Proper food storage not only allows you to prolong its shelf life but also gives its packaging a second life. Rather than tossing out milk cartons, bread tags, or ice cream tubs to landfills, let’s explore some creative and eco-friendly alternative uses for these seemingly disposable items.
Those little pieces of plastic with the best-before date stamped on them could do more good as:
- Cord wrappers: Slimmer cords (think headphones or your phone charger) can be wrapped around and held firmly with the tag.
- Key labels: A great way to tag your keys if you have many or multiple people with the same – put a name on it!
- Kids crafts: When the holidays are on the horizon, snowmen’s faces can be painted on them.
- Store golf balls: Eggs and golf balls are essentially the same size, so cartons are the perfect storage space.
- Mushroom foraging: This tip comes from mycologists. Many types of wild mushrooms can fit perfectly into an egg carton.
- Seed starter: Fill the individual compartments with soil and seeds. Once your seedlings are ready to transplant, you can cut the carton into sections and plant them directly into the soil.
- Painting projects: Egg cartons can be a quick and easy DIY palette for your next acrylic or watercolour masterpiece. It is also an excellent option for painting with kids for a little less mess.
Yogurt tubs (or any lidded tub)
The most obvious option is to treat these tubs like Tupperware. These are great if:
- You have leftovers to share with dinner guests (and don’t have to worry about getting your container back).
- You have something you’d like to freeze (just label the tub to remember what’s in there!).
- You want to start sprouting seeds to transfer into the garden.
Clamshell fruit containers
- Seed starter: Cut off the lid and use it to catch water dripping from the other half, which contains your seeds and soil.
- Bonus storage: Wash and dry the container and you’ll have extra storage for art supplies (the transparent plastic makes it easier to get the colours you need), baked goods or sandwiches.
Bonus: pop tabs (or from other canned beverages)
The March of Dimes Canada runs a donation program for pop tabs (drop off only in their national office in Toronto). Other local organizations or chapters will run programs like this as well. The pop tabs generally go toward making wheelchairs for children.
The next time you finish that loaf of bread or gallon of milk, think twice before tossing the packaging into the trash or recycling bin. With a little imagination and creativity, you can turn these common food packaging items into useful and unique treasures that will not only benefit you but also the environment.