Have you ever gone shopping for fresh fruits and veggies to find you’re surprised by how much plastic packaging you see around them? It is not uncommon to see fruits sold in plastic clamshell containers or plastic bags offered to bag loose vegetables at most grocery stores. Depending on what you’re looking to buy sometimes packaging is unavoidable. But we’ve gathered a few of our favorite tips below to help you shop smart and choose sustainable storage options.
- The first thing we suggest is to use reusable vegetable bags. You can use them instead of the individual plastic bags when opting to buy loose produce rather than pre-packaged. These are often made of cloth or a fine mesh to allow airflow through making them great for fridge storage as well as transportation. Best of all you can machine wash these and use them over and over again!
- Using vegetable bins are also a great storage option. These are similar to the crisper drawers in the fridge but are made specifically to help keep your food fresher longer. Some bins even have a means for helping to absorb ethylene gas as the produce ripens. This gas is responsible for ripening vegetables but may cause produce to ripen too quickly when contained. Some variations have a colander-type tray that nests inside of the tub and keeps the vegetables from touching the sides or bottom of the tub, allowing you to add a bit of water to the bottom to help maintain a proper humidity inside. Just be sure the vegetables are not sitting in the water! For more great storage options both in the freezer and fridge, take a look at this article.
- Additionally, storing leftovers or prepped meals for the week in air-tight glass containers in the fridge or freezer is a great way to keep pre-cooked food fresh and tasty. You could also use glass jars repurposed for example from sauce, salsa, or peanut butter for an easy and free travel container. This blog post has great plastic-free storage options we love!
Produce-Specific Plastic-Free Storage
What about all your fruits and vegetables that are usually stored in plastic bags? Here are some no-plastic storage tips:
• Store artichokes, carrots, and celery in bowls of cold water in the fridge.
• Store avocados, strawberries, figs, and any other berries in a paper bag.
• Store beets, Brussels sprouts, cucumbers, green beans, and radishes in open glass containers covered with damp towel in the fridge.
• Store cauliflower, herbs, and cherries in closed glass containers in the fridge.
• Store broccoli rabe, corn, snap peas, spinach, and cut melon in open glass containers in the fridge.
• Store greens in closed glass containers covered with a damp cloth in the fridge.
• Store cabbage, eggplant, and spring onions right in the fridge crisper.
If you freeze meat and fish, wrap them in natural parchment paper. Simply wrap and tie with a bit of poultry twine! This is also a great way to store sandwiches in the fridge.
There are many environmentally-friendly options that not only help you to reduce your own personal plastic footprint but also help in keeping your vegetables fresher for longer. In addition to being sustainable and often reducing plastic consumption, they have the added benefits of reducing food waste and saving you money!
Article written by Solana Center volunteer Mark.