Planet Wise reusable zipper sandwich bag

Today’s review is the next post in my series about removing plastics from my kitchen.

This is not a sponsored post, but any Amazon links below are referral links as I’m an Amazon affiliate. If you make a purchase through any of my Amazon links, I’ll receive a nominal credit toward my own Amazon purchases.

The Planet Wise reusable zipper sandwich bag is made with food-safe EVA; it is free of PVC, BPA, phthalate, latex and lead. EVA stands for Ethylene Vinyl Acetate. I was hesitant to buy this reusable bag at first, but I decided as long as I handwash this bag and since I’m not using it for liquids, it meets my requirements.

I like this Planet Wise bag because the zipper keeps all the food in the bag (hello, grapes), and sandwich bread doesn’t dry out. My son LOVES the camouflage pattern. I still want to think of him as a little preschooler who likes cute owls and smiley faces, but the reality is he’s in elementary school, and he likes trucks and Soldiers.

Besides grapes, we’ve used this reusable bag for sandwiches and tortilla chips. I’ve been washing it by hand, but it is dishwasher safe. I am careful to make sure the bag is open wide when I put it on the dish rack to dry. I don’t want any mold.It’s come in so handy that I’m going to buy another one or two!

You can find the Planet Wise reusable sandwich bag and the snack bag version on Amazon:

If you’re interested in other reusable lunch products, please visit my post on the Stasher, a reusable silicone bag.

Do you use reusable sandwich bags? If so, what’s your favorite brand?
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Stasher reusable silicone bag

I’m working on reducing the amount of plastic we use in our kitchen. I’m particularly concerned with using plastic free school lunch containers, so I bought a silicone storage bag to review. If you’d like to know more about why, please visit my previous post about this.

Today I’m reviewing a reusable, microwavable silicone bag called the Stasher. This is not a sponsored post, but any Amazon links below are referral links since I’m an Amazon affiliate.

The research out there indicates that silicone is safer than plastic, and specifically, it’s heat-safe. One negative is that it CAN hold onto odors. I wash our silicone containers, plates and bowls with unscented dish detergent. That seems to do the trick so far, but we’ve only been using these containers and dishes for a couple of months.

A web search will show you that there are tons of blog posts dealing with removing the smell from silicone. I guess that’s good and bad. Good because people have solutions; bad because it must be a common problem!

Some people use baking soda or vinegar. Others have success just putting the silicone in their ovens for 15 minutes or so there are different things you can try if you’ve discovered your silicone is starting to smell.

Stasher reusable silicone bag:

The Stasher bag currently comes in a snack size, a sandwich size, and a half-gallon size. They’re not cheap. It’s $11.99 for a sandwich bag, but you can use it over and over indefinitely, so eventually it pays for itself since I’m not buying plastic throwaway sandwich bags anymore.

Our Stasher filled with grapes. The green container is a Lifefactory glass container…review coming soon!

There are cheaper silicone bags on Amazon, but I chose Stasher for a couple of specific reasons:

One, silicone needs to be 100% food-grade silicone without fillers; otherwise the silicone could contain plastic fillers, the one thing I’m trying to avoid in the first place. There are nearly a thousand reviews on Amazon of people using Stasher, and many of the reviews mention doing a “pinch” test on the silicone, and that Stasher passes.

Now, I don’t know that the “pinch” test is entirely scientific. Basically, you pinch the silicone, or bend and squeeze it, if you see white, then the silicone has fillers in it.

But even if it’s not a scientific test, the Stasher is sold at Crate & Barrel, the Container Store, Bed Bath and Beyond, Bloomingdales, etc. It’s been reviewed by the Washington Post, Good Housekeeping, the Food Network, and so many more. Because of this, I do have faith this is quality silicone.

Two, the Stasher closes differently than most other silicone bags out there, and it’s easy for my 6 year old to manage. It’s a little difficult to explain, but if you look around at silicone bags on Amazon, you’ll see that most of them have a plastic stick-looking thing that slides over the top of the bag to seal it.

I read reviews saying that type of top was tricky for kids to handle on their own, so these kinds of bags may be better suited for food storage in the home than a school lunch container.

The Stasher closes almost like a throwaway plastic sandwich bag. It’s pinch-lock seal, and my son can open it and close it on his own.

We use the Stasher to send sandwiches and burritos to school. Occasionally I’ll put something like grapes in it. Since many people use Stasher for sous vide, I could probably put things like mac ‘n cheese in it, but I haven’t tried that yet.

The Stasher is microwavable. I explained to my son that first he needs to make sure the bag is opened to allow steam to release, but then he or his teacher can put it in the microwave. The first few times he used it at school, I wrote on it with a dry-erase marker, so his teacher would know that it’s microwavable. I also emailed her about it. We’ve had no issues using the Stasher as a plastic-free school lunch container for us.

Our Stasher with a burrito inside. The green container is a stainless steel container by LunchBots. I’ll be reviewing that one too.

