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Tired of using plastic bags when shopping? Want good alternatives that consider cost, convenience, and the environment? Sick of seeing plastic pollution in the ocean? We found the best plastic alternatives out there to help you reduce your plastic waste and green your life!
Most people know that plastic bags are terrible for the environment, yet we continue to use them while wasting energy and resources. Plastic bags are made from non-renewable crude oil, and while they can be recycled, 96% of plastic bags are sent to the landfill where it will take them up to 1,000 years to decompose.
Plastic bags never break down completely. Instead, they photo-degrade and become microplastics that leach toxins into the environment.
Like all plastics, these bags are also full of chemicals that can cause severe health outcomes including cancers, endocrine disruption, birth defects, reduced immunity, developmental and reproductive problems, and much more. Burning plastic bags releases these chemicals into our air and environment.
Despite their widespread use, plastic bags are actually completely unnecessary with sustainable and eco-friendly alternatives. Learn how you can reduce or eliminate plastic bag use with these 12 Best Sustainable Alternatives to Plastic Bags that are actually just as convenient to use!
For more ways to green your home and lifestyle, check out the following:
Are Paper Bags a Good Alternative?
No, not really. While many stores are making the switch to paper bags in an effort to reduce plastic consumption, paper bags really aren’t that much better for the environment. While they’re made from a renewable source (trees) and are biodegradable, compostable, and recyclable, it takes much more energy to make paper bags versus plastic bags.
According to a 2009 study, manufacturing paper bags uses almost 4 times more energy and 20 times more water than plastic bags, and paper bags take more energy to recycle, too.
Bottom Line: Neither choice is really good for the environment.
What About Bio-Degradable Bags?
Bio-degradable bags seem like the perfect alternative, but they’re actually a mixed…bag. The temperatures in landfills aren’t high enough for bio-degradable bags to decompose. This means that those so-called “eco-friendly” bags will take just as long as regular plastic bags to break down.
What About Recycling?
Recycling is certainly better than sending your plastic bags to the landfill, but it still takes energy and resources to recycle. Reusable alternatives are the better choice for the environment.
Sustainable Alternatives to Plastic Bags – That Are Just As Convenient
BRING YOUR OWN SHOPPING BAGS
One of the easiest ways to cut your plastic use is to carry your own shopping bags, and BagPodz makes it even easier! BagPodz is a set of 5 bags that comes with its own small carrying case and won’t take up much room in your purse.
PRO TIP: Use a cardboard box in a pinch. If you forget to bring your own reusable bags, see if your grocery has any cardboard boxes they could give you. They are a little more eco-friendly than paper bags, since they can typically be reused longer.
BEST STORAGE BAG ALTERNATIVE
These zipper sandwich and snack storage bags are much easier to use than traditional zipper-top storage bags and can be hand washed, machine washed, or popped in the top rack of the dishwasher! Also, be sure to check out their waterproof bags for storing wet items.
BEST PLASTIC WRAP ALTERNATIVE
Wrap a sandwich, cheese, half of a lemon, a crusty loaf of bread, or cover a bowl with Bee’s Wrap, an eco-friendly, reusable, beeswax food wrap that can last up to a year. Learn how to make your own Bee’s Wrap here.
REUSABLE PRODUCE BAGS
Carry your own reusable produce bags to the grocery store and farmer’s markets, so you won’t have to use disposable plastic bags.
KEEP TALL ITEMS IN PLACE
This reusable canvas bag with individual storage compartments is a life-saver when transporting tall objects like bottles and produce such as romaine lettuce and celery!
MOST LIKE ZIPPER-TOP BAGS
This 3-piece set of reusable, stand-up, leakproof zipper-top bags is most like conventional plastic zipper-lock storage bags. Made of FDA-grade PEVA material, you can easily hand wash these bags again and again (they may melt in the dishwasher). These bags are great for on-the-go snacking, but you may want to avoid storage saucy foods in these bags, since they’re prone to staining.
USE STORAGE CONTAINERS
Glass storage containers are best, since they can go from fridge to microwave without leaching plastic chemicals into your food!
AND DRY FOOD CONTAINERS, TOO
MOST VERSATILE STORAGE
Mason jars are super versatile. You can use them as drinkware, for packing lunches (great for salads!), and to store food and other items all over your home!
For more mason jar storage inspiration, check out 15 Creative Mason Jar Storage Ideas.
DRINK LOOSE LEAF TEA
Most tea bags are made with plastic. Buy loose leaf tea, and brew it in a reusable metal filter. Then compost your tea leaves to create even less waste.
MAKE LUNCHTIME ECO-FRIENDLY
TRASH BAG ALTERNATIVES
The only surefire way to be truly eco-friendly about trash bags is to create less trash, so you don’t need as many! To do that, here are some tips to reduce your waste:
- Compost food waste. Keep a small compost bin in your kitchen to collect food waste, then transfer it to your compost pile or bin outside. Bonus: You’ll have free, all natural fertilizer for your garden!
- Buy package-free food like produce from farmer’s markets.
- Use sustainable alternatives to plastic bags – like the ones on this list!
- Try cloth diapers for baby, and eco-friendly period products, too! Find out more about these here.
For more ways to reduce waste in your home, check out 50 Easy Ways to Reduce Waste Every Day.
If your local disposal company will collect loose garbage, consider reusable trash bags. They’re available in various sizes to use throughout your home, and you can buy them once and reuse them again and again! Simply gather all your trash in your reusable garbage bag. Once it gets full, transfer your garbage to a large bin outside.
If you can’t live without plastic garbage bags, try recycled bags. While not quite as good as completely plastic-free, it’s a much better choice than brand new plastic bags.
Reducing or eliminating your dependence on plastic bags with these Easy and Sustainable Alternatives is the easiest way to reduce waste and go green!
What do you think of these Sustainable Alternatives to Plastic Bags? Do you think you’ll give any of these ideas a try? Share your thoughts in the comments below!