Ziploc bags – love ’em or hate ’em, there’s no denying that these flexible, zippable bags are an ingenious invention. Created by a Dane in the 1950s and further developed by two great Romanian industrialists, by the 1970s the Ziploc bag had become a beloved American staple.
In solving food storage problems, however, Ziploc bags created others. These bags are single-use plastic, which harms land, water, and animals. Plastic in landfills contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and costs us tax dollars.
Plastic entering the oceans – more than 8 million tons every year, according to the UN – harms birds, turtles, sea mammals, and fish who mistake it for food. It’s not just sea animals that have to worry about plastic either. Microplastics have been found everywhere – from Mt. Everest to the Mariana Trench, to our very own municipal water sources.
The good news is that since these bags were only invented in the 1950s, there are certainly Ziploc alternatives. Some of these switches your grandparents may remember fondly, and others are a new kind of eco friendly alternative to Ziploc bags.
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ZERO WASTE SANDWICH BAGS & BOXES
Sandwiches are a lunch classic, and it’s nice to be able to toss them in a bag or lunch box while keeping them protected. When it comes to finding an eco-friendly alternative to sandwich bags, the following plastic-free options have the added advantage of safeguarding your sandwiches better as well as keeping them fresh.
Beeswax Sandwich Bags
Say goodbye to sweaty sandwiches with this clever eco-friendly Ziploc bag alternative. Beeswax wraps and bags are designed to be self-sealing like saran wrap, but they have the advantage of being breathable, which keeps your food fresher for longer.
Beeswax sandwich bags are sold in several sizes and are reusable time and time again. Simply wash with cold water and mild dish soap, then let dry out between uses. They’re also biodegradable, so when they do eventually reach the end of their lifespan (up to a year of regular use), you can throw them in your compost bin.
Where to buy Beeswax Sandwich Bags
- Buy a set of beeswax bags from Life Without Plastic
- Buy reusable sandwich wrap from Earth Hero
- Buy beeswax sandwich bags from Etsy
Or browse the range available on Amazon here.
Plant-Based Food Wraps – A Sustainable Alternative to Ziploc Bags
If you prefer to stay away from animal-derived products, you might enjoy plant-based food wraps instead. These are typically made the same way as their beeswax counterparts, but vegan alternatives are made from plant waxes, oils, and resins instead of beeswax.
Plan B Planet also makes quality organic and reusable plant-based food wraps.
While wax wraps like these are washable and moldable, keep in mind that just like the beeswax versions, they’re are not heat-safe and will usually only last for around a year or so before they become too creased and the wax starts to come off. However, at that point they can be composted, meaning they don’t have to add to landfill.
Where to buy vegan reusable sandwich bags
Stainless Steel Sandwich Boxes
Ask someone who was an adolescent from the 1940s to 1960s, and chances are they packed their sandwich in an aluminum or tin box. Today the material of choice is stainless steel, an extremely durable, hygienic, and 100% recyclable material.
ECOLunchbox also offers a 3-in-1 model with containers that can be used separately or locked into a tower if you want more space for a full lunch.
Other Stainless Steel Sandwich Box Options
- Stainless Steel airtight container from Life Without Plastic
- Stainless Steel medium to-go container from EarthHero
- Divided to-go container from EarthEasy
Or check out these offerings from Amazon here.
Silicone Sandwich Bags
Silicone as a storage material didn’t really take off until the 21st century, but now it’s commonly used as a replacement for Ziploc bags. Silicone bags have many of the same advantages of plastic, but they benefit from being reusable and free from chemicals like BPA and Phthalates.
US company Stasher lead the way in Ziploc bag alternatives with their fun and functional range of platinum-silicone storage bags. You’ll find a wide variety of sizes, including handy sandwich bags that come in 25 different colors!
Meanwhile, Luumi’s Silicone Bags are reusable sandwich bags with a button-over design that seals up food and keeps it fresh. These eco-friendly Ziploc bags come in red, teal, yellow, and clear and safe for the dishwasher, freezer, microwave, and oven up to 400º F. You’ll be hard-pressed to find an option more stylish and versatile.
