8 Single-Use Food Related Items to Replace
Since I spend a lot of time in the kitchen and grocery store, I find it important that I try to cut down on my food-related waste as much as I possibly can. Why use something once when I can use something for life? Not only do reusable items help you cut down on your personal waste, but they can also help you save money in the long-term!
I own a replacement for all items mentioned in this post, and I would not recommend products I wouldn't purchase myself. If I ever mention a product I haven't used or purchased, I will make this fact obvious. So without further ado, here are some things you might want to think about replacing with reusable options!
Updated: June 2018
Straws have a massive negative impact on the environment. They are given out with almost every drink that is served in a restaurant and many people just don't feel comfortable drinking from a glass without them.
When I'm at a restaurant I try to make a habit of refusing the straw because I don't need one to drink my drink! According to Eco Cycle, 500 million single-use plastic straws are used every day in the United States. This is enough straws to fill 127 school buses every. single. day.
I do understand that many people don't feel comfortable or can't drink without a straw, thus reusable straws! I use stainless steel straws at home, and I will sometimes even bring them with me in my bag to use while I'm out. Not only do you get to enjoy drinking your drink out of a straw, but if people ask you questions you also have the opportunity to let others know why you choose to cut plastic straws from your daily life.
I use stainless steel straws, but there are also glass, bamboo, and paper straws available for purchase!
2. Grocery Bags + 3. Produce Bags
As someone who lives in Austin and/or shops at whole foods on occasion, having reusable bags does save you money. For every reusable bag you use at whole foods you get $0.10 off your purchase, and you have to pay to purchase bags at grocery stores in Austin.
While I'd love to have simple, chic reusable cloth or cotton bags, I currently have a couple of bags from Trader Joe's that the cashier gave to me my first time getting reusable bags! But I do plan on investing in cotton grocery bags in the near future.
I think most people know about the importance of reusable grocery bags, but fewer people realize that the bags they put their produce in are actually harmful too!
I got my produce bags from BagMeFrankfurt which is a shop on Etsy. The exact design I got is no longer for sale, but they have a ton of great products and I'm looking into getting this set soon.The bags I got from her the first time took a bit of time to arrive, but they are so cute and durable and I love them!
This one may be a bit more unconventional, but I really like eating take out or homemade sushi and stir-fries with chopsticks. It just makes eating so much more fun I think! So instead of using the disposable wooden ones, I use silicone chopsticks, which I find to be easy to use and they are dishwasher safe.
Hopefully they can also help you say no to single use chopsticks! Plus I suspect they would make a homemade sushi night with friends much more fun and festive!
5. Plastic or Paper Lunch Bags
Long gone are my days of bringing my lunch to class in plastic or paper bags. Now I pack my lunches in compartmentalized glass containers, but if glass is not your style there are several bento boxes on the market that you could look into if you wanted something a bit different. I really like Monbento because their products are stylish, have a nice feel, and are microwave and dishwasher safe.
As I will be spending a lot of time in the coming months out of my apartment and on campus, I will need to have a cost-effective and eco-friendly way to bring my lunch (and snacks!) with me to class.
Packing your lunch can save you so much money as you avoid the costs of convenience foods and their packaging. The disparities in cost between pre-packaged goods and their homemade counterparts is INSANE. Do yourself and the earth a favor and pack a sustainable lunch!
6. Parchment Paper
As someone who often roasts vegetables and bakes cookies I have found these reusable silicone baking mats to be a worthwhile investment. While I haven't completely eliminated parchment paper from my kitchen (I still line loaf pans), these mats definitely help me to reduce the amount of parchment paper I do end up using.
If you just greased your pans instead of lining them, you could cut out parchment paper completely, but I like to limit the amount of oils I consume, so baking mats are a great alternative! I use the amazon basics silicone mats, but I've also heard great things about Silpat.
7. Coffee Cup (cold drinks)
While there are reusable options available for hot drinks as well, I want to focus on cold drinks because you probably already have a container in your house you could use! Whenever I want a cold coffee drink or smoothie or whatever, I use a pint-sized (16 oz.) mason jar. At Starbucks this corresponds to a grande, but I usually order a tall so the drink has a bit of room to breath.
Not only have I been complimented multiple times on my mason jar when I bring it in, but it's also helps to cut down on the number of plastic cups being used once and then thrown in the trash or down-cycled. If you don't have mason jars already, they are super cheap to purchase, or you may even be able to snag one from a friend! Being eco-friendly shouldn't have to be expensive.
And if you haven't already--also look into getting a replacement for hot drinks as well. Keep Cup is pretty popular, but I have not used one myself. I would not recommend a mason jar for hot drinks.
The drink top lid is from EcoJarz.
8. Water Bottles
This is definitely one of the more well-known reusable items, but just in case you don't already have one, get a reusable water bottle! Preferably one made of mostly non-plastic.
I use a healthy human bottle because it holds a large amount of liquid and it's insulation is AMAZING. It truly does keep your drink the ideal temperature for quite a long time so I would highly recommend it. The one I have in the 32-ounce bottle in black.
There are totally other options though if you don't quite like the design of this bottle. I will say, the size I have doesn't fit into the cup holders in my car, but other than that I've really been loving it.
Over 50 billion water bottles are purchased each year and around 80% of those end up in landfills. And while recycling does help, when plastic bottles are recycled they are really down-cycled. Meaning that it becomes a lower grade of plastic than it previously was. Materials like glass and stainless steel when recycled maintain their value and are not degraded. This is why it's important not just to recycle, but to actively reduce plastic consumption.
That's it for now! I hope this list gave you a bit of inspiration. Follow me @sippingonsoy on instagram for more lifestyle content!