I do my best to live in a sustainable and environmentally responsible way. These days more people make buying decisions that lessen the negative impact on the environment.
That’s the reason why I started a plastic-free pantry. Filling my kitchen with zero waste food storage options was the next logical step to make my home more eco-friendly.
Now I know from experience that starting this can be a little bit daunting. If you ask anyone whether they would want to make their home greener and more sustainable, most people would answer “yes!”. But most people don’t know where and how to start.
That’s why I’ve put together a list of my favorite zero waste food storage options. These are practical, pretty and most importantly, sustainable solutions to keep your food fresh, and make the world a greener place.
These rounded glass jars are perfect to carry in a lunch bag or to use as storage in your kitchen or fridge. The glass jar is made from borosilicate glass with a bamboo cap. It’s tightly sealed with a silicon ring. The glass is microwave safe If you need to quickly heat the contents.
The seal is not 100 percent waterproof, so be sure to store it upright especially if you’re using it as a container for your packed lunch.
These jars are cute enough to be decorative, and they work well enough to be practical. Sold separately, they come in a medium size 10oz (296ml) and a larger 18oz (532ml) container.
Le Parfait is French for “the perfect,” and these jars are truly the perfect containers for storing preserves, juices or dry goods. I loved the fact that they come in four different sizes. There’s the 3 oz, 7 oz, 16 oz and 32 oz jars. Even though they’re sold separately, they work best together because they make an eye-catching set.
The secret to the practicality is that they have a wide-mouthed opening that makes it easy for filling without spilling. The jar tapers inwards toward the bottom to make handling and pouring a breeze.
These jars are made of 100% mineral soda-lime silica glass. The latex-free natural rubber ring seal is safe for contact with food. This seal is easily removable for when you need to pop it in the dishwasher.
When sealed it’s a lot more airtight than ordinary mason jars. They’re great to take along on shopping trips to the whole foods stores. That’s why the bigger jars in the range have become an important part of my plastic-free shopping kit.
What I appreciate about the Glasslock Rectangle Container set is that the set has three different color lids. Besides being colorful, this makes it easier to identify food items with different ingredients.
The capacity of these containers is 13,5 oz (400ml), so you can keep generous portions of food fresh for another day. Need to pop it in the freezer to store, or the microwave to heat up? These containers are freezer friendly and microwave safe (without the lid). The rectangular shape means they’re easier to stack and save space in your cupboard, fridge or freezer.
The watertight and airtight snap-lock lids are easy to open and close. They’re durable too - it passed the use testing machine for over three million instances of opening and closing. I was going to run the same test myself but since it’s been done for me…*cough*.
I should also add that for thorough washing, the silicon seal is removable.
The tempered glass of this container is five times stronger than regular glass, but if you let it slip from your butterfingers, and it shatters, I am informed that it will break into pebble pieces, not dangerous shards.
The EcoJarz PopTop wide-mouthed jar looks like a hybrid between a drinking bottle and jar, that’s why I keep my smoothies and juice in them. It’s easy to pour liquids in, or out of them, or pop my straw into it to drink it fresh and cool from the fridge.
For sealing the contents safely inside, the spill-proof stainless steel lid is solid enough to prevent spillage when I travel with it in my bag. It pours easily, stores easily and it’s dishwasher safe.
These 23 oz (700 ml) resealable containers come in four different color trims - blue, coral, green, and brown. The glass is BPA and phthalate-free so there is no chemical leaching of synthetic chemicals into the contents.
Stainless steel lasts for many years. So if you’re buying stainless steel, you’re buying something that will be a fixture in your kitchen. These containers are perfect for retaining the heat of winter soups on your table, or keeping summer salads cool and crisp in your fridge.
The durability is what makes these containers a real value purchase. Drop them once, twice, a hundred times, they won’t shatter or warp.
Different sizes are each sold separately. They are available in six different sizes - 3.1”, 4”, 5.5” 6.25”, 7” and 9”. Heavy-duty stainless steel clamps strongly hold the lid into place, making it leakproof and sealing in the freshness and preventing moisture or air from getting in.
The Razab 24 piece Glass Food Storage container set is the one to go for if you’re looking to replace most of your plastic food storage containers with one purchase. The set contains twelve glass containers of various shapes and capacities - great for storing leftovers.
There are six square containers, two rectangular ones and four round ones. The containers are safe for your freezer, your microwave, and your oven up to a temperature of up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Just be sure to remove the lids before you heat the container in the microwave or the oven.
I wasn't too crazy about the fact that they are sealed by plastic lids, but if you are using exclusively plastic containers, then this is a definite step in a more sustainable direction. The lids seal the containers with a four tab locking mechanism that locks freshness in with an easily removable silicone seal.
The hardest part about imagining a world without plastic is imagining it without the practicality of plastic bags. That’s where the Biobag comes in. To keep your sandwiches and other foods fresh, there’s no more practical substitute for the convenience of a resealable bag.
BioBag resealable food storage bags have all the practicality of plastic bags, only without the plastic. It’s made from GMO-free starch and biodegradable polymer, so it’s compostable.
I really loved the fact that they are resealable bags, so I didn’t have to worry about the contents being wasted because of exposure to the air. The only downside is that they’re not really suitable for storage in a freezer.
Biobags come in a pack of 20. Once they’ve expired, disposal of these bags is as easy as composting them with the rest of your food waste.
When you’re thinking about food safety, you have to look at whether the material that your food storage containers is made from has any potentially harmful chemicals that could seep into the food. Before you buy a zero-waste food container, check that it’s BPA-free, phthalate-free, PVC-free and lead-free.
Think about the plastics you use and dispose of on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. Whether you’re taking a packed lunch to work in plastic lunch bags or plastic lunch wrap, or whether you’re using old plastic containers to store food, there is an eco-friendly and durable alternative on the market that will last for years to come.
In short: it depends. The type of food (fatty, oily foods are more prone to leaching of chemicals), the temperature (heating food in plastic is a terrible idea), and of course the type of plastic used. The Guardian has a good write-up on the potential risks associated with plastic food storage.
Even in a best-case scenario where the plastic containers do not contain harmful chemicals that end up in the food that you’re storing, food is not as well preserved in plastic as it is in glass, or stainless steel. This is because on a microscopic level plastic is porous, and not as solid as nonporous materials. This affects the freshness and the taste of the food you’re storing, as well as leaving residual odors of items that are long gone.
In this article, I’ve shown you a few examples of freezer-friendly containers. Practically speaking, it’s best to let your food cool in the container that you’re going to freeze it in. That's what makes glass much more practical than plastic. Hot food in plastic containers will warm the porous plastic containers, and the heat may lead to chemicals seeping into the food.
The hardest thing about going plastic-free is making a start. No matter how small the change you make is, it will make a difference. You’ll also find that once you start, you’ll want to make more changes to revamp your utensils and practices in the kitchen.
As you can see, there are several items in your kitchen and pantry that you could swap out today for a more sustainable option. that you can change today. From getting rid of plastic bags, plastic wrap, plastic containers for food or plastic liquid containers, there is a huge variety of plastic-free food storage options for you to make small or large changes to your kitchen, home and life without affecting your lifestyle or compromising on convenience.
Happy zero-waste food storage!