Living Sustainably: WWGD (What Would Grandma Do?) Part II

For a while I’ve been trying to cut down and ultimately eliminate plastic in our home, with my primary focus being on plastic used on food or beverages.  I’ve gotten rid of plastic cups, and while I have cut way back on the use of plastic storage bags, there are some uses I haven’t found a replacement for yet.

The past couple of weeks I’ve been trying to make extra of everything I make for dinner.  Some for lunches (including my son’s), some for freezing and some for sharing.  In the past, my storage method has been predominantly plastic.  Since then, I’ve replaced the containers for leftovers that will be eaten soon with glass containers or jars and lunches either get put into the same thing, a reuseable sandwich bag or a thermos, but the freezer stuff had me puzzled.  I’ve seen silicone containers, but have to say I feel my feelings are very mixed on them.  While I think the concept is great, I’m still so leery to put food in silicone whether it’s for baking or freezing because, while I have no background in the matter, my gut tells me that there’s something that’s just not right.  I have a fear that in a few years we’re going to hear that silicone is horrible and we need to stop using it.  So I’ve been on the quest for materials that have stood the test of time.

That brings me to today.  Okay, not quite.  That brings me to a couple of days ago.  I’d made a loaf of banana bread and decided, “That’s it.” I’m not putting it in plastic any more.  No Ziplock, no Saran Wrap, nothing.  That’s when I realized I had no idea what I was going to store it in. I wasn’t about to run out and buy a “freezer-safe” container for $25 or a set of them for $50 -$100 because that’s just ridiculous.  I tried to remember if I knew life before plastic and all I could recall was waxed paper.  That’s when I decided to call my Mom.  I asked her, you guessed it, “What did Grandma do?  What did she wrap freezer stuff in?  What did she put left-overs in?  What did she put sandwiches in?”  (I actually have Snack Taxi’s, reusable sandwich bags, but they are in the wash so I needed a back-up concept.)  I was looking forward to getting great insight.  And I did, but not what I expected.

For starters, they didn’t have a freezer, they had a tiny ice box, so they didn’t freeze anything.  Ha, ha!  No WONDER my fridge seems so out-of-place in my kitchen!  The houses in our neighborhood were all built in the late 1930s – early 1940s, few years earlier than my Mom was born, but basically the same era.  No fridge, no freezer, that explains a lot!

Back to the plastic problem.  Next up: leftovers.  No leftovers.  There were six kids in the family so leftovers were non-existent.  Okay, I rolled the dice.  “How about your lunches?”  Can you guess it?  They didn’t pack a lunch.  Instead, they went home for lunch, but my Grandpa was a mail carrier on a rural mail route.  Grandma packed him a small lunch every day (finally some hope!).  A sandwich, wrapped in waxed paper, a thermos of coffee, and something my Grandma had baked, like banana bread or nut bread, wrapped in waxed paper!

So I didn’t get the answers I thought I would, but I did learn more than I thought I would.  I learned more about my Mom’s childhood and my Grandma’s way of doing things so I was already happy.  I also learned that I’m on the right track on one thing, or at least I think so.  While waxed paper isn’t reusable for very long (at least it doesn’t contaminate the food and will eventually break down) so for now I’m okay with that.

So I’m still on the quest to find better solutions for the freezer and for sharing, but at least the ball is in motion.

If you have a plastic-free method that you really like, please let me know!

Kate

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2 Comments to “Living Sustainably: WWGD (What Would Grandma Do?) Part II”

  1. Hi Dear Kate-
    I’ve been thinking about this issue a lot lately.
    My message is a little off base but I still think maybe relevant. An old classmate of mine has started website on up-cycling plastic. She has come up with some really creative solutions on how to make some of this plastic we have lingering about more useful, instead of plugging up landfills Take a peak if you have a moment. It doesn’t solve the “what to do with leftovers dilemma” but it still gives me hope!
    Your old friend, Shauna

    http://upcyclingplastic.weebly.com/contact.html

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