SustainabilIty Scoop

Bag Your Single-Use Habit

November 30, 2022

Single-use plastics are having a devastating impact on our environment. There is nowhere left on earth where their impact isn’t evident. You find bottles washed up on beaches, bags floating in our oceans, and straws and wrappers littering the ground. These inexpensive products are designed to be single-use, easy to use for the consumer, and ongoing sale products for the companies that produce them. Before the pandemic, an Environmental Protection Agency study reported the US threw away about 4.2 million tons of plastic shopping and food storage bags, sacks, and wraps. That averages to nearly 26 pounds per person. The type of plastic used in bags and food wraps made up more than two-thirds of that plastic waste. Even with better effort and education about reusing and recycling, not all plastics are safe to be reused or recycled.

In the past, plastics have been harder to wean off from. With better environmental awareness and great substitutes, now is the time to say goodbye to single-use plastics. Here’s how:

Reusable Zip Seal Bags

These bags, often made of food-grade silicone, are a great alternative for packing snacks. Most are dishwasher and freezer safe and will last for years. One of these bags could eliminate potentially thousands of single-use zip-seal bags from landfills.

Example: (re)Zip Stand-up Bag


Reusable Food Bags

Everyone uses reusable shopping bags while at the grocery store, but now there are great alternatives to plastic produce bags. These inexpensive bags are machine washable and come in mesh or moisture lock types.

Example: Mighty Nest Reusable Produce Bags


Fabric Sandwich Bags

These adjustable bags are great for packing a sandwich, snacks, or just about anything else. Machine washable, one manufacturer claims they replace 1850 single-use bags.

Example: Chicobag Snack Time


Bamboo Utensils

If reusable utensils are not possible, use utensils made from bamboo instead of plastic. Bamboo is a sustainable wood product that is 100% biodegradable. They are often stronger than plastic and don’t affect the taste of your food. Many of these products can be safely washed and reused.

Example: Ibambo Bamboo Utensils


Reusable Straws

Straws might be the most littered plastic on the planet. A study from Science Advances reported over 8 billion straws are littering our oceans and waterways. Since they are used for convenience, most are not disposed of properly. There is much better awareness about straws after Starbucks and other chains announced they would stop providing plastic straws. Many alternatives are available, from disposable bamboo and sugar cane straws to reusable glass and stainless steel.  

Example: Simply Straws Stainless Steel Straw


Use Aluminum

If you need to use single-use items, make sure it’s aluminum. Aluminum is 100% recyclable and can be reused indefinitely. Almost everyone accepts aluminum, and recycling bins are common in public areas. Reach for a beverage in an aluminum can or wrap your food in aluminum foil; remember to recycle it when you are done.