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Ziplock Bag Alternatives – Reusable Sandwich Bags

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This post has been updated as of 04/01/2024

As a working mom, with a husband, a young child, another baby on the way (now two young kids), whilst in grad school (done with grad school, yay!), and taking care of our elderly parents– neither my husband nor I have time to go to the grocery store, let alone zero waste grocery shop. Unfortunately, if we have groceries delivered, the shoppers tend to use plastic grocery bags, which I then recycle at a plastic film recycler.

Admittedly Instacart and Shipt have been lifesavers. Once reality set in, my goal was no longer “zero waste,” but I still follow the mantra–“refuse, reuse, reduce, rot, and recycle.” That’s one of the secrets of the zero waste movement– even the zero waste gurus still recycle. My new goal is to follow in the footsteps of Chantal Plamondon and Jay Sinha at Life Without Plastic. I want to reduce my use of fossil fuel-derived plastics, especially single-use plastics.

  • My primary goal is to eliminate single-use plastic from my waste stream (i.e. plastic utensils, plates, milk containers, soda bottles, Ziplock bags, saran wrap, straws, Capri sun drink boxes, plastic wrapping…the list goes on).
  • My secondary goal is to purchase products in more sustainable packaging, like cardboard, glass, paper, or aluminum.
  • My third goal is to recycle everything I possibly can. This goal has changed. I found myself “wish cycling,” which is worse than recycling. “Wish Cycling” is recycling objects that we HOPE are recyclable but are not. I have stopped recycling PP #5 and #7 plastics. These plastics are technically recyclable, but are not typically recycled at the municipal level. Most recyclable plastics are either PETE #1 and HDPE #2. If you want to recycle other plastics, then you should consult your municipality or seek out a specialty recycler like Terracycle. I recently bought Terracycle’s multipurpose box and I’m happy I did!
  • My third goal is to focus on systemic changes. 100 companies are responsible for 71% of greenhouse gas emissions. Simply put, this problem is bigger than individual actions.


Ziplock Bag Plastic Alternatives

As I’ve noted in previous posts, I believe the term “zero waste” is a misnomer. No one can be completely zero waste. Even if you buy from a bulk store with tarred jars, you still leave packaging waste at the store. This is why I don’t use a trash jar. I remember when I first read about the zero waste movement. I eagerly shopped at Whole Foods assuming I would be able to get everything package free– WRONG. Whole Foods may have a bulk section, but they are very similar to other grocery stores and most products have plastic packaging.

PROGRESS. Not Perfection.

So I’m so excited to post about my latest zero waste switch out! I found a number of ziplock bag alternatives and reusable sandwich bags. I’m a big believer in using what you have before you purchase more, so I used up all of my traditional ziplock bags before I made any new purchases. As a mom who actively packs my kids’ lunches, I’m hoping these reusable sandwich bags will dramatically lower my waste stream.

Reusable Ziplock Bags

Sometimes you need a zero waste easy button! So replacing disposable plastic Ziplock bags with reusable Ziplock bags or reusable sandwich bags is an easy win! One issue I came across was finding an ecofriendly bag that was big enough to fit my daughter’s bento box, a 5-compartment Bento Box (see adult Bento Box here). The Bento Kid’s Lunch Bag fit the bill. What I love about this bag is that it’s washable, easy to store, and quite attractive! Unfortunately, the Lunchskins Gallon Chevron Fabric Bag is no longer available! Thankfully I still have mine. In lieu of this wonderful bag I would recommend a silicone gallon bag (listed below). You can also check out Lunchskins other options! They have some really cool designs food storage and snack bags!

<img fetchpriority=high decoding=async width=735 height=1102 src="zip-lock-bag-alternatives.jpg" alt="Best ziploc ziplock bag alternatives for lunches or snacks reusable bags">
Reusable Freezer Gallon Bags Dishwasher Safe, 6 Pack Reusable Bags Silicone, Extra Thick BPA Free Reusable Food Storage Bags for Marinate Meats, Sandwich, Snack, Cereal, Travel Item
Reusable Silicone Gallon Freezer Bag

RELATED CONTENT: Zero waste juice boxes.

Reusable Sandwich Bags

Eliminating plastic cutlery, cups, plates, and saran wrap was easy. It was much more difficult (and expensive) to eliminate plastic milk containers. I recently wrote about ecofriendly milk options and reusable drink boxes for kid’s lunches. I’m still working on the straws. I am obsessed with these curved reusable glass straws! However, when I go out to eat the waitstaff will (more often than not) place a straw in my cup before I can refuse.

Eliminating Ziplock bags was not as easy as I thought it would be. If you’ve ever packed your child’s lunch you would know that the old fashioned lunch boxes are a thing of the past. Many schools want lunches and snacks packed in easy to store ziplock bags, labeled, and dated. There are times when my kids come home with disposable plastic Ziplock bags and when they do I save them for field trips (if they’re salvageable). However, most of the time we use these Lunchskins snack bags. The Lunchskins reusable bags are great for sandwiches and snacks.

