We all have our home vices, don't we? Taryn, our Lifestyle Editor, for instance, went on a "Green Clean" journey to reduce her dependance on paper towels last year — a move that made me take a good hard look at my own wasteful practices in and around my home. I'm pretty good about remembering to bring my reusable bags to the grocery store (and when I forget, I always try to return the plastic bags to the recycling bin at my local Publix on the next trip). My detergent and cleaning products were mostly eco-friendly and wouldn't hurt the water supply (or so the packaging says). But there was one item I couldn't run from; something I used and abused in a way that was frankly a bit out of control: resealable plastic bags.
I live in a two-person household where only one of us takes a packed lunch to the office every day (I work from home). I have no children who need PB&Js and Goldfish crackers zipped away for safe keeping to bring to school Monday through Friday. So, the question begged to be answered: how on earth was I going through my bulk Costco purchase of sandwich bags so quickly? Unfortunately, the answer was easy: I was being shamefully wasteful.
As someone who cooks nearly every night of the week for two, I have plenty of leftovers: a half onion here, a quarter of an avocado and lime there. All of that had to go somewhere. Sure, I could have been more mindful and stored these in my plethora of Pyrex bowls, but I more often than not reached for my trusty Ziplocks. On a daily basis, I was using three to four bags on dinner alone, not to mention for my partner's lunches. I also travel often, and like to stash my mini shampoo, body soap and conditioner in one to safeguard my other things in case of an unfortunate explosion. My vitamins and prescriptions? You guessed it, Ziplock bags all the way.
Anyway, you get the gist and either relate to me or are seriously judging me right now (for which I do not blame you). I finally came to terms with the fact that it was a huge problem I needed to fix. I couldn't stand being part of the enormous plastic waste epidemic in this country any longer. According to The Balance, Americans go through roughly 102.1 billion plastic bags every year, of which only 9.5% are recycled. The rest? Landfills. And considering it can take nearly 500 years for plastic to decompose, I had to do something on my part.
Enter the food-grade silicone reusable bag. After a little research and gabbing with some friends, I learned these existed. A quick look on Amazon returned some pretty decent options, though honestly, I had some sticker shock. Bags by Stasher, a company known for their reusable baggies, ran about $12 each. That was a no-go for me. I want to save the planet, but I don't want to go completely broke while doing it.
A little more digging through the comments and other recommendations led me to this set of four by a brand called SUQI. Four bags and two suction tops for about $20? I decided it was worth a try. I ordered two sets and honestly have never looked back.
It was a bit of a learning curve for me at first; the top slider to close the silicone bag was a little stubborn, and the bag tends to stick to itself on the inside (keeping the flats pulled apart when drying worked like a charm to avoid this, though), but it's been so worth it to know my Ziplock habit was no longer quickly filling the landfill. Better yet, because these aren't plastic, they are significantly sturdier. I can use them for cooking sous vide style (if I one day learn how to actually do that), I can pop them into my dishwasher no problem, and the freezer, as well. They can be a little floppy but are easy enough to stand up and fill with sauces or cut-up fruits and veggies. When I'm done using one, a quick rinse is all it takes for it to be ready to roll again.
So, I'm going to say it: If I can turn my bad baggie habit around, I believe you can too if you're as afflicted as I was. Give it a whirl, let me know how it goes and please share any other reusable products that have changed the way you live in the comments below!