by Laura McIlwaine September 03, 2018 1 Comment

Plastic zip lock (or snap lock) bags are a common item in school lunchboxes. It’s not surprising then, they’re a common item in the school yard and school waste bins!

They’re so common, in fact, that a recent survey by KESAB found 165 waste plastic ziplock bags/school/day which equates to 32 900 plastic zip lock bags / school / year, or around $1 974 of ziplock bags per site each year!1

That’s a lot of unnecessary plastic waste!

In this post I’ll share three sustainable alternatives to plastic zip lock bags.

What Are Zip Lock Bags?

Zip lock bags are reusable, re-sealable plastic zipper storage bags that allow the user to close the bag using a press seal. They’re popular in school lunchboxes to carry sandwiches, biscuits and cakes, chips and even cut fruit, but they have a multitude of other uses too. Just last week I assisted as a parent helper on my son’s school excursion where every child was asked to bring their money along in a plastic zip lock bag.

When Were Zip Lock Bags Invented?

The original ‘Ziploc’ plastic snap lock bag was developed and marketed by The Dow Chemical Company in 1968 and is now produced by S. S. Johnson & Son. Many copy-cat brands have launched similar products since using product names such as click zip, snap seal, snap lock and resealable sandwich bags.

Zip lock bags are so handy and popular you could be forgiven for wondering how you could survive without them! But survive you can!

Alternatives to Plastic Zip Lock Bags

So you’re trying to reduce your plastic waste and are keen to ditch the plastic zip-lock bag? Great!

Here’s three sustainable alternatives to get you started

1. Compostable Zip Lock Bags

If you find the thought of breaking up with plastic snap-lock bags overwhelming, the first step might be to switch for a compostable alternative.

Biobag Compostable Resealable Food Storage Bags are made using sustainably-sources plant starch. They compost in a matter of weeks in a well-functioning composting environment, yet they look and work exactly the same as their plastic zip lock bag cousins.

2. Reusable Snack Pockets

If you’re ready to take it a step further and go the reusable route, you can’t go past 4MyEarth Reusable Snack Pockets. They’re perfect for muffins, slices, nuts, biscuits, carrot sticks, cut up fruit and more!

Designed to last for years, the Snack Pockets come in a range of on-trend designs and are machine and dishwasher safe, but can also be easily hand washed in the kitchen sink and left in the dish rack to dry.

3. Bento Lunchboxes

The Japanese were onto a winner when they invented Bento boxes and lunchbox companies have jumped on to this trend in recent years to encourage healthy eating and portion control. 

Bento-style lunchboxes like Yumbox Leakproof Lunchboxes enable a variety of foods to be included in a lunchbox, without the need for plastic or foil wrap. The leakproof feature is a win for kids who love yoghurts, fruit purees and dips, but hate soggy crackers or having to juggle an extra container.

Final Thoughts

It’s surprisingly simple to break up with the plastic zip lock bag. By switching to compostable bags, reusable snack pockets or Bento Lunchboxes, you’ll help create a more sustainable future for all.

Already broken up with plastic zip-lock bags? Share what change you’ve made in the comments below!


To kick-start your plastic free life, click HERE to join our 5-day Plastic Free Challenge (it's FREE!).

5 day Plastic Free Challenge


About the Author:

Laura Trotta is an experienced environmental engineer, award-winning sustainable living educator and the founder of Sustainahome. She’s dedicated over two decades of her life to the sustainability cause and her personal mission in life is to make green mainstream.

A passionate believer in addressing the small things to achieve big change, and protecting the planet in practical ways, Laura lives with her husband and two sons in Adelaide, South Australia.


1 Keep South Australia Beautiful (KESAB), Wipe Out Waste- Bin Materials Audit Report- Average for R-12 School sites in SA (n=31) Dec 2016

Laura McIlwaine
Laura McIlwaine

1 Response

Airlie Morris
Airlie Morris

September 12, 2018

Thanks for the tip on the compostable equivalents Laura. We don’t buy plastic zip locks anymore but sure as hell still amass them (I order a lot of things online and they are used a lot by the senders). Have to say when they do come into the house we use them to death, I wash and re-use until they fall apart, they are so damn convenient! Then I put them in the plastic bag recycling for Red Circle collection at Coles/Woollies (where I hope they do collected and turned into playground equipment etc).
School excursions can be problematic as they are often asked to bring a lunch with throw away wrappers. We tend to just make a lunch that can be put in a paper bag (ie a piece of fruit, a very compact biccie and a roll with nothing in it that can “get out”).
The beauty of trying to live in a low-environmental impact manner is that you are always working out solutions to these daily conundrums!
Thanks again, love to see your posts in my in box.

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.

Stay In the Loop!