Food Safety Plastic and Strawberries

Published on February 7th, 2011 | by Heather Carr

7

Plastic-Free February, Day 1

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Rodale.com is going plastic-free this February and they’ve invited the rest of us to join them.

I’m a little late to the game, since it’s the seventh day of February and it’s only my first day of attempting to go plastic-free. Still, with twenty-one days left in the month, I can make quite a bit of headway in reducing the plastic in my life.

Rodale has set up three ground rules for going plastic-free:

  1. No buying or acquiring new plastic.
  2. No cooking with plastic or storing food in plastic.
  3. Minimize all other plastic use.

Just three little rules.  How hard can this be?

No Buying or Acquiring New Plastic

My first thought was that it would be easy to follow rule number one. It would save me money, too, if I buy less stuff.

But then I got to thinking, nearly all food comes in some form of plastic. A bag of carrots, granola bars, maple syrup – they all come in some form of plastic. Other foods, like fresh produce, don’t have to come in plastic, but the checker gives me a dirty look if I try to skip the produce baggies.

Even at the farmers market, they use those plastic shopping bags. They’re reused and the farmers are always happy to take back my used ones or fill the ones I’ve brought with me, but they’re still plastic.

The winter storm has kept those of us in North Texas stuck inside for most of the last week, so I need to go grocery shopping soon. I’ll have to keep reminding myself to look out for packaging while I’m there.

No Cooking with Plastic or Storing Food in Plastic

The first half of the second rule will be easy for me. I use the microwave rarely, mostly just for reheating leftovers or for microwave popcorn. There’s something very satisfying about standing over a pot and stirring a stew or sauteing in a skillet.

The second half of the second rule – no storing food in plastic – will be difficult for me. I have oodles of those Ziploc single serving leftover containers. The blue lid screws on tightly and keeps the leftovers fresh. The plastic lasts forever, which is both good and bad, of course. Good because I rarely need new ones. Bad because it will stay around the environment long after it’s lost its usefulness as a food storage container.

Minimize All Other Plastic Use

I’ll have to assess the ways in which I use other plastics. I’ve been aware for a while of the problems of plastic and food, especially combined with heat, so I’ve already reduced that quite a bit in my life (except for the aforementioned storage containers.)

Other plastics are a bit trickier. I’ve worked on reducing packaging, but I haven’t really thought about eliminating plastic. I read through the posts by Rodale.com’s plastic-free bloggers Dana Blinder and Emily Main. They’ve listed an impressive assortment of plastics in their bathrooms, bedrooms, kitchens, workplaces, and cars. I’m sure I’ve got a similar amount of plastics in my life.

How You Can Go Plastic-Free in February

Everyone is welcome to join Rodale.com’s efforts to reduce plastic use. I’ll be blogging every day or so about my struggles going plastic-free. Comment here or on Rodale’s plastic-free blog or follow on Twitter with the hashtag #noplastic.

Have you tried to eliminate plastic from your life? Have any tips for the rest of us?

Image by tuchodi, used with Creative Commons license.

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About the Author

Heather Carr loves food, politics, and innovative ways to make the world a better place. She counts Jacques Pepin and Speed Racer among her inspirations. You can find her on Facebook or .



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  • http://community.importantmedia.org/beckyanne/ Becky Striepe

    I just did a mental inventory of my kitchen, and I think storing food would be hardest for me! We’ve got a good amount of jars, but for larger amounts of leftovers I normally use big tupperware containers. Even our glass bowls have plastic lids.

  • http://Web Misha

    I was going to suggest aluminum foil to store food, but that can end up being just as wasteful as using plastic. Just like Becky, all of my glass containers for storage have plastic lids. Are there any containers out there that don’t have any plastic parts?

  • http://vegetablehusband.com Margie

    This is something we struggle with each week as we sort veggies from the farms. Delicate greens such as tender lettuces have to be stored in a bag and paper bags will not keep them fresh. Some folks return the bags for reuse or use them in their homes for a 2nd and 3rd life but I would love other suggestions. Some of the farmers but items in the plastic containers too. At least we all recycle these containers back to the farms. In that way, a hard plastic clamshell is better to use than a plastic produce bag. Is there anything Vegetable Husband can do this month to make an effort to support No Plastic February efforts?

  • http://rodale.com Dana @ Rodale.com

    Hey Heather-

    So glad to have you participating in the challenge! This is great stuff. Kudos to any other readers looking to get on board too. Keep up the good work!

    - Dana from Rodale.com

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