A Guide to Plastic-free Food Storage

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plastic free fridge

There are all kinds of waste, from packaging to disposable everyday items, but often overlooked is food waste. How much of your weekly groceries end up in the trash (or compost) before they ever got a chance to be consumed or used? Most of us would say that it's an embarrassing amount, and considering all the energy that goes into food production, it's key that we put a stop to unnecessary food waste.
 
However, is it possible to effectively store food without plastic? Won't our carrots go floppy and our salad wilt?
 
It is. It is completely possible to store your food in a way to decrease food waste without resorting to plastic.
 
Here are some simple rules that you can implement to get started:
 

  • Only store the things that need to be in the fridge there.

 

Otherwise make space on the counter for produce that does better at room temperature. Here is a break down of what should go where: 

 

Fridge Counter
Citrus Fruit melons
Berries apples
grapes mangoes
bell peppers pears
 carrots tomatoes
 celery plums
  squash
 
  • Use Water to Your Advantage

Just like you put flowers in a glass of water and on your counter, there are herbs and vegetables that need the same, like cilantro or kale. Others, like carrots and celery do best in water, but in the fridge. Some lettuces and leafy greens like spinach are best stored in damp tea towels or a Swag, and in the fridge.
 

  • Do NOT Refrigerate Bread!

There are two things people are worried with when it comes to bread. First of all, that it will develop mould, which most often actually happens when stored in plastic, and secondly, that it goes stale. People have battled these problems in the past by storing bread in the fridge which is actually the most drying thing you can do to it. Bread needs to breathe in order to not develop mold, so a bread bag and then a dark cupboard or bread box would be the best option. If you know that you will not be able to get through the whole loaf before it gets stale, preslice it and freeze it, toasting or defrosting a slice at a time as needed.
 
  • Ripen and then Refrigerate

Have you ever bought avocados just to have them all ripen at once at the counter and there's no way that you will be able to get through them before they start going bad? Once avocados achieve ripeness, store them in the fridge until you are ready to eat them.
 
  • Seal the Deal

If you only use half a lemon or avocado at a time, you only really need to cover the part that is exposed. Use a beeswax wrap to seal it, or just place face down onto a plate and place in the fridge.

 

  • Segregate the Ripe and Ready

Did you know that fruits and vegetables naturally emit a gas when they ripen to signal to neighbouring fruit to start doing the same? That's great in the wild or in a farming environment, but not necessarily in your fruit bowl. If you want to keep all of your fruit from reaching peak ripeness too soon, isolate the ones that are ripe and eat them as soon as possible.
 
  • Use the Crisper

Some things can be stored loosely in your crisper, like cabbage, spring onions and eggplants.

 

  • Don't Pass Over the Freezer

When you notice that your food is coming to the end of its usable life, freeze it! Veggies can be chopped up and used in stews, stirfrys, and casseroles, while frozen fruit is ideal for smoothies, jams, and baked goods. Otherwise, cook something with them to be eaten or frozen, like quiches, pot pies, or filling soup stock. Instead of plastic baggies, consider (re)zip bags, sturdy jars, or glass containers.
 

 

Minimizing food waste doesn't have to be complicated- it's all about forming habits like meal planning, proper storage, and finding creative use for scraps and food that's about to expire. 

 

How do you deal with this issue?
 

 

image credit: Jessie May

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