Question #1: Can I save that plastic tub my butter, cool whip, etc. came in and reuse it? Yes, always! It is really important that you only use it for what it was intended for though at least when it comes to food. Each company has specific requirements for their plastic. Here’s how it basically goes, “Hey, Joe. I make butter and want to sell it in a plastic container. That container can’t break down from contact with the butter and must have a long shelf life. And must be able to be refrigerated for long periods of time without becoming brittle. Oh and of course FDA approved for food safety. What do you have?” Joe says, “I’ve got this one blend that’s already FDA approved (ie. We already sell it to someone for that.) And then you buy the butter in it’s container. (notice I’m not getting into why stick butter or margarine are better. That’s for another day and not due to plastics.)
The bottom line is that each company pays to have the plastic for the container made to fit their specific product. Really why should they pay for it to be used in the microwave if their product shouldn’t be put in the microwave?
Now when you finish your product you don’t want to just throw the container away. You have two options then: reuse or recycle. Three, I guess. You could reuse it for a while then recycle it. That’s my suggestion. These containers are great for using as scoops like for pet food or sand or even bath toys. Kids love to have different sized items for filling and pouring water, sand or even rice. They make great containers for storing nails, screws, etc. Just be sure to label what’s in it. I hate having to look in several containers to find one thing because I didn’t mark them! I love to use them to store left over paint from a project. Just put a dot of the paint on the top and remember to write what room it was from.
I don’t reuse them for food. If you do, please keep a few rules in mind. One, only use the container the way it was originally meant to be used. If it contained frozen food like ice cream, you can keep using it to freeze things like that extra batch of soup you made for a rainy day. Don’t use it in the microwave. If it was meant to be disposable them it really is best to not reuse it on food. I know lots of people reuse plastic ziploc bags. I have done the washing and drying out and reusing thing myself many times to save money. Turns out it is an unsafe practice. You can’t get it sterilized well enough to kill the bacteria. No matter how hot your water is there are still little crevices that you can’t get into. If you don’t like the waste then please buy a reusable container to store your foods in.