We lived in Southeast Asia for 10 years, serving in an International School, starting in the early 1990’s. Our luggage weight was limited when we traveled so we had to be careful about each thing we packed. We would not return to the States for three or four years. But we also had to bring items that we knew we could not purchase in our new country.
One of those items we always tried to bring with us were Ziplock bags! These bags will still rather new and as well were expensive since no “knock offs” had yet been manufactured. But they were so good to have in a country with great humidity and lots of tiny ants.
I would purchase one or two boxes of large Ziplocks and a few small ones, take them out of the boxes and lay them down in a suitcase. Then, I would use them very surreptitiously while overseas. My family knew that if they got a Ziplock in their lunchbox, it had to come home with them!
I would then take the dirty, used plastic bag and wash it out in hot, soapy water. I’d hang it up in our kitchen. After it was dry, I would carefully fold it up and put it away to be reused. I never put something in the bag, like raw chicken, because that might contaminate it permanently and I needed to reuse this bag. Those bags would last for years, but would finally start to break down little by little.
Fast foward 10-20 years…one of my daughters was dating a guy and when he came to stay at our home, he was surprised to see Ziplock bags drying around my kitchen. “Why do you rewash Ziplocks?”, he’d ask. I felt kind of sheepish answering him…it seemed like I was so poor or backwards! But then I’d explain how they were “like gold” to us in the past.
Eventually I started to throw out the small Ziplock bags, even though my family would still come in to the kitchen, emptying out their lunch boxes and asking, “Can I throw the bag out or do you want this?”
But the large bags? No way. If they are “clean”, I still wash those things and hang them up to reuse. Why? Can’t I afford more bags? Yes, but those things are perfectly good to use and it just feels wasteful to me to throw them out.
The other day I laughed as I went through the Aldi ad. They now sell reusable “Ziplock” bags! Recycling has caught up with my frugal ways and it’s now “cool” to reuse, rather than throw out.
Hmmm. for once I am ahead of the game.