My husband and I used to get soup from the Chinese take-out across the street almost every week. But we moved last September, and changed our usual mode of eating well before that. So how old are those plastic tubs? A year, more?
They’re still fine: no cracks, stains or signs of damage. Why? A office mate once scolded me for microwave-heating up leftovers in one of them. He was more concerned about chemicals leaching into my food, but I realized that heating these tubs damaged them, ruining them and sending them to the landfill.
Now I also have a few durable, water-tight plastic containers I bought. These should last for years. But I also use the soup containers with one inalterable rule.
Don’t put them in the microwave
We can agree that plastic packing peanuts are best avoided, who actually seeks them out? Indeed, they seek us in the goods we order or gifts we receive.
We get many at work, and they’re not recyclable through the usual waste streams. But shipping companies will sometimes take them and reuse them.
The Plastic Loose Fill Council has a zip code based finder for places that will take packing peanuts, but even in D.C. none were close enough to justify the effort, when work time is considered. (I try only to model behavior a reasonable person would imitate.)
But since I saw the D.C. participants were USP Stores, I called the closest one and even though they weren’t on the list, they gladly accepted them.
A note on my workflow: I test packing peanuts with a drop of water. The still-rare starch-based ones get sticky and dissolve and so I dispose of them in the breakroom sink. best not to mix the kinds in case the plastic reaches an area where they really can be recycled.