on top.

    i also wash out and reuse ziploc bags so a box lasts forever...literally too, i suppose...:(

    we do a fair amount of hiking and picnicking and lugging glass along on my back just isn't i try to find a happy medium.

    great post!!

  6. I'm on this same mission. I've been putting leftovers in glass, and I'm reusing the same box of ziplocs. Often, I just put veggies or fruits into the fridge without any container at all. If it's just a day or two, this seems to work out fine.

    The thing that's hardest is that I travel a lot, and sometimes when i come home, and am tired and hungry, I end up buying frozen meals encased in plastic. I've got to start planning ahead for that.

  7. This is an excellent challenge. We freeze a lot from the garden in ziploc bags, but we are re-using as many as we can. You have inspired me to use more glass jars for more things. It's ridiculous how easily we have forgotten what our grandmothers knew. Thanks for your ongoing personal response to the latest oil-spill.

  8. Good for you, Ecoyogini!

    There are some cool products out there for reusable eco-friendly food storage that you could use when you're packing food out.
    See this website:
    They are pretty awesome!

  9. We bought a bunch of glass Anchor and Pyrex storage containers last year. They are awesome! They are a little heavier to walk to work with, but it's not such a big deal. I agree, they are so much easier to clean! I love them. We have 3 different sizes of them.

    Last year I posted an ad on Kijiji for glass baby food jars. We store spices in them, nuts, and we put fruit in them to bring to work (grapes, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries). They are awesome! You can't recycle those jars here, so I'm glad to give a home to a bunch of them.

    I've also been reusing my glass jam jars and such by storing my bulk food in them. I store Quinoa, chick peas, baking soda, etc in them. I buy my staple items at Bulk Barn and reuse their plastic bags so most of our food doesn't have packaging. We buy a ton of fruits and veggies.

    We bought a glass kettle on the weekend at Canadian Tire. It's so cute! I noticed that our tea tastes like "cancer" (i.e. like plastic) sometimes, so I replaced our plastic kettle (which I'll sell on Kijiji) with a glass kettle. The glass kettle actually heats the water WAY hotter than our old one. We bought some glass mugs yesterday for our tea too. I'm going to sell a bunch of our ceramic mugs. So if I find our tea still tastes like cancer, it's probably from the plastic Brita container or from the chemicals in our water which means we need to change our Brita filter or buy a glass water jug to store our water.

  10. These are some great ideas! I'm trying to phase out plastic as much as possible in my life as well, but food storage is definitely one of the more difficult areas.

  11. This is great! I do this, too, but where I really struggle is with food storage. I freeze a ton of stuff all summer long and I can't use glass because it traps air inside, which damages the food. I have to use plastic bags so I can press out the air. Plus, stacked glass jars takes up way too much space compared to plastic baggies. I hate them, but I care more about storing local foods in season than completely avoiding plastic right now. To compensate, I make sure to reuse the bags, and I do use glass jars for wet things like curry paste, pesto, and tomato sauce.

    This isn't specifically related to your topic, but I've also struggled quite a bit with produce bags. Yes, you can buy or make bags from cotton or hemp or mesh, but those do not retain moisture, which is essential for so many foods. They're fine for quick trips, but not if I can only shop once a week, or even once every two weeks, and need food to stay fresh for that long. So again, I'm compensating by reusing the bags - but they are not very sturdy and that doesn't work for very long. I am SO frustrated with this one!

  12. We have been free of plastic containers for a year now. We bought a complete supply of Pyrex glass containers (lids are plastic, unavoidable for sealing them I guess unless they made some out of rubber). And, as a bonus, not made in China (they are made in the USA, where we live). We sent all the plastic to recycling, except for a few that my husband can use in his shop. We also bought a dozen wide-mouth Mason canning jars. They are good for soups, home-made yogurt, sauces etc. and can be frozen if you don't fill them up all the way. The glass containers are good for bringing lunch to work and can be microwaved. In my padded lunch bag, they are safe from breaking.

    For veggie storage, google "reusable bags". Although they sell plastic bags, they also sell woven cloth bags in all sizes for veggies.

  13. actually, I never really considered the plastic produce bags as "food storage"... especially since produce needs to breathe and keeping them in plastic bags will just quicken the decomp process...

    so i'm not sure about the "retaining moisture" part...

