If you’re currently transitioning or interested in transitioning away from plastic food containers, don’t toss your old plastic versions in the trash just yet! Your healthy choice to transition away from plastic food containers doesn’t mean your old containers are destined to become landfill waste. There are so many ways you can safely repurpose plastic containers in the home, keep reading for 10 useful ideas to consider.
Why Should I Stop Using Plastic Food Storage Containers?
In recent years, there has been a lot of controversial conversation around whether or not the trace amounts of chemicals that can leach into food from their plastic containers are considered “safe” for human consumption. According to WebMD, “Although most of the chemicals making the culinary crossing are considered “safe,” Jacob tells WebMD that’s generally not because they’ve been proved safe, but rather they haven’t been proven to be unsafe.”
The way I see it is why even take the risk? There are so many other valuable ways to repurpose plastic containers in the home, make the investment in your family’s health and upgrade to glass and stainless steel food storage containers instead!
While the health benefits of replacing plastic with glass are still being explored, there are also environmental concerns when it comes to disposing of plastic food storage (or any plastic packaging for that matter).
In most mass market grocery stores today I’m not sure I would be able to tell you where to find plastic alternatives – but that wasn’t always the case. The EPA estimates that from 1960 to 2015 there was over an 8000% increase in annual plastic production – 390 tons in 1960 to 34,500 tons in 2015. What?! Additionally, the EPA estimated that in 2015, 75% of all plastic produced (26,010 TONS) went straight to landfills.
How to Repurpose Plastic Containers
I’ve seen enough Pinterest images that boast creative ways to upcycle plastic containers into cheap flower pots or other homey crafts to make my eyes bleed. You don’t have to be crafty or creative to make practical use out of plastic containers! Here are 10 ways that you can reuse your plastic containers at home.
1. Office Supplies
Corral small office supplies like push pins, paperclips, staples, sticky notes, tape dispensers, batteries and more. Store them in appropriate sized plastic containers in drawers in your desk or cabinets in your home office to keep these small items nicely organized and easily accessible!
2. Craft, Sewing, or Gift Wrap Supplies
This could be anything creativity-related like small vials of paint, beads, buttons, ribbons, thread, crayons, bows, gift tags, or rubber bands. Collect like with like and place in plastic containers for storage.
3. Small Tools
Items like nails, screws, washers, and even batteries need to be separated by size and stored accordingly. Plastic storage containers are a simple solution.
4. Junk Drawer
I am anti-junk drawers, but if you have one sneak up on you then repurposed plastic containers can help! Separate random items into categories – some you might want to move into your craft and office containers but the rest (leftover condiment packets, toothpicks, rubber bands, etc.) can be separated into small containers and stored accordingly.
5. First Aid Kit
After listening to NPR’s The Big One I am now convinced that I need a proper first aid kit not only at home, but also in both mine and my husband’s cars, and in our desk drawers at work. Medium to large food storage containers are a perfect size to corral all necessary items. Here is what the Red Cross recommends you include in your first aid kits.
6. Bathroom and Vanity Items
Collect and store hair accessories (bobby pins, hair ties, hair clips), small jewelry (earrings, rings, bracelets), or bathroom items (extra floss containers, travel sized products, q-tips, cotton rounds) in dedicated plastic containers stacked in your bathroom cabinets and drawers.
7. Small Toys
Plastic storage containers are the perfect way to contain small toys like legos, duplos, small cars, doll accessories, and more. My 14 month old is all about sorting and pouring his smaller toys from one container to another. Bonus use case – turn the containers upside down and give your little one a wooden spoon and let them go to town. The container becomes the toy…
8. Cards or Other Small Mementos
I’m not hugely sentimental when it comes to hanging on to old cards (or anything else, for that matter), but every now and then I’ll receive a thoughtfully written note and decide to file it away. My husband and I each have our own small collection of sweet cards and notes from each other and loved ones.
My parents recently helped us build raised garden beds in our backyard and as we are growing veggies and learning more about gardening, our interest in starting new plants from seeds has been increasing! Smaller plastic containers are a great place to start a handful of seeds that can eventually transfer to a garden or a planter.
10. Compost or Stock
Keep larger containers in the freezer to store fruit and veggie peels, pits, and stems. Once the containers are full, you can throw veggies into a pot to create an easy homemade stock or toss everything into a compost bin.
Best Alternatives to Plastic Tupperware
Now that you are set on transitioning away from plastic food storage and you are equipped with a handful of ways to get repurpose plastic containers — let’s talk about the best alternatives. These are my top 4 recommended plastic-free food storage products:
- Le Parfait Jars: These jars are perfect for storing bulk grains, seeds, fresh picked herbs, salad dressings, soaked nuts and leftover frozen soups (they are our food storage option of choice as you can see in our minimalist kitchen reveal). My husband even brings a few to the grocery store with him so he can ask the folks at the meat and cheese counters to weigh food in the jars instead of in unnecessary packaging! And to top it off, they’re very cute to display on any pantry, fridge, or freezer shelf.
- Glass Food Containers: If you want glass food storage that still resembles the shape of your old Tupperware, these are for you!
- Stainless Steel Food Containers: These are great for packing snacks and lunches as they are much lighter to carry than their glass counterparts. The only potential drawback to stainless steel is that it is not microwave-friendly!
- Reusable Sandwich Bags: Eliminate plastic wrap and plastic baggies from your kitchen and replace with eco-friendly, reusable alternatives.
- Beeswax Wraps: There is no need to purchase plastic wrap because beeswax wrap will form a naturally soft but equally protective film against your food. You can use them to wrap avocado halves, muffins, slices and uncovered bowls of food. And even better? They will naturally biodegrade over time – no landfill concerns here!