Put the lid on plastic bags and disposable containers
Ziplock and other sealable bags and plastic containers are marketed as being disposable. Use as many as you like, throw them away and buy more, that's what their makers have taught us. But "disposable plastic" is an oxymoron. You can't dispose of plastic. Once plastic is out there in landfills, it doesn't go anywhere. Throw it away and buy a new one for next time doesn't sound so good when you think of the billions of bags, containers and bottles out there polluting the Earth. What can we do?
Use these items when there is no other option. Consider packing sandwiches and crackers in reusable storage containers instead of bags. Glass containers are preferred and safest (in terms of leaching chemicals into food), but even plastic that will serve you for 10 or 20 years is better than disposable containers. I've gotten into the habit of storing my leftover meals right in the pan by just putting the lid on the pot and putting it in the fridge. When you open a block of cheese or want to freeze meat, think containers instead of plastic bags. I've been trying to phase out plastic bags from my kitchen, but it's taking me some time to accumulate enough storage containers. I'm working on it. I do save and reuse glass jars (from things like salsa and pasta sauce) for storage. Please share if you have any tips.
If you must use sealable plastic bags, or if a friend gives you something in one, you can wash and reuse them. I get about 6 uses out of the plastic bags I do use. Washing out bags takes about 10 minutes of my time every few weeks. I keep them in a pile under the sink and then once they pile up, I wash them all in a sink of soapy water. Just turn the bags inside out and swish them around a bit in the soapy water. Then rinse them and let them dry out while inside out. Of course, do not reuse bags that you stored meat or other messy foods because you may not be able to get them clean. This is best for bags that had crackers or other dry snacks in them.
Many municipalities offer a way to recycle your household plastic. Where I live, it costs about $8 a month to have a large bin of recycling collected each week. Bring any plastic items that you take out of the house with you home so that they can be recycled.
Also, remember to finish the cycle. That is, buy products made from recycled material. I recently bought an outdoor rug from Home Depot made out of recycled PET. And if you saw my previous post, Billabong is even making board shorts from recycled plastic. My Preserve toothbrush is made from recycled yogurt lids. And of course, you can find recycled paper products just about anywhere. What good is recycling if we don't use what what we've recycled?