First, a little history of the zip lock plastic bag: In 1961, a Japanese company invented a minigrip-type plastic zipper bag. In 1964, Dow Chemical purchased the exclusive license to manufacture and sell these bags for the grocery trade. Then Dow developed a high speed and efficient process making this type of plastic bag more accessible and cheaper to produce. In 1968, Dow released the zip lock bag for public consumption, and at first it was not successful. Believe it or not, people didn’t know how to open the bags. But by the early 1970s, its popularity took off. We now have several companies making these types of plastic bags, and we are all familiar with them. It is a common household item.

So common in fact, that today we use approximately 5 trillion bags a year worldwide.  In the U.S. alone, we use about 100 billion zip lock bags a year. That’s almost one bag per person, per day. WOW! For a visual, if we laid these bags bag-to-bag it would circle the world over 1,300 times each year.

How do we manage without them? How do you store food in the freezer and refrigerator? Let me assure you, we can do it in an economical as well as environmentally friendly way!

One of the best storage containers we can use is a glass jar. Plain old glass jars that our pickles, tomato sauce, and jams come in. Don’t even need to go out and buy Mason jars, unless you want to do canning or like the look.

Glass jars not only can be used to store food in the refrigerator but can safely be used in the freezer. The only thing you need to do is remember to completely cool your food before you freeze in glass and to leave a space at the top of the jar for expansion. I have safely frozen sauces, soups, cubes of pesto, vegetables for making broth, liquids, and solid food in glass jars and have never had a glass jar explode or crack. They are the perfect reusable item.

Want to marinate something? How about leaving the item in a bowl and either put a plate over it (the cheapest way), or use your beeswax wrap, or a silicone cover? These covers come in a variety of sizes and stretch to hold a great seal. These silicone toppers are completely washable and reusable and last for years.

There are many different sizes and shapes of glass containers you can buy, and I have a selection of them. They can be used for refrigeration of food as well as used for freezing items. Just cool and leave a little space.

I often hear that trying to move toward Plastic Free is expensive. What could be more affordable than reusing a jar you already have or using the old plate over bowl method?

Hope you will give it a try.

-Helene Shore