Where to buy silicone sandwich bags
Or check out the options available on Amazon here.
FREEZER BAG ALTERNATIVES
When looking for an environmentally friendly alternative to Ziploc bags that are suitable for storing food in the freezer, you’ll want something that will lock out air and maintain a good seal.
If you have a freezer that tends to overflow, you’ll also want options that squish together or stack and that don’t break if they fall. Luckily, there are some great alternatives to Ziploc freezer bags that fit this bill.
Reusable Silicone Storage Bags
Stasher makes a variety of silicone bags from snack size to half-gallon, and they even have stand up bags that are great for liquids as well as dry storage. In addition to being freezer safe, they are okay to use in the dishwasher and microwave.
Stasher options can be expensive, but they’re designed to be endlessly usable as long as you clean and dry them carefully and keep them away from sharp objects.
Luumi makes what they call a silicone bowl, which is a stand-up pouch with a sealer on top to keep things airtight.
For an even more budget-friendly option, check out one of the many set offerings on Amazon, like Home Hero’s set of seven silicone bags which retail for under $20.
Quick links for reusable silicone freezer bags
Airtight Stainless Steel
We don’t usually think of putting stainless steel in the freezer, but you can get stackable stainless steel containers that use silicone inserts to create an airtight seal.
Although these alternatives to Ziploc freezer bags can’t go in the microwave, they can be reheated directly on the stovetop. The price is a little more than silicone options, but being stainless steel, they should last a lifetime.
Where to buy stainless steel Ziploc alternatives for your freezer
Pyrex Glass Freezer Containers
Many zero waste kitchens will already have a few Pyrex glass dishes hiding away in a drawer, making this an easy transition. Pyrex offers several different shapes and sizes, making them an easy choice for plastic free food storage.
The best part of this eco alternative to Ziploc bags is that you can transfer food directly from its baking dish, into the freezer, and then back into the oven to heat up again! Saving on dishes, washing up, and time.
Just a note – be sure to let the dish cool down before popping it in the freezer. And when taking leftovers out of the freezer, you’ll also want to let them thaw a bit to avoid a sudden temperature change from freezer to oven.
Amazon offers a large range of Pyrex dishes – shop them here.
ZERO WASTE SNACK BAGS
Sometimes it’s nice to just have a bag of snacks handy to toss in your purse or backpack. Since a tight seal isn’t always necessary for snacks, the following zero waste alternatives to Ziploc bags offer you more freedom with different materials and designs.
Recycled + Reusable Bag
To double your eco-impact, search for a Ziploc bag alternative made of recycled material. ChicoBag’s Snack Time rePETe Snack Bags, for example, have a colorful outer layer made of recycled-PET fabric.
We love the durability and two different size options for the velcro. And if they get messy (I’m looking at you, kiddos!), these can be thrown straight into your washing machine.
BPA-Free Reusable Plastic
While cloth, metal and glass are preferable zero-waste materials, plastic can be a viable option if you can use it again and again.
Full Circle Home offers BPA Free, Phthalate Free, and PVC free plastic bags that are FDA approved. Their Kids ZipTuck Reusable Snack Bags are among the best reusable Ziploc bags for young ones – or those still young at heart – and add some cuteness to snack time.
If you prefer a plastic-free alternative to Ziploc bags and like the aesthetic of natural fibers, there are some unique cloth options available too.
Juniperseed Mercantile’s bag has a simple yet elegant tucked over top that keeps your snacks safe inside. Because these bags are compostable, they’re also a true zero waste Ziploc.
Cloth options can seem pricy, so if you have some sewing skills, you can also try your hand at making your own out of old clothes or cloth scraps you have around the house.
Giving up Ziploc doesn’t mean giving up convenience or freshness. Eco-conscious options are easy to use and wash, as well as just as good (or better) at preventing spoilage or spills.
Whether you need a sandwich bag, something for the freezer, or something fun for snacks and treats, there’s an alternative to plastic Ziploc bags that you’re bound to get excited about.