It was Zero Waste Week (sign up here for next year if you haven’t already) last week and although I really wanted to write about it during the week, I had a ridiculously busy week and just didn’t have time :(.
I had pledged to find some longer lasting reusables. In particular I wanted to find some alternatives to the reusable containers I am currently using. At the moment I am relying on plastic sandwich boxes, plastic containers in my freezer and in between breakages plastic water bottles. I want to move away from plastic which generally ends up in the bin when it is finished with because we can only recycle plastic bottles in Brighton and Hove.
Water bottle problems:
I have tried various types of water bottles. I had a glass one I really liked for ages, but after several drops, the mouth of the bottle got chipped and eventually broke. I tried again and bought a new one, but I put the bottle in a pocket of a rucksack and didn’t realise was that there was a stone in the pocket underneath the water bottle. I accidentally dropped the rucksack on the floor and the bottom of the water bottle smashed in the bag, which was a bit of a nightmare as I was out and about.
I didn’t want to risk giving the kids glass water bottles in case they broke, but thought metal might be ok. Within days of them having the metal water bottles, they dented them and then my younger son managed to completely break the sports cap bit to it.
I don’t like the plastic water bottles as although they may be BPA free, I don’t know what other substances are leaching into the water from them. They need replacing fairly frequently as the sports caps get chewed on and although I put them in the recycling, I’m not actually sure they can be recycled.
My next thought is to buy a metal water bottle that is protected in some way, or make a protective sleeve for it! I will also try to avoid having a plastic sports cap. Unless anyone has any better suggestions for me?
Freezer container problems:
I currently use rectangular take away style plastic boxes to store food in the freezer. They work really well because they fit neatly into the space, maximising the amount of food I can store in it. Plus when I want to use the food inside, I don’t need to worry about defrosting anything in advance. There is a bit of give in the plastic and the contents just pop out.
They break fairly regularly though and end up in the bin. I was taking them to family when I visited whose council does recycle plastic, but they were piling up and then I kept forgetting to take them. I decided that storing piles of broken plastic containers was a step too far for me and stopped doing it.
What is the alternative though? I know it is possible to freeze stuff in glass jars and I have frozen jam in jars before. You do have to be really careful taking them out the freezer though as sudden changes in temperature could cause them to crack. You also have to leave a gap in the jar to allow the jam to expand when frozen (same with the plastic containers as well). They won’t make the best use of space in the freezer and I have to be organised and take things out to defrost in advance (I’m often not that organised). The other problem is that not everything will fit in glass jars.
There are other containers out there. The ones I have seen are metal ones, which can be quite expensive. I usually have around 20 of the rectangular takeaway style plastic containers in my freezer and if I found a replacement container I liked it would be quite expensive to replace the plastic ones. I think there would be similar problems to the glass jars in that they would need to be defrosted in advance and they might not make the best use of space in my freezer. I don’t really want to keep using the plastic breakable ones though.
Lunch box issues:
Beth Terry of My Plastic Free Life has written a great blog post here on alternative sandwich containers. The problem for me is choosing between a wrap (which I can well imagine would contain a squished sandwich by lunchtime) or a tin, which knowing my kids would be dented and bashed out of shape within minutes.
I could give the wraps a go though for the kids – I could try putting them in a lunch bag and see what happens. I could also buy metal ones for the grown ups in my household.
If you have some alternative ideas or advice for me over switching bottles and / or containers – particularly in the freezer department – please let me know – thanks!
One of the reasons I was so busy during Zero Waste Week was because I helped to put on an event to celebrate it and you can read more about that in my blog post tomorrow!
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