As Earth Day approaches, many of us ponder whether we’ll be leaving our planet in better shape than when we inherited it. After reading the disturbing fact that by the year 2050 more plastic bottles will occupy the ocean than fish, it doesn’t seem like we’re doing a particularly good job.
During one school year, each child in this country typically throws away nearly 70 pounds of trash at lunchtime alone—and 90 percent of all garbage found floating on the Earth’s surface consists of plastic bags. To turn this around, swap out some of your disposables for the fun products now available. Bringing your own reusable packages has never been easier on the environment or your wallet.
Itzy Ritzy Snack Happens Reusable Snack & Everything Bags are food safe, have a water-resistant lining, a real zipper and are washable. Available in two sizes, they’re perfect for snacks, lunches or even small supplies and are made in adorable patterns like Under the Sea, Little Fox and Social Butterfly (3.5-by-7-inch mini, 2 for $13; 7-by-7-inch sandwich size, $10; www.itzyritzy.com).
Each dishwasher-safe LunchSkins by 3greenmoms sandwich/snack bag can replace 500 plastic bags. Made of durable, waterproof fabric in colorful, playful designs (3.5-by-6.5-inch snack bag, $7; 6.5-by-6.5-inch sandwich bag, $8; www.lunchskins.com; use code FONZ for 10 percent off plus 15 percent donated to the Smithsonian National Zoo).
reuseit Reusable Sandwich Bags are constructed of nylon right here in the U.S. They’re sturdier and more moisture resistant than cloth for transporting both hot and cold items, and the top folds over to keep food secure. Available in berry, black, blue and brown (6-by-7.5 inches folded, $5.50; www.reuseit.com).
Not only are ChicoBag Reusable Sandwich and Snack Bags water and stain resistant inside, BPA, PVC, Phthalate and lead free, constructed from food-safe recycled materials and machine washable, but the size is adjustable with secure hook and loop closures (three 6.5-by-9.5-inch bags, $15.99; www.chicobag.com).
The lightweight 1.4 ounce Envirosax Eco Friendly Resusable Bags are strong enough to hold 44 pounds, are water resistant, washable and neatly roll up, so you can always have some on hand. Plus, they come in whimsical designs like Havana, Paleo, Tokyo and Travel with motifs such as Paris and New York (16.5-by-19.5 inches, from $5.25; www.envirosax.com).
While many consumers have begun bringing grocery bags to the store, how many vegetable bags are tossed each year? Flip & Tumble Produce Bags are lightweight machine washable polyester bags designed in California that actually keep your veggies from getting soggy (12-by-14-inch bags, 5 for $12; www.flipandtumble.com).
If you buy grains, nuts and coffee in bulk to get the freshest foods, store them in Flip & Tumble Bulk Food Bags. The zip-top pouches are made of 100 percent cotton and are washing machine safe (10-by-11.5-inch bags, 3 for $14; www.flipandtumble.com).
Klean Kanteen Insulated Classic Bottles are available in a plenty of colors and sizes, made of 18/8 food-grade stainless, keep warm beverages hot for 12 hours and cool ones iced for 24 hours, and come with a lifetime warranty (12 ounce, $24.95; 20 ounce, $30.95; 32 ounce, $36.95; 64 ounce, $59.95; www.kleankanteen.com).
Conveniently carry your 12- to 40-ounce water bottle in a ChicoBag Bottle Sling from the rePETe line, which uses 100 percent post-consumer recycled plastic bottles to make the remarkable fabric that has pockets for pens and lip balm, a pouch to hold a phone and ID, and folds into a little pouch when not in use ($9.99; www.chicobag.com).
Help eliminate the 500 million plastic straws Americans use every day with U Konserve Stainless Steel Drinking Straws (2 for $7.95; www.ukonserve.com).
Stop tossing plastic lunch forks and tote the BPA, PVC, Phthalate and lead-free sustainable U Konserve Bamboo Utensil that’s a fork and spoon in one ($4.95; www.ukonserve.com) or for a full set of flatware that comes in a pouch made from a water bottle, try To-Go Ware Reusable Bamboo Utensil Set with a fork, spoon, knife and chopsticks ($12.95; www.to-goware.com).
Ditch plastic containers and send lunch in the U Konserve Stainless Steel Leak-proof Nesting Trio, a set of three 18/8 food-grade stainless steel bowls that are BPA, PVC, Phthalate and lead free, and dishwasher safe (set of 5-, 8- and 16-ounce containers with lids, $22.95; www.ukonserve.com)
TerraCycle is an innovative company that not only pays charitable groups to collect nonrecyclables, but then upcycles these materials to make functional items like a gift set containing Circuit Board Coasters, a Clipboard and Picture Frame ($20) to help prevent more than 3-million tons of electronic waste from landfills.
The Honest Kids Messenger Bag (10.5-by-13.25 inches, $7.99) and Capri Sun Drink Pouch Pencil Case (medium, $3.99) are constructed from discarded drink pouches to help divert billions of them from winding up in landfills across America (www.terracycle.net).
What are you going to swap first?