To put it plainly, there’s a lot of stuff out there. Like, a lot of stuff—be it trash, new things, or used items. More specifically, there’s a lot of stuff in our city landfills, closets, and basements; on the shelves at grocery stores, corner markets, and bodegas alike. And to think, that’s only a small fraction of where all this stuff lives. The worst part is that there is more stuff being produced, only to be tossed away in anticipation of an expiration date or slow-to-sell design. Kind of nuts, right?
I bring this up because I recently had to break up with a few go-to disposable items: starting with aluminum foil and Ziploc freezer bags. Not because either product is ineffective, but because I could not in good conscience continue to buy an item that was designed to be disposable and whose production (and demise) ultimately affected the outdoor areas I cherish so much.
That being said, I held on for a little while, trying in vain to re-wash the aluminum foil and plastic bags. Unfortunately, after two or three re-washes, the product loses its integrity or breaks down altogether. Not exactly a conservative move; eco-consciously or monetarily. So, I started looking at alternatives for food storage, specifically plastic-free products or hardy reusables that I could use at home and while camping. As a result, I found a variety of products that had their own set of pros and cons, which presented their own set of dilemmas—and in sum, these are a few of my preferred favorites.
Tupperware was an obvious place to start: it’s durable, freezer-friendly, and has a relatively solid seal. The nice part is that Tupperware is as straightforward as it gets. No excess frills, baubles, or whatever. The stackable design lends itself to convenient packing when it comes to car camping and coolers. Plus, my Gran really digs it, and anyone or anything that gets the seal of approval from Peggy is a winner in my mind. That being said, Tupperware is still a plastic-based product and in-the-spirit-of-being-real, I have a real knack for melting the lids. To which I then have to go out and buy more lids or ransack Savers or Goodwill in search of top-mates. Effective? Yes-ish. Efficient? Not always.
On the other end of the spectrum, you have glass products, like Pyrex. In the United States, Pyrex is made out of borosilicate glass, which (Reader’s Digest Version) is a super durable glass material that (again) comes fully backed by my Dear Old Gran, Peggy. If you’re unfamiliar with it, allow me to introduce the two of you.
Way back in 1908, Pyrex made its debut for laboratory use. However, scientists would soon discover how effective it was in the kitchen thanks in part to a very brilliant significant other who had glass cut a battery jar and baked a whole dang cake in it. In turn, a whole new world of kitchen products was born, and boy do I have the bounty to prove it. I’ve got Pyrex casserole dishes, pie plates, mixing bowls, measuring cups, to-go containers, and so much more. And because the borosilicate glass is so hardy, you can do just about anything with it—except for drop it; I wouldn’t recommend that. To say the least, I like Pyrex a lot, so it was extra exciting when the folks over at World Kitchen LLC (who own Pyrex) were kind enough to send us the Snapware 16-Piece Storage Set to test out.
The Snapware series is a pretty cool concept. Each set comes with four glass and four plastic containers, complete with eight interchangeable snap lids that provide a 90% air-tight seal (I leave 10% for human error). My favorite part about this storage set is that I can use the plastic components for the freezer or pack them along on short backpacking trips (bye-bye Ziploc bags), while the glass containers I can use at home or when car camping. Plus, they’re easy to stack and feature a clear construction so you can see what you packed, which makes meal planning or organization really convenient.
My bottom line: the Snapware containers are really lovely for car camping, day hikes, short trail runs, and at-home usage. The glass or plastic option allows me to adapt to the day at hand. And much like Tupperware, their stackable, see-thru design makes it easy to stay organized both within the cooler and while cooking meals. And most importantly, the snap lids are pretty dang leakproof. Pretty hard to beat, especially if you’ve ever had a Tupperware container explode all over your cooler or backpack.
Hydroflask Food Flask
It’s probably safe to say that Tupperware and Pyrex have had a bit of a stronghold on the reusable container situation, but they’re not the only leader in the game. Since 2009, Hydroflask has been creating insulated and highly durable beverage holsters, transforming lukewarm expectations into crispy-cool or thundering-hot fulfillments. Hydroflask achieves such a feat by way of its double-wall, vacuum sealed technology, which ultimately protects your choice in sustenance from outside temperatures—meaning your cold water doesn’t take on the hot, 98-degree temperature that you’re rabble-rousing in. So, it should come as no surprise that Hydroflask’s food containers perform equally as well as their insulated beverage counterparts.
I own the 18-ounce food flask and have used it for everything from hot chili in the winter to cold, refreshing salads in the summer. It has an airtight seal, so you can forget about the contents oozing all over your pack, and it features a shape that fits within the confines of a zippered compartment or can be stuffed into one of the side stretch pockets of your backpack. That being said, the food flask is a little bit on the clunky side, so I’ve found it’s better suited for backcountry touring, hiking, mountain biking, or camping—as opposed to activities like trail running or whatnot.
Next up is the Stasher Bag. Stasher is fashioned out a pliable and thick silicone material, meaning that it’s not only freezer compatible, but also dishwasher and microwave friendly too. This a highly convenient feature concerning day-to-day needs, so I often find myself using the Stasher for work lunches or midday snacks. I’ve stuffed just about everything in there (fruit slices, crackers, rice, chips, etc.) and the bag and its contents have held up exceptionally well—with the exception of liquid-based foods. Stasher claims that it has an airtight, self-sealing closure, but I’ve found when I put pressure on the bag, the seal pops open. That being said, I’ve never experienced the Stasher un-seal itself and spill the contents all over my purse, pack, or bag.
As I mentioned previously, the Stasher is great for day-to-day needs, but it also makes its case as a pretty solid camping or trail running compatriot. When I trail run I prefer to consume whole foods rather than gels or protein bars, however, the thought of hauling around Tupperware containers isn’t exactly ideal. Case in point, the Stasher was a lightweight yet durable alternative and safeguarded my victuals without taking up much space. The Stasher is available in a variety of fun colors, prints, and sizes—but be fair warned, the “large” size that I have is still pretty small, so don’t expect it to hold a great deal of foodie bits.
Lastly, but certainly not least, is Bee’s Wrap. This is one of my personal favorites, mostly because it’s a great alternative to the tea towel (which I often use to wrap fresh baked bread in). Also, the company is based out of Vermont, which is one of my favorite states of all time. Bee’s Wrap consists of organic cotton material that’s infused with beeswax, organic jojoba oil, and tree resin, in turn providing you with a washable, reusable, and compostable alternative to items such as waxed paper, plastic wrap, or plastic containers. So as you can imagine, Bee’s Wrap is great for sandwiches, sushi-burrito rolls, sliced up vegetables (like carrots or celery), bread, and doubles as a cover for a bowl without a lid—just don’t flip said bowl upside down, the wrap will come off.
What are your go-to reusable containers or alternatives to plastic?