Plastic Can Reduce Waste on Game Day
Packaging that Reduces Fresh-Food Spoilage
Planning to make a fresh fruit or veggie salad? Lightweight, transparent plastic cling wrap, poly bags and stretch film help protect your fresh ingredients in the store and your kitchen by improving shelf life and helping protect against contamination.
Many fruits and veggies—even some you may not expect—last longer when bagged or wrapped in plastic packaging since they are exposed to much less oxygen that hastens spoilage. We all know that salad greens last longer when wrapped, but a cucumber in lightweight plastic wrap can last three times longer than an unwrapped cucumber sitting in a store bin or refrigerator. A major fruit company says its specially designed plastic banana packaging can delay ripening by three days, so you’re less likely to throw away overripe fruit.
Reducing food waste not only saves you money, it helps reduce negative impacts on the environment. Studies find that up to 10 times more resources (materials, energy, water) are used to make and distribute food than are used to make the packaging that protects it. In the case of plastic packaging, the numbers can be even better—for example, only three percent of the energy used to produce a loaf of store-brought bread is needed to make the thin, lightweight plastic bag that the loaf comes in.
Packaging that Reduces Packaging Waste
In addition to helping prevent food waste, minimalist plastic packaging designs are reducing the amount of material needed for packaging, which can lead to less packaging waste.
For example, today many sauces, dressings, snacks and other game day foods come in thin, lightweight, re-zipable plastic pouches—use what you need, squeeze out the air and then save the rest for later. Some foods, such as pasta dishes and vegetables, are packaged in microwavable steamer bags that allow the food to be transported, stored and prepared in one thin, lightweight plastic bag.
Many types of plastic packaging also consume less energy to make than alternative materials—and often weigh considerably less. One nut producer recently switched from a glass to a plastic peanut jar. The result: the packaging weighs 84 percent less.
Plastic packaging delivers food with significantly less waste and energy use.
And most plastic packaging is shatter-resistant—less breakage leads to less wasted food and packaging.
Recycle, Recycle, Recycle—and Buy Recycled
Recycle all the plastic food packaging you can from your game day gathering. This could include beverage and condiment bottles, containers for sour cream and dip, fruit and veggie containers, and more. Along with your grocery bags, plastic bags from hamburger and hot dog buns, bread, produce and other foods can be dropped off at participating retail and grocery stores for recycling (make sure the bags are clean and dry). If you’re not sure what can go in your recycling bin, check with your local municipality.
Some of the plastics from recycled packaging are made into durable kitchen tools that are great for game day (and every day) food prep, such as colorful mixing bowls, cutting boards, serving spoons, colanders, and more. Game day food and drinks can be served using tableware made with recycled plastics. These reusable plates, bowls, cups, and utensils are shatter-resistant, which is great for parties, all thanks to plastics.
Make the Most of Your Leftovers
Promptly refrigerating leftovers in airtight plastic containers or zipper bags can help keep food fresh so you can enjoy it later instead of wasting it. To help stave off spoilage, choose containers that limit the amount of air exposed to food—less air, less spoilage. These properly stored leftover foods, such as cooked hamburger patties or grilled chicken, are easy to use in new recipes later in the week.
If you made more than you plan to eat in the near future, freezing food in airtight plastic packaging can help prevent food waste. Plastic freezer bags, for example, make it especially easy to keep air away from food, helping prevent “freezer burn” that can lead to food waste. And some plastic storage containers are labeled for both freezer and microwave use, so you can conveniently freeze, reheat, and even serve food in the same container.