    I really really heart my mesh and solid cotton produce bags and actually keep my lettuce etc in them in the fridge. When they're done I throw the bags in the wash and we're good to go :) Love love them.

    About the freezing.... we're actually working on Andrew's ability to handle eating food that's been frozen (ahem, family history has warped him forever, another post that probably shouldn't even be public in case a certain "in-law" reads this). So we don't freeze all that much.
    That said- i would take local and plastic freezing over container issues any day :)

  14. Last night I put half a watermellon in a casserole dish with a lid so I could refrigerate it without using plastic wrap.

  15. We use widemouth canning jars and a foodsaver vac. It has an attachment that seals the canning lids.
    As long as you don't bend the lids when you pop them off, they can be reused indefinitely.

  16. We have converted to all glass and our baggies are re-used and once they go bad and run out, we won't be using them anymore. I have the coolest sandwich wrapper thingies for the kid's lunches too.

  17. Yay! When B & I moved in here, I was ready to never buy Ziploc bags again. It was kinda hard at first, but not anymore. I don't even miss them. Unfortunately, I ALWAYS seem to acquire them through other people. It seems so many people store food in bags, and when I am the object of their generosity with extra always comes in a bag. Oh well.

    @Rachel, that's too funny. My cousin, who lives in Scotland, always buys 10 boxes of Ziplocs from the dollar store when she visits us, cuz she can't afford them over there!

  18. Very informative post and comments. I have wondered about using produce bags at stores like Sobeys or Superstore. Sometimes I don't use bags, but if I'm buying a lot of something in bulk I need a bag. Are those ok at the cash? I like the idea of only shopping at the farmer's market, or using HGOF, but I still end up buying produce at the grocery store.

  19. @Rachel and A Green Spell: really?? it's super expensive? I wonder how come?

    @Melly: yep you can totally use bulk reusable bags and produce mesh cotton bags at sobeys and superstore (I haven't tried bulk barn, but probably there too).
    The bags do add a few pennies with the weight, and what you could do is remove produce from them while weighing.

    be prepared for some funny looks from the cashiers, but otherwise it's totally fine :)

  20. oh! and for Canadians- Credo mesh and solid bags are made in Canada, available online- and you can get them made with certified organic cotton... which is cool.

    mine are actually 'Lioli pog-sacs' which I adore- another canadian company :)

    or you could be like my friend Jen and make your own!

  21. Here's what I use (and adore) instead of ziploc's:

  22. "I really really heart my mesh and solid cotton produce bags and actually keep my lettuce etc in them in the fridge."

    I didn't mean that I use produce bags for food storage - just for whatever is in the refrigerator. I am really amazed that you can keep lettuce in those cotton bags. In my experience, within hours, foods like that wilt if I use cotton or mesh bags. Yes, plastic can encourage decomposition, but only if there's a ton of water in the bag. If not, it retains natural moisture in foods like lettuce and kale, while cotton bags, it seems, draw out that moisture and leave the produce wilted. That's why I struggle with dependence on plastic bags. :( I hate them so much, but I live in a rural area and sometimes can't shop more than once a week, so I have to keep those foods fresh for a long time.

  23. I've been reusing the same plastic stackable storage containers for years......but since we can't recycle glass here I've been keeping a lot of perfect sized glass jars just in case I'm able to can/jam......which hasn't happened yet (not gonna lie) but you just made me realize I could totally use those containers to take left overs to work. DUH! :) Haha. I too reuse ziplocs over and over--something I picked up from Granny. But I also will wrap sandwiches in cloth napkins to take to work....washable and simple.

  24. Cool thanks! Can't wait to get some mesh bags.

  25. I feel your pain! My partner and I embarked on the mission to go plastic and packaging free about six months ago - it's quite the journey and creativity reigns supreme!

    We even made a video blog entry to show people how bringing your own jars to the co-op or bulk food store isn't THAT awkward! (

  26. that's the one thing I hate about the anchor containers is that the lids don't last well:( It looks like they have redesigned the lids, the newer ones at Canadian tire have different lids. I agree about the heaviness of carrying glass containers. I even find the metal ones heavy too. I have a few rigid plastic containers for carrying with me, I simply can't carry glass or metal for my daughter and myself. I am already carrying utensils and travel mugs and napkins etc.


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