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Frugal Foodie: Reduce, Reuse & Recycle

Growing up, my folks taught me to buy only what we needed, to reuse whenever possible, and to recycle everything. As a result, I am highly conscious about both material and financial waste.

I recently purchased a box of quart-sized Ziploc freezer bags to store homemade beans and realized it had been eight years since my last purchase of any kind of plastic container. I was surprised by the cost –  a whopping $4.19 for only 19 bags! If I used four bags daily and threw away each one after every use, I’d spend $26 dollars per month.

In celebration of Earth Day, I invite you to prioritize reducing consumption of plastics. Calculate how much money you spend every month on storage containers. Notice how many plastic products you purchase, count your recyclables, and consider how you can shift your purchasing habits and kitchen storage. Together our behaviors make a difference for our shared planet.

REDUCE – I avoid plastic packaging by purchasing whole, unpackaged foods versus prepared, and I even purchase nut butters, beverages and other “prepared” goods in glass, whenever possible.

REUSE – I save plastic produce bags, bread bags, and any leftover at potlucks and reuse them for produce and bulk food at the grocery store. At home, I reuse bags to store greens (wrapped in a damp towel), cover food (in lieu of Saran wrap) and, when a bag is past its prime, I use it to line small trash bins.

Here are the steps I take after utilizing plastic:

  1. Store bags and containers near kitchen sink.
  2. Wash all at once with soapy dish water.
  3. Hang wet bags hang inside out over wooden spoons, knives and cheese graters, creating a pop-art masterpiece in your drying rack.
  4. Stack dried bags by size and stored in a special drawer, alongside folded paper sacks, tin foil and parchment paper.

RECYCLE – Eventually, after countless uses, I concede to recycling a plastic bag or container. Recycling is my last resort, not the go-to. How many bags and containers do you “recycle” every week? Every month? What if you reuse them, instead?

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