Waste Free Food Storage

If you’re interested in learning about different kinds of waste free food storage, you are in the right place! Plus, we have upcoming green giveaways including a Planet Wise Snack Bag from Bring Your Own LLC and Beeswax Wrap from Dual Accord.

Jars

Here, I am specifically talking about mason jars with uniform mouths. Reusing mayo or other jars is a very admirable thing. I save glass bottles from liquor or vitamins and reuse them for little odds and ends. But for food storage, I stick to mason jars.

If you find buy jars at a secondhand shop without lids. I say grab them. Firstly, glass is easy to sanitize. They can go in the dishwasher and can withstand heat. Secondly, the lids come in two uniform sizes of ‘regular mouth’ or ‘large mouth’. This you can keep the rings and lids stacked and not worry about playing a matching game.

Mason jars are microwave, oven, Sous vide, and freezer safe. They fit in car cup holders and stack very well in the pantry. I also happen to think they’re pretty. In the pantry they are easy to see through. They’re a standard weight so shopping waste free with them is a breeze.

You might think that glass means breakable. But I’ve had many a jar fall of the counter and stay intact.

Update: Since writing this post, I have learned that the plastic tops to parmesan cheese and possibly the single serve blender tops fit the threads of mason jars. This would add to the ways you can functionally use them. I will have to try it.

Added bonus: Mason jars double as drinking glasses.

Silicone Bags

Just like jars, silicone can go in the oven, freezer, dishwasher, Sous vide and microwave. The plus to silicone is it’s easy to remove the air. Silicone only needs to take up the space of what is inside unlike containers with more structure that take up the size of the vessel.

Silicone in the dishwasher is delightful but you have to remember to stand them up in a way that the water gets inside. Thinking of it now, I should try to wash them inside out. Hmmmm.

One tip about silicone is to match the bag color to the contents. I thought this was just a visually appealing thing but it’s actually to prevent a clear bag from picking up the color of red pasta sauce.

Added bonus: Silicone bags have a tighter seal than ziplock so you don’t have to worry as much about leaking.

Snack Bags

I have less personal knowledge of these snack bags. But from what I understand, cloth snack bags might be washer/dryer safe depending on the brand. Others might be dishwasher safe. Some cloth bags have a plastic liner and some do not. The liner would retain moisture whereas the just cloth would not.

Unlike silicone, they are not air or water right. Functionally these bags will replace snack bags for items such as pretzels or a sandwich. They’re great for same day consumption because they won’t keep the snack from going stale. They won’t replace ziplock baggies for marinading or other liquid uses.

These snack bags will save money and reduce your waste. Plus, the clever patterns are unique and fun.

Added bonus: The cloth bags come in many patterns which make customizing or identifying really easy! You could have a pattern for each child and know who ate or lost what.

Silicone Covers

I have a silicone lid for mugs which keeps the coffee or tea warm, so I am extrapolating and adding some knowledge from internet research. Silicone is dishwasher, oven, freezer, and microwave safe.

There are two kinds of silicone covers. First, there is suction, for these lids you essentially cover the top of your bowl with the lid by laying it on top. They’re that simple. You can use them to cover microwave spatter. Air could still get pushed out and the lid will vacuum seal back in place.

Silicone lids create an airtight seal. This retains moisture. Suction silicone lids don’t have to be the size of the container, they just have to be at least slightly bigger. Otherwise, you could use a giant lid for a small container and it would work fine.

Second, there are stretch lids. These lids do need to be the size of the container. You might feel more comfortable with these lids because they seem more attached to the bowl. For these lids you stretch it over the rim of the bowl. I have also seen these stretched over a half of a watermelon or other fruit.

For both kinds of lids, the flexibility of silicone makes for easy storage.

Update: Since writing this post, I remembered about the lids I use for cans of cat food. These are functional and would work for human food as well. Can lids like these fit three different sizes of cans which make them really functional.

Added bonus: You can use these lids to cover pots if you misplace the original lid!

Beeswax Wrap

Beeswax wrap is good to use for oddly shaped or large items that don’t need to be kept air tight. Some items we wrap in cling wrap for convenience actually should be wrapped in breathable items. Beeswax wrap is antimicrobial in nature so it will extend the fridge life of some foods. Beeswax wrap can also be used to store items in the freezer for a short time.

Beeswax might not replace cling wrap because it’s not going to be air tight. However, beeswax is easier to mold to a dish. You use the warmth of your hands to make it mailable and once it’s in place the wax helps the cloth keep its shape. The beeswax will help retain some moisture so the food won’t dry out.

Beeswax wrap needs to be hand washed in cold water. Beeswax wrap is not intended to be used with raw meat and it can’t go in the microwave. If you’re worried about smell, I haven’t had an issue with my Beeswrap but the ingredients vary from brand to brand.

Added bonus: Beeswax has the convenience of plastic wrap with the opacity of aluminum foil. You can cover your dish and have a big reveal!