I usually wash the Stasher by hand with unscented dish soap, but it can go through the dishwasher. When my son comes home from school, I immediately rinse the Stasher even if I don’t wash it right away. I think that probably helps keep the silicone from picking up a food scent.

For drying it, I use a spatula to hold the Stasher open to air out, and then I place it upside down overnight in a sink drying rack. I read a review online about a Stasher growing mold inside, but I think as long as you keep it open when it’s wet, that’s not going to happen.

I use a wood or silicone spatula (nothing sharp) to hold open the Stasher while it air drys.

So yeah! We like the Stasher! It’s also available in different colors and patterns, so that’s fun too!

Disclaimers again:

As I said up top, this review is completely independent. I did a lot of online research myself, scrolling through product reviews before I ended up purchasing this item at full price. I recommend this product, but that’s just my opinion, and you may find that this product doesn’t work well for your family. Also, the Amazon links are referral links. That means if you purchase anything through the links, I’ll receive a small amount of money from Amazon. When that happens, I save it all up until I have enough to buy…well, things like silicone bags and glass food containers to review!

Do you use silicone in your kitchen? Do you have any plastic-free products you really love and want to share with us?

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Camping at Assateague Island National Seashore

Since we moved to the DMV (DC, Maryland, Virginia) area several years ago, I’ve wanted to go camping at Assateague Island National Seashore, which is off the Maryland and Virginia coasts. It’s actually about 20 minutes south of Ocean City, Maryland. The island is known for its wild horses, and the book Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry is set there. Did you read the Misty book when you were a kid? I did, and I also read some of the sequels.

I occasionally check the reservation website for open campsites, but the national park campground there is usually booked 6 months ahead of time, so it’s been difficult to get in. Well, about two weeks before the Columbus Day weekend, I just happened to browse the website and found an open campsite for that weekend! It had to have been a cancellation, so I immediately booked the site because I figured it may be my only chance to visit. There is a state park campground there too, but from the reviews I’ve read online, it’s not as nice as the national park.

I, Little J, my sister in law, and one of my nephews ended up camping there together. We had an oceanside campsite. That means we actually camped in the sand right next to the beach. The ocean was just over a sand dune from our tent! There is also a bayside campground at the national park, but I just loved being on the beach.

As soon as we drove off the bridge and onto the island, we saw wild horses! In fact, we did see wild horses every day that they were there, and they even roamed our campsite! That actually turned out to be a problem, so here’s a tip for you. If you see the wild horses sauntering over to your campsite, hide all of your food items in your car, or they will trash your campsite looking for the food. We learned that the hard way. We didn’t leave food out unattended; we were there, but the thing is, you’re not allowed to come within 10? –I think it was 10– feet of the horses, or you risk getting a fine. We were also warned that although they’re not afraid of humans, they are wild. They will kick, and they will bite. So that meant that when the horses walked into our campsite, we backed away from them; that’s all we could do. We just had to wait until they were finished investigating whatever they wanted and left.

The horses are the alphas on Assateague Island!

There are no hot showers on the island, just cold-water showers, which I think would be fine in the summer, maybe even refreshing. Also, the toilets are basically luxury porta potties. I wish I had taken photos. Next time we go there, I’ll take photos and share them in a post. They are a step up from your regular porta potties. They’re up on their own platforms, and they’re very large. There’s room for a stroller or wheelchair to fit inside. I thought they were fairly clean too. There are built in night lights, so you can still see inside them at night.

I read online reviews that the mosquitos were very bad on the island, so we packed a lot of bug spray, but we didn’t really see a lot of bugs. I think it was because we went camping in October, so if you’re camping in the summer, I would recommend you bring repellant just in case especially if you’re going to do any walking near the bayside where there’s a lot of brush and swampy conditions. I did get a few bites at our campsite on the last day. It had rained the night before, so I think that brought the bugs out.

We also had sunblock for the sun since there’s very little shade on the island, especially at the oceanside campground. I think that’s a must for this campground. I have a gazebo with mosquito netting, but because of the wind, I didn’t try to put it up.

So speaking of the wind, I recommend getting extra long stakes or utility stakes for your tent. They should be some kind of stakes that are appropriate for sand. I bought some screw-in utility stakes from Walmart, and they held the tent down even when it was storming. For our 6-person tent, I used 8 stakes.

In spite of the horses trashing our site and my SIL’s car battery dying (yeah, that happened), I loved it. Little J and his cousin just played in the sand all day, digging and looking for sea shells, etc. It was awesome to have all of that available at our campsite.

Shenandoah National Park is still my favorite place to camp, but I think Assateague Island National Seashore is my close second. Like Shenandoah, there is an entrance fee into the park. At the time that we went, the entrance fee was $20 per vehicle for a one-week pass. The annual park pass (Assateague Island only) was $40.

A national park pass for all parks is currently $80, but military families are able to get a free annual pass. All of the fees may change as there is currently a proposal to charge more for high-demand parks like Yellowstone, Shenandoah and Assateague beginning in 2018.

Have you been to the National Seashore?
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