Reusable 2 Piece Zippered Food Storage Bag Set, 1 Sandwich Bag + 1 Snack Bag
2 Piece Zippered Food Storage Bag

RELATED CONTENT: Learn about the biggest disposable plastic producers in the world

Another low waste option, if the above options don’t work for you, is parchment paper or Lunchskins paper bags wax paper bags (sorry this has been discontinued). When I sent my little girl to camp she had her snacks stolen by “ants” or so she thought. I assume another child picked it up. I would much prefer to lose snacks packed in a paper bag, then one of my reusable snack bags. Parchment or paper bags are a great option. They are available on Amazon Subscribe and Save. What I love about these bags is that they’re compostable.

Recyclable & Sealable XL Food Storage Sandwich Bags Stripe, 50 count
Image from Amazon.com

Reusable Freezer Bags

Planet Wise Reusable Clear Zipper Gallon Bag are best for at-home use, such as produce or leftovers. They don’t do as well with liquids. They seem to do well when placed in the dishwasher for cleaning. Thankfully, as of 2024 this item is still being made by Planet Wise! They have a few other options now, including velcro.

<img loading=lazy decoding=async width=349 height=367 src="Planet-Wise-Reusable-Clear-Zipper-Bag.jpg" alt="Best reusable kitchen bags for with zipper kids lunches">
Planet Wise Reusable Clear Zipper Bag

This whole process has been one of discovery! I’m slowly learning what works best for different types of foods. For liquids, I would recommend these reusable silicone food storage bags. Stasher bags work well for liquids such as soups or foods prone to leakage. I would also recommend IDEATECH Reusable Food Storage Bags Trifecta Living bags (sadly Trifecta has been discontinued). They have various sizes and seem to function similar to Ziplock bags. They are dishwasher safe.

IDEATECH Reusable Food Storage 

IDEATECH Reusable Food Storage Bags for Freezer, 20Pack Reusable Freezer Bags-8 Reusable Gallon Bags+6 Reusable Sandwich Bags+6 Reusable Snack Bags, Leakproof BPA Free Reusable Silicone Bags(20 Pack)
IDEATECH Reusable Food Storage 

Stasher Bags

Reusable Snack Bags and Containers

For the last few months, I’ve been putting my daughter’s snacks in either a fabric snack pouch or a wax paper bag.  I recently purchased these cute Stainless Steel Containers with Lids and a Cotton Lunch Bag (I’m so happy it’s still available!) I also love these Boho Reusable Snack Bags, which come with zippers. These are perfect for snacks, especially for wet foods like apple sauce. If you’re wondering about the wooden fork/spoon combo. I originally found it on Etsy, but it’s no longer available there. I found something very similar called Light My Fire Spork!

6 Pcs Boho Reusable Snack Bags and Sandwich Bags Food Safety Washable Lunch Bags Snack Zipper Pouches for Kids Students Adults Food
Boho Reusable Snack Bags

Reusable Lunch Boxes

We still use bento boxes, but we love Leakproof Bento Box and Packit Freezable Classic Lunch Box. The freezer bag keeps the food in her Bento Box cold all day long. The best part is we don’t have to worry about fishing out a freezer pack. The freezer pack is sewn into the bag. I just pop the whole freezer bag directly into the freezer and pull out in the morning.

PackIt Freezable Classic Lunch Box, Tie Dye Sorbet, Built with EcoFreeze Technology, Collapsible, Reusable, Zip Closure With Zip Front Pocket and Buckle Handle, Designed for Lunches
PackIt Freezable Classic Lunch Box

Reusable Labels

Unlike zip lock bags, reusable bags may require their own labels. I have tried various types of erasable and reusable labels, but have found the best ones are from Pumpkin Doodle. ALL the other erasable labels I have used have issues with smearing. As soon as I write on them (no matter what marker I use) it smears and becomes unreadable by the end of the day. The Pumpkin Doodle labels write smooth, are erasable, keep their stickiness, and are dishwasher friendly!

<img loading=lazy decoding=async width=477 height=320 src="bottle-labels_pumpkin-doodle.jpg" alt="Pumpkin Doodle Reusable Erasable Food Labels">

I hope this is helpful to anyone else on your “zero waste” journey. With the elimination of Ziplock bags, I’m one step closer to eliminating single-use plastic from my waste stream.

I hope you’ve enjoyed discussing zero waste milk. If you have any ideas or suggestions, please share with me in the comments or on Instagram

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Alternatives to Ziplock Bags, #Zerowaste, #Lowwaste, #Kids, #lunches, #snacks.


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