Glass Container

Glass containers like Pyrex have similar benefits to mason jars because they come in uniform sizes. Buying replacement lids for Pyrex is easy if the lids get ripped or lost. Plus, they’re bowls which makes eating out of them easier. The best use for Pyrex is meal prep.

Pyrex bowls are great for saving half an onion or other produce. I love using them as prep bowls because you can pop the lid on and save the rest.  Pyrex bowls are easy to stack and they nest for storage.

The only downside is I always tend to rip the lids after a few months. Pyrex glass is dishwasher, freezer, oven, and microwave safe. Pyrex comes in round and square bowl shapes. I even have some larger ones for lasagna.

Added bonus: Hosting a dinner party and using Pyrex as serving bowls makes clean up really easy! All you have to do is pop lids on the leftovers.

Plastic

Before my waste free journey, I had purchased the systema storage system. These large containers are great for storing flour and other dry goods. They even have a measuring cup in each bin which saves you from having to wash one.

I actually don’t think there is anything wrong with purchasing plastic if you’re going to use it for the foreseeable future. There are some plastics that leach chemicals but I am just talking about for waste purposes. They’re air tight and both lighter and cheaper than their glass counterparts. For food storage, I prefer vessels that clip to seal shut.

Plastic containers can be great for very specific purposes. Using plastic might cut down on food waste because it can help you store food in the proper way. I have specific containers for half cut up peppers or cheese and the fridge life is greatly extended. Plus, when you’re looking in the fridge for your leftover onion, you can look for the onion shaped container;

From the occasional single use container that comes into my life, I will hang onto it and reuse it. Obviously the downside is mismatching lids.

If you have found a green swap that works for you, send it to me at SarahRyan@sincerelyseas.com and I will share it here.

Other tips:

  • Use a plate to cover bowls or saucers to cover open cans. This system might even allow you to stack items on top.
  • Reuse ziplock bags by gently washing them.

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The Last Straw (you’ll ever want)| Reusable Straw Comparison

I have seen some rude people on the internet who just say, straws are only useful if your arms can’t lift glasses. Yes, I am talking to you, Joanne. Some people have disabilities or sensitive teeth, I have a personal preference for straws. I’ve seen you have a personal preference for posting a LOT of photos of chickens.

I like not spilling drinks down my front. I like not having ice bump my teeth. I like protecting my teeth from stains and acid from drinks. So yeah, Joanne, my arms work too. Let’s play nice and let people post their chickens and use their straws without judgement. Plus, we’ve got a lot of reusable choices now so we’re not causing the planet any harm.

For the keychain friendly foldable straw on-the go needs, we have the Final Straw. The Final Straw is also a good width that works for smoothies, milkshakes, and frozen margaritas. Some people have had concerns about cleaning this. I have had absolutely no issues. The packaging includes a squeegee to clean the inside of the silicone.

Plus, you could use a brush when it’s unfolded for the inside and then inside each little ring when it it’s folded if you’re concerned. But seriously, you were trusting bartenders with bins on straws? At least you know where this one has been.

Metal straws will outlast you. They can be washed with boiling water to disinfect. They’re strong and sturdy. The downside to metal straws is they can get hot and cold with the beverage. There are stainless steel straws coming up in Green Giveaways from SoseasUK and EcoFella.

Cleaning Note: Bends in straws do make them a little harder to clean.

Silicone straws are delightful. They are dishwasher safe. They are flexible which means you can get them in a variety of openings. Koffie straw makes them specifically to fit in coffee to go cups to protect your teeth. The best part about silicone straws is you can bend them into the container. I love to do this for smoothies on the go.

For travel, you could fold them up and they’d be less bulky than the Final Straw. I’m not sure how this would be for the longevity of the straw but it’s worth trying.

Silicone straws can also be cut to length. So if you have one that is too long for your normal vessel, you can shorten it! Don’t forget to trim them at an angle so they don’t suction to the container.

On the downside, if your smoothies are too thick, silicone (even for the Final Straw above) can collapse.

Cleaning Note: Silicone straws can be on the difficult side to clean with the brush because they’re bendy. This is doubled for silicone straws with a built in bend. It’s not a deal breaker, but it is something to consider.

Bamboo straws are naturally antimicrobial and compostable. This would be great for an event if you wanted to use straws that were disposable. They’re absolutely reusable but would make a disposable option too. We have bamboo straws included in Green Giveaways from Eco Fella.

Rigid plastic straws seemed to hit the market first so I have a handful. They’re cute and come in a variety of colors. They’re just as easy to clean as metal. I could see for longevity they would be less attractive than steel. These straws can bend and melt and are not dishwasher safe. They also wont breakdown like bamboo.

So, now go stick that in your drink. If that is your choice.

Waste Free Pearly Whites

I solemnly swear to be honest to you. That includes admitting that I don’t know if or when I will be able to give up my sonicare. But when I can, I will switch to bamboo. Now that I have that off my chest, let’s dive in.

