plastic containers: Reuse

This seems like a no brainer, but that’s often the nature of everyday sustainable, isn’t it?

Take-out and doggie bags are a reality in my life.  However, just like the commercials for V8 vegetable juice where the person slaps herself on her forehead and exclaims, “I should have had a V8!”, there’s many a time my little inside-voice yells, “I should have brought my own take-home container!”

I definitely have a lot piling up at home.  The main categories are:

  • Large 32-ounce yogurt containers.  (Nancy’s even has a space to write in a note.)
  • Clear 32-ounce containers used for soups and Thai curries.
  • Clear 16-ounce containers also for curries and other take-out dishes.
  • And increasingly, because of the ban on styrofoam in San Francisco, flat plastic containers–white or black–with a clear plastic top.

In this post, I’ll focus on some ideas for reusing the plastic containers that I already have (and will write another post on Reduce of containers.)  Here are some ways I use those containers:

  • Store leftovers in the fridge.  (Reuse) 
  • Store extra portions in the freezer, for easy meals at a later time.  I label them with description and date on masking tape.  Great for frozen fruit; the clear plastic ones are nice because you can see the fruit.  (Reuse)
  • Take food to potlucks.  You don’t have to worry about forgetting your plate there, plus it’s great to leave in case someone else needs a container to take home leftovers.  (Reuse and Recycle, if you leave it and the host or someone else puts it out for recycling.)
  • Take food on planes.  Let’s face it, air travel is getting more expensive and less civil every day.  If you have a sandwich or extra food from the night before, pack it up and enjoy it on the plane, instead of forking out lots of money for either junk or an overpriced turkey sandwich.  When you land, you can throw out the container, or if you are like me, I’ll wash out and pick up something else for the trip home.  But of course that’s extreme.  It’s a good deed just to reuse.  Plus your taste bugs and tummy will be happy.  (Reuse and maybe Recycle.)
  • Take food to a picnic. It’s summer time!  When you go to that 4th of July BBQ, show your energy-awareness spirit and bring your potato salad in a reused container.  You don’t have to worry about what happens to it on the picnic table, or afterward.  If you can bring home and use again, great.  If not, at least it got reused at least once.  (Reuse and maybe Recycle.)
  • Store stuff.  It doesn’t have to be food.  Crayons, cotton balls, nails, marbles, extra buttons, sewing notions, electronics doo dads, … you get the picture.  Try it out before running out to The Container Store to find a pretty container.  (Reuse)
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