Shelf in Kitchen Pantry with Legumes

Food Packaging You Shouldn't Throw Away

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Shelf in Kitchen Pantry with Legumes

Creative Re-Use

This article originally appeared on and was syndicated by

From orange juice and milk cartons to Pringles cans, the average camper creates a lot of trash by eating. In fact, it’s not just campers. Just a simple stroll around the grocery store will tell you that great portions of our landfills are made up of convenience food packaging.

If you're looking for new ideas on how to reduce waste, the secret might be simpler than you think: Don't just throw away those "disposable" packages. Repurpose them into reusable food containers.

Related: 50 Food Storage Tips to Make Your Groceries Last as Long as Possible

Grocery stock, food reserve. Glass Cereal Jars. Zero Waste Shopping. Shop in Bulk. Buying and Storage Food Package free. Reduce packaging waste
Fevziie Ryman/istockphoto

Examples of How to Reduce Waste

One of the easiest ways to reduce waste at home is to recycle the stuff you're already using. And even if you clean and sort every last tin can and water bottle, there's more you can do.

If you want to reduce daily waste, try rethinking whether or not a given object needs to be "wasted," so to speak. You might be surprised at how many purposes you can come up with for simple everyday objects.

Related: Easy RV Hacks: 41 Tips to Improve Your RVing

cabinet closet full of bottle of dried food, preserved food, biscuits , nuts, snack, candy, raw food, flour, cereal
Edwin Tan/istockphoto

How to Reduce Packaging Waste

Wondering how to reuse waste materials and reduce your environmental impact? We're sharing some simple but highly clever ideas you'll be shocked you didn't already think of.

Re-Use an Altoids Tin
Re-Use an Altoids Tin by Breigh Hammarlund (CC BY-NC-ND)

Candy Tins

Constantly chewing on mints or gum that come in those tiny metal tins with hinged lids? Do not, I repeat, DO NOT throw them away! Especially in a cramped RV environment, these little tins are a perfect way to get organized. Think paper clips, rubber bands, twist ties, and more. Say goodbye to that scary, jumbled junk drawer!

Related: 8 Clever Ways to Save Money While Traveling in Your RV

art and craft design kid toys from recycle materials

Ice Cream Cartons

After you're done with your frozen indulgence, get a little crafty to create customized picnic baskets, purses, planters, or treasure boxes for everyone in your family. If you really want to hack the system, keep the kids busy by inviting them to participate in the artsy-craftsy fun. Perfect for a rainy camping day!

Related: 17 Fun DIY Activities to Keep Kids Busy All Summer

Two Red-Whiskered Bulbuls Sitting Together On a Bird Feeder
Surabhi Surendra/istockphoto

Soda Bottles

If you buy soda in two-liter bottles or drink bottled water, think twice before you send those plastic containers to the recycling bin. You'd be surprised how many creative uses you might come up with for them!

Close-up of terrarium planter grown in a glass jar

Jelly Jars

Jellies and jams come in high-quality glass containers with screw-on lids that are perfect for all sorts or repurposing, from the cute succulent planters to simply storing other foods. Whatever you do, don't put them in the trash.

Related: 16 Jam Recipes to Preserve Fresh Fruit Flavors

Leftovers in Plastic Food Containers

Reusable Containers for Food

If you're not one to partake in arts and crafts or repurposing, don't let that stop you from holding onto food packaging. Here's an idea: Use leftover food storage containers… to contain and store other foods!

Related: RV Cleaning, Storage and Maintenance: Must-Have Products

Empty plastic milk bottles, containers and cups. Group of plastic containers. White blank containers on a red background.

Yogurt Containers

If you buy one of those two-pound containers of yogurt, there's no reason to ditch that nice plastic container. It's even got a perfectly-fitting reusable lid! Aside from storing other refrigerated foods in there, you can also repurpose yogurt containers as dry good storage for grains like rice and beans, or even take it out of the kitchen entirely. The possibilities are endless!

Fresh orange juice bottle

Plastic Juice Bottles

The best thing about buying the fancy orange juice and lemonade that come in those nice plastic jugs — you get a reusable, pourable storage container in the bargain. These guys are obviously perfect for other liquids, whether that's cucumber water or sangria, as well as pourable dry goods like cereal or pet food.

Female hand holding cottage cheese in plastic packaging in the supermarket

Grated Cheese Containers

Once you're through with that cheese, don't just toss the container out. You can repurpose these containers for nuts, candy, and other dry goods. Just ditch the wrapper so you can see how much you have left.

Nestlé Coffee-mate Caramel Macchiato creamer bottle

Coffee Creamer Bottles

If you're a java fiend, you've got a steady supply of perfectly pourable storage containers at hand. Coffee creamer bottles can be used to store other liquids, snacks like nuts and candy, or even pre-cracked eggs ready and waiting to be scrambled up for breakfast. Yum!

Related: Instant Coffee Taste Test: 13 Brands Ranked by Our Resident Coffee Snob


Cheap Reusable Food Containers

If you're looking for another great way to be eco-friendly in your RV's kitchen, consider purchasing reusable plastic food containers and simply avoiding the processed foods that come in the packages described above. It's been noted that the healthiest foods are on the perimeter of the grocery store — that's where you’ll find all the fresh produce, meat, and dairy — so by avoiding foods in boxes, bags, and cartons, you can help your own health as well as Mother Earth's.

Joseph Joseph Nest Lock Plastic Food Storage Container Set

Work Smarter, Not Harder

There are plenty of different types and styles of reusable food containers to choose from, but for RVers, we recommend ones that are easily stackable and square or rectangular in shape. These use space in the most efficient manner possible, which will allow you to maximize how much delicious, nutritious food you can store in your RV's small kitchen and refrigerator.

You might also choose glass reusable food containers in order to avoid chemicals that can be present in certain plastics, as well as to avoid staining from foods like tomato sauce or stew.

Food Storage Tips