Bamboo is naturally antimicrobial.  Bamboo biodegrades. Some bamboo toothbrushes have bristles that break down and some do not. When you decide to purchase bamboo toothbrushes, beware the packaging, if the vendor includes plastic packaging….it has ruined your waste free efforts.

The bristles are a different conversation than the handle. You’ve got a few options, nylon, compostable, and charcoal infused. I learned that ‘fully compostable’ bamboo toothbrushes feature brushes with bristle using pig hair. I’m not going to get on a vegetarian soap box but it is something you should be aware of.

The bamboo toothbrushes from Eco Fella included in Green Giveaways are packaged in cardboard and numbered 1-4 which makes them easy to tell apart. I have also seen some bamboo toothbrushes with painted bottoms or colored bristles. Colorful bamboo toothbrushes enable you to compromise sustainability while keeping the pastels that make you smile.

After you brush, you floss! Well, at least you tell your dentist you do. Single use flossers are the bane of my existence (Sorry Dad). You’re supposed to wind and unwind floss so you’re putting clean parts of the floss in between your teeth.

Plus, I once saw an instagram account that exclusively posts flossers they find littered on the street #Flossgate. Then I found a Boston Globe article discussing the same issue. So let’s just stop it with the flossers. Boo.

Not to depress you, but the floss we’re using isn’t going away. Floss is usually made of nylon which sticks around.

What is the green alternative? Dental floss sometimes called lace made of plastic free silk! Why do I say plastic free? Because some brands slip some plastic in to make it strong which is defeating the purpose of making the switch,

Silk is biodegradable. Plus, you can find it with recyclable plastic or glass packaging. Many brands let you purchase the initial container which has the feeder and cutter and get refills from then on out. Talk about waste free!

Making greener choices with your next dental purchases will give you plenty to smile about.

Giant Box, Tiny Purchase, and other Ecofriendly Shipping Woes.

After using a random number generator to select the first few winners of Green Giveaways, I realized…shoot! How should I ship this stuff? I was inspired by the way the partners had chosen reused, recycled, and recyclable packaging.

I decided to look into what would be the most eco friendly way to ship something. In our society, the pressure is frequently placed on the recipient to take care of recycling. But, if I wanted these to be truly green giveaways, I felt I should make it as simple as possible for the winner to dispose of the packaging.

Here were some of my considerations:

  1. Space

Have you ever gotten a box from an online retailer that is just WAY too big for the one item they placed inside? Yes. We all have. This is bad for a few reasons (including cost to the shipper).

First, think of all the extra material used to ship to you. Extra box space means extra trees.


Second, think of the extra space that item took up in the cargo plane, truck, car, boat. That’s excess fossil fuels burned en route.

If you fit packaging to the item, it is more environmentally friendly and economical.

2.) Material

How recyclable are recyclable packaging materials? Something I have learned recently is that there is a difference between recyclable and ‘you can put this in your recycling bin’.

Plastic provide protection from the elements. However, some plastic packaging is easily recycled and some isn’t. Plus, I can’t control how shipping materials are disposed of once it is dropped in the mailbox.

Paper is easily recyclable. But, it does not provide protection from the elements. There are less options for padding for small items. For larger items. using a box with paper tape is a viable option.

Paper outside with bubble padding is a good option because these envelopes are made from recycled materials. By buying items made from recycled materials we create a market for recyclable waste which incentivizes a circular economy.

3.) Mailing labels

Recyclable plastic bubble packs are generally recyclable if you take the mailing label off…ok? Who is going to be able to get the stamp, mailing label and any tape residue off in order to recycle?

Recyclable water based labels are a thing. Also, handwriting on a paper package also seemed like a viable option.  Would this be environmentally equivalent to permanent marker on the plastic packaging? I’m not sure. It seems like avoiding plastic where possible is the best choice.

So what did I decide?  

For more hearty stuff, I decided on eco mailers without padding. It is essentially cardstock (paper) which should be recyclable or compostable. If I write the address or use a recyclable label, it won’t matter. The recipient will be able to toss the whole thing in the recycling bin.  As far as space is concerned, this was the best way to ship relatively flat items without excess space.

For more fragile stuff…that is yet to be determined.I am leaning towards using spare newspaper to pad the items or wrapping it in canvas tote bags. So those winners might get a bonus gift. Luckily, none of the items thus far are faberge eggs.

If you are interested in being a shipping supplies sponsor for Green Giveaways or have additional questions, write me at SarahRyan@sincerelysailing.com.

100 Days of Sailing | Sincerely Sailing E. 21

Every year, SpinSheet Magazine offers a challenge to the sailors in the Chesapeake Bay to get out sailing 100 times in the calendar year. Here are clips and photos from my 100 days of sailing in 2017. Please keep in mind, some days I sailed more than ones and some days I forgot to take a picture. Spinsheet also counts up to 10 days working on your boat when you can’t leave the dock.

Also, obviously…. in this video…. I am giving away a Mustang Survival HIT PFD with a sailing harness.

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Giveaway Details Video

Giveaway Details