Reduce, reuse and recycle (Part Six)

Three or four years ago, I was visiting my parents at their home in Ohio. I went for a walk through the back alleys that cut between the rural town’s houses and gave access to backyards and detached garages. And there I beheld a sight that I am convinced could only be seen in Ohio: freshly laundered and hanging on the clothesline to dry were about a dozen zip-lock sandwich bags.

Even my own mother, frugal diva that she is, doesn’t do that! First off, my mom doesn’t buy the zip-lock bags because they cost too much. She buys the generic brand fold-over sandwich bags. Sometimes she buys gallon size freezer bags that are zip-lock (generic brand always), and she might re-use a bag that held a dry food like bread for the same item. But I’ve never seen her wash and dry ziplock bags. That is true dedication to the reduce and reuse mantra!

I do buy ziplock sandwich bags, but they are not often used for sandwiches. My kids don’t pack a daily lunch for school, and when we as a family pack a lunch for a day trip, I tend to use snap-lid reusable containers. So, this month I looked at exactly what I did with those sandwich bags.

The number one use I made for them was to store half an onion or half a tomato that was leftover after I made a salad or some other recipe. Easy enough to eliminate that usage, I have switched to using a snap-lid container for that need.

The second most common use for the sandwich bags was an on-the-go snack holder for the littler children. Snap-lids are not as effective, since Petey can’t open them and if he could, like Jenny, the spilled and wasted Cheerios or whatever would completely negate any benefit to using a container in the first place. The foldover bags won’t keep Cheerios from going stale and aren’t as easy to manipulate (for a baby). I’ll keep using these bags for that purpose, but I’ll be a bit more judicious in when it’s necessary.

And the third biggest use for ziplock sandwich bags? As storage for game pieces: Pop-Up Pirate daggers, Chutes and Ladders playing pieces, Sorry men and the deck of cards. Fortunately, one bag lasts a long time for this use.

This line of thinking extends to other disposable kitchen storage things like plastic wrap and aluminum foil. I’ve read in several places that using clear plastic wrap is the best way to store food in the fridge so that you can easily see what you have and use it before it gets old. But if you’re storing food for a family of seven, this suggestion is completely impractical because plastic wrap renders most containers unstackable and every blessed corner of my fridge is usually filled. Snap-lid containers work much better and you can see well enough into them to distinguish leftover stew from leftover chicken.

Aluminum foil, though…aluminum foil is sturdy and washable too. Perhaps I’ll get a clothesline and hang my washed foil out to dry…

6 thoughts on “Reduce, reuse and recycle (Part Six)

  1. I won’t wash foil, but I do keep and wash freezer ziplocks that held bread products, or partial bags of frozen vegetables–nothing that held uncooked meat gets saved.

    As far as sandwich bags go, my biggest “waste” of these is with bagels, when I buy & freeze a dozen at a time for easy breakfasts/packed lunches. I’ll have to rethink how I do that.

  2. I’m keeping the wax paper that I use to segregate the homemade dinner roll dough. That’s pretty cheap, if you ask me.

    Doesn’t Glad or Ziplock make a cheap snaplid reusable container that’s the right size for bagels? And they’re not too expensive if the kids accidentally throw it away…

  3. Wonderful ideas and thoughts. We could all use to think about things like you are. Think and evaluate.

  4. I recycle our foil, and try to use the reusable containers as much as possible.

    My youngest son, though, prefers the baggies, I reluctantly let him use them sometimes.

  5. My grandfather actually made a ziplock dryer, if you can believe it. We all got one for Christmas one year and every member of my family was delighted…except me. I thought they were all nuts!

    This thing looked like a wooden porcupine with a big ball of a base with spines sticking up all over to hold the bags upside down. My grandmother was so proud of him. My mother and aunt still have theirs in use, right next to the sink for ease of use.

    For me, clutter is a bigger problem than just about anything, so I resist the urge to keep things I “might” or “could possibly” use again. I probably waste a lot in what I throw out simply to get it out of my house. But what is saves me in sanity is worth it.

    I commend all of you who can successfully reuse and manage your stock!

  6. Suzanne,

    that is the funniest thing I’ve read all day (ok, it’s not yet 6 am, but still…).

    Yeah, I don;t know what I’d do with a sandich bag drier. Clever, though!

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