Most of us can agree that plastic products have changed our lives, but they’re also polluting the planet. The same goes for food scraps, which are not only wasteful but can also end up in landfills. So in honor of Earth Day, on April 22, Consumer Reports has some simple ways to cut back on both.
If you’d like to reduce your environmental impact, try reusable silicone bags. Consumer Reports tried out a bunch. The bags are meant to replace your plastic sandwich and snack bags. They’re made from silica, a natural and abundant element found in sand and rock. They cost more up front, but you’ll be reusing them by tossing them in the dishwasher or washing them by hand.
The top-pick W&P 34-ounce bag for $12 is easy to open and close, leak- and stain-resistant, and great for freezer storage. It can also be used for sous-vide.
Before you go out and buy more, CR says see what you can reuse. The idea is to reduce your food waste. For the inedible parts, composting is an option. CR checked out several indoor composters, helpful if you’re short on outdoor space.
Many of these require worms and microbes that help break down the food scraps. But some smell and can attract pests.
The Vitamix Food Cycler for $400 skips the worms and just grinds and breaks down your food in about 3 to 8 hours. After that, the food will break down faster in landfills.
But for the most high-quality compost, the kind of stuff that you want to use for your plants and your garden, you want to go with worms.
CR says the Urban Worm Bag Version 2 from Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm for $140 is convenient and easy to use, and can handle 6 pounds of food scraps.
But before you spend any money on a composting system, CR says you should aim to reduce your overall food waste. That’s because composting doesn’t eliminate the much bigger upstream environmental impact associated with growing food.
If you want more information on the other reusable silicone bags CR tested, head over to CR’s website or watch the short video below.