Plastic-Free Food Storage Alternatives

Many people who commented on our Beyond BPA post last week feel that completely eliminating plastic from our lives is a frustrating, unattainable and maybe even unnecessary goal. That may be true, but it doesn't hurt to at least reduce the amount of plastic and disposables that we come in contact with everyday. There are a number of beautiful, stylish alternatives to commonly used plastic items that are worth checking out. See our list below the jump.

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Plastic water bottle alternative:
Try bottles from Klean Kanteen, which are made from lightweight, food-grade stainless steel. If the plastic caps still bother you, try their Reflect line, pictured here, which is made of stainless steel, bamboo and silicone and is completely plastic (and paint) free.

Plastic food storage alternative:
Weck jars are made of glass, metal and rubber. They seal up pretty well and function beautifully in the refrigerator (see photo on top) and pantry as well as on the go. Canning jars with conventional screw on lids are also a nice alternative. The inside of the lid is coated with a thin layer of slightly sticky rubber, not plastic*. Of course glass is heavier than plastic and it breaks, but with care and under certain circumstances, glass alternatives work just as well, if not better, than plastic: there's no leeching, flavor transferring, or discoloration. Plus, they're so pretty, you can just serve up your food straight from its container!

Also, many people are turning to the stainless steel tiffin as a way to carry food. There are any number of choices these days -- even WallMart carries them! Or you could go upscale with this fancy ceramic and wood model.

Plastic baggie alternative:
For dry goods and produce, try Origami Cloth Sacks, featured here several months ago. For sandwich bags, try any number of cloth alternatives now available (Etsy is a good source) but avoid modern 'oil cloth' as it is made with vinyl.

Plastic wrap:
Good old fashioned waxed paper will do in many cases. Also, use plates to cover stuff left in bowls or, inversely, put leftovers on a plate and cover them with a bowl (or another plate.)

Disposable tableware:
This area has been widely addressed and there are numerous alternatives to plastic tableware these days. We've written about the lovely Wasara for plates, bowls and cups, and again, Weck and other canning jars make nice glasses (although not disposable.) We find that its not too much of a burden to bring real silverware to picnics and other situations that one would normally use disposables. Picking up a bunch of miscellaneous cutlery at the thrift store and reserving it for this purpose means that the occasionally tossed or lost piece doesn't hurt the household's stash.

What tricks have you discovered to avoid overuse of plastic in your kitchen? Tell us in the comments!

* Corretion: Many but not all canning jar lids are coated with plastic containing PBA. Here's a very extensive thread on the subject from Eat Close To Home. Note that they are discussing this before the NPR episode stating that most plastics release an estrogen-like chemical was released.

Related: Have Jar, Will Travel: Best Ideas for Meals in a Jar

(Images: Leela Cyd Ross, Klean Kanteen)

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