While I was taking a picture of Hubs recycling my Ziploc® brands bags at a big box store, someone approached me and asked what was I doing. Was I in trouble (said my inner four year old?) I guess it just seemed a little odd. As I explained that I was writing a post about how you can recycle your food storage bags, she squealed with glee. “I had no idea I could recycle lunch and food bags!” she explained. I bet you didn’t know either.
But recycling is only one way to keep plastic food storage bags out of landfills and waterways. Read on to learn ways to reuse or recycle your plastic storage bags to reduce your plastic landfill footprint. (*Spoiler Alert*–Hilarious video below giving you the tools to be your inner eco-warrior.)
Let’s Get the Facts about Plastic Bags Recycling
Here are some sober facts. Over a trillion plastic bags are used annually, which would inevitably include food storage bags. A study of 25,000 people from 2010 to 2013 revealed that 58% of those surveyed use mostly plastic sandwich bags. Unfortunately, according to the Municipal Solid Waste Generation, Recycling, and Disposal in the United States: Facts and Figures for 2011 less than 12.9% of all plastic containers and packaging are recycled each year. The rest end up in our waterways, litter our streets, or end up in a landfill.
Plastic bags do not biodegrade and can take over 200 to 1000 years to degrade in a landfill. Realize scientists don’t know how long it will take for a plastic bag to decompose. Plastic bags have only been around for 50 years. Due to lack of first hand evidence of the bags’ decomposition, scientists use respirometry tests to guesstimate.
The bags photodegrade, which means they break down into tiny pieces. These pieces can absorb toxins which leach into our soil, water and can be digested by animals. I personally use few food storage bags and opt for reusable containers when I can. However, if you do use food storage bags, you have options to keep those bags out of the landfills by either reusing them or recycling.
Be sure to watch my video below to learn some ideas of how you can keep the bags out of landfills and be kinder to the environment. *Spoiler Alert* There are costume changes, guest appearances, and my hair looks amazing. (And yes, the video was nominated in a special category for the Emmy’s.) So, you better watch it.
Reuse or Repurpose Your Bags
Many people re-use their bags over and over again for food storage. I rarely re-use my food storage bags for food but use them for storage of a multitude of items in my house. (I am kind of a germaphobic.)
If you like to rewash your bags, you can air dry them using the faucet (my preferred method) or a wood drying rack.
But if you are looking for a handy tool, Bag-e-wash is a dishwasher accessory to sanitize your bags in the dishwasher. ( I have never used this accessory so I don’t know if it works.) The CEO of the Company claims, “We have washed our test bags more than 50 times each. They are still in usage but we have quit counting.”
I use my bags for a multitude of items in my house. To get you started on re-using or repurposing your bags, here are some ideas.
- Care 2’s 18 Ways to Reuse Plastic Bags
- Real Simple’s 20 Ways to Reuse Old Plastic (and Paper) Bags.
- And of course, you can watch my video to see how I re-use mine. *Hint. Hint*
Recycle Your Bags
Lastly, you can recycle the ENTIRE clean and dry Ziploc® brand bag (you don’t need to remove the Ziploc seal tops) at your nearest plastic bag recycling location that also takes back plastic grocery bags. For a list of take back locations, see Plastic Film Recycling.
Not all locations are listed on the website. Consumers are encouraged to add locations to the website. To recycle, simply wash or dump the crumbs, air dry and deposit the bags where you recycle plastic grocery bags. Target, Lowe’s, and Walmart stores offer grocery bag recycling. In addition, according to the website, the following items can also be recycled:
- bread bags
- packaging wrap
- produce bags
- napkin, tissue paper, and toilet roll packaging.
- air pillows
- dry cleaning bags
To see a complete list with pictures of recyclable plastic film items, see HERE.
It is time to recycle them when the bags get cloudy or the seals fail. The National Resource Defense Council (NRDC) states when #4 plastic bags become cloudy, they are deteriorating.
“These plastics aren’t known to contain any hazardous chemicals, but deteriorated plastic bags may transmit substances with unknown side effects into your food. Cloudy #4 bags also start to absorb odors and other flavors.”
Encourage your children to bring home their bags rather than dispose of them at school. Alternatively, organize a plastic bag collection system at work or your children’s schools. See HERE for success stories of how businesses, universities, and not for profits are creating collection programs. With two options to choose from, there is no reason a plastic bag should ever end up in a landfill.
Join the Conversation:
How do you keep plastic bags out of the landfill?
This post was sponsored by SC Johnson Ziploc ® brand to create awareness of food storage bag recycling. All opinions stated here are my own. I firmly believe in keeping plastic bags out of the landfill.