How to Store Produce Without Plastic

It’s not impossible to store produce without plastic. In fact, it’s probably healthier.


Jan. 22 2019, Updated 1:24 p.m. ET

store produce without plastic
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It’s not impossible to store produce without plastic. In fact, it’s probably healthier.

Plastic leaching is a real problem when it comes to our food. The toxic chemicals within plastic (think parabens and other nasty stuff that contributes to health issues like cancer and infertility) leach from our plastic containers and wrap and seep into our food. In turn, it makes its way into our bodies. Yuck! 

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Not to mention, plastic is not a sustainable or eco-friendly material. By eliminating all kinds of plastic — especially single-use plastic — from our kitchens and everyday lives, we cut back our carbon footprints, as well as reduce our exposure to harmful toxins.

If you’ve begun the journey of buying sustainably — also known as buying without single-use plastic — then you may be wondering how you are supposed to store produce. Traditionally, people buy the plastic-wrapped groceries from the store, then throw it in the drawers of the refrigerator until it’s time to use it. Then, you cut off the plastic and use your produce accordingly. But there’s a way to do it that eliminates plastic altogether

Keep reading to find out more about storing produce without plastic!

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How to Store Vegetables Without Plastic

First, try to buy your vegetables without plastic or rubber bands. You can do this by using cotton mesh bags with tare weights on them, which are reusable and sustainable. If you can’t avoid buying vegetables without plastic, then make sure to unwrap the veggies from the plastic and remove any binding bands before the storage process.

  • Airtight container, sealed, with light moisture: Artichokes, basil (with a damp piece of paper left on a cool counter), beet greens, loose Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, fava beans, greens, beets, arugula, carrots, green garlic, herbs, lettuce, parsnips
  • Glass bowl, upright at room temperature outside of a fridge for a week: Asparagus
  • Open container in the fridge: broccoli, beans, corn, radishes (but remove the greens and place a wet towel on top), rhubarb (wrap with a wet towel), snap peas, turnips (remove greens, cover with wet cloth)
  • Paper bag at room temperature: avocados (with an apple to ripen quicker)
  • Left out on a cool counter: cabbage, celery (place in bowl of shallow water), eggplant, fennel (place in a bowl of shallow water), leeks (place stem in a shallow bowl of water), summer squash, sweet peppers (wash right before eating), tomatoes (paper bag with an apple to ripen quicker), cucumber (if eaten without two days, if not, then wrap in a moist towel and store in the fridge)
  • Cool dark place: garlic, onion, potatoes (or in a paper bag), rutabagas, sweet potatoes, winter squash, zucchini 
  • Open container in the crisper: broccoli rabe, spinach
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    How to Store Fruits Without Plastic

    The biggest threat to storing plastic without fruit is moisture, as it contributes to mold. For this reason, you’ll want to remember that fruits like berries and cherries don’t do well stacked on top of each other. When storing them, you’ll want to limit how many berries and cherries are stacked on top of each other. The more space they have between them, the better (and longer) these fruits will fare.

  • Cool counter: apples, apricots, Deglet Noor dates, nectarines, peaches, pears, pomegranate
  • Cardboard box in the fridge: apples
  • Airtight container in the fridge: cherries (don’t wash until ready to eat)
  • Cool place: citrus, melons (uncut) 
  • Paper bag: berries (don’t wash until ready to eat), Medjool dates, figs (or on a plate in the fridge), strawberries
  • Open container in the fridge: cut melons
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