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Ziploc/Glad Containers: Am I expected to return or toss?

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  • Kulfi Jan 27, 2013 10:55 AM
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Had the flu recently, and friends dropped off some food. In the cheaper ziploc or glad plastic containers, not the more expensive Rubbermaid containers. Really appreciate the gesture, but here's my dilemma: should I

1) keep track of who brought which containers, and return them to the rightful owners,

2) toss them, or

3) buy a new set for each friend, so that they are not short of containers?

What would you do?

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  1. Why don't you ask them?

    1. Toss them or reuse them yourself. I thought the whole point of their existence was that you didn't have to worry about retrieving them or giving them back.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Allieroseww

        Same here. I never expect them back so it wouldn't occur to me to ask someone else if they wanted them back.

        1. re: Allieroseww

          Agreed. I use them in giving people food and let them know something along the lines of "oh, and the containers are just the cheapies, I don't need it returned."

          1. re: alliegator

            +1

        2. Tossing them seems wasteful. If you aren't keeping them give them back. I would give them back anyway and let them have the chance to say that they are for you to keep.

          If you then keep them, you can toss but I would mention to your friend that you won't use th and it gives them a chance to save t from the landfill. If you have extra space you can store for the next time you take food to someone and then make a point to say that the container is for them to keep as well.

          1. I would ask them too.

            1. friends who are close enough (or just plain nice enough) are close enough to ask!

              That said what I would do is return them full of something. When I was out for a while and friends did the same I made a huge batch of oatmeal choc. chip cookies and filled the containers with them before returning. I figured it was a nice way to say thank you.

              7 Replies
              1. re: foodieX2

                fX2 - if one is returning that is nice.

                I wouldn't stress over it, but I also wouldn't toss. use it for lunches until it cracks, and then toss (or snap it further and use at the bottom of potted plants for drainage instead of gravel or just recycle - most urban areas allow that grade of plastic)

                1. re: foodieX2

                  I think this is the best response and very kind. When you are well enough, make a big batch of something giveable, like cookies or something else you like to make, and gift back for their kindness.

                  1. re: foodieX2

                    And FX2 wll get many loving neighbors for keeps. It pays to be thoughtful right back.

                    Incidentally, You can make those ziplock containers into spaetzle makers. or mini sieves. Yep. I am a cheapo.

                    1. re: Sal Vanilla

                      wow, I can see how ya could take two and turn them into a spaetzle press (or all sorts of soft dough purposes).

                      1. re: hill food

                        LOL. Ya know I had not thought of making a press with another one. Thank you HF. I get half way there pretty regularly. I use an offset spatula. another bin would be much easier.

                        I drilled holes in the bottom (which was very exciting) then filed the bottom all pretty like.

                        1. re: Sal Vanilla

                          any forum is about the cross-pollination. I'm filing away your idea for future use.

                    2. re: foodieX2

                      That's a great suggestion. I'm definitely stowing that one away for future use.

                    3. I always try to return them --sometimes people say they don't care; sometimes they're thrilled to get them back.

                      I'm another who would use them if my friends didn't want them back.

                      1. Definitely ask if they want the containers back.

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: Kat

                          I disagree. Asking whether or not they want obviously cheap containers returned puts them potentially in an uncomfortable position. I'd probably buy a pack of new containers, and give each of your generous friends a new container filled with cookies or candies. Homemade chocolate chip cookies sounds like a winner to me.

                          1. re: josephnl

                            how is "do you want your container back" an uncomfortable position?

                            These are friends who care enough to have brought soup...I can't imagine how one could be offended with a simple question -- a yes/no question, at that.

                            1. re: sunshine842

                              I could see how some people might be embarrassed to ask a friend to return an item that costs 50 cents. I mean, I guess it really depends on how good a friend the person is and how often (and where) you see them, but the hassle of returning the items certainly doesn't seem worth the cost of the item.

                            2. re: josephnl

                              I can't imagine how the question could be potentially uncomfortable.

                              I would ask. Some people get attached to certain items, even if the item is made to be disposable. Plus I am a big believer in reuse.

                              OP- if you are simply unsure which container belongs to who - just fess up! You were sick. It's hard to keep track of that sort of thing in the best of times. No one will be hurt that you can't play "name that container"!

                              1. re: meatn3

                                Yep. And if you don't want to ask them which is theirs, just give them a choice of containers when they come over (they prob know theirs) or guess. I sometimes get a container that is not mine and I usually do the wrong thing and say "SCORE" and keep it. Someone else in my little town is pissed that their sandwich sized tupperware is MIA. Hardee harrrr!

                          2. I doubt the senders expect them to be returned (I don't, that's why I use them in the first place). However, if you want to show a little gratitude then buying a new package of the same containers for them would be a nice gesture.

                            1. They are reusable. I would wash them with a sanitizing cycle, because of the flu, but even so I think offering a new set of identical containers would be a nicer gesture than returning them.

                              1. I would offer to buy them a new set of whichever shape they gave you, but I agree that most if not all will tell you not to bother.

                                1. I use these frequently for transporting food to friends and family (gifts or events) and I always forget to tell them to keep it because I'm usually focused on the reason for the event. I always let people who call and ask know that it is theirs to use however they wish, but I always appreciate being asked. I use the free address labels I get in the mail for the things I want to keep track of. I have had my favorite plastic serving spoon for 16 years because of them.

                                  1. In our circle, there are a few reusable containers that keep making the rounds, because everyone gives them back....eventually...we had one dish that made it to a couple of houses before making its way home (oh, this is Janet's dish -- give it to her when you see her next week)

                                    While we all use those containers because it's no biggie if we *don't* get them back, there are those who *do* want them back.

                                    It's so simple to just ask!

                                    1. My parents have been in a similar situation. Mom and Dad have a stack of "visiting" containers on top of their fridge, and when friends visit, are asked to check for their own containers.
                                      I do not expect to receive "my" containers back, except from people for whom I regularly cook.
                                      But PLEASE don't toss the containers! If you don't want them, and your friends don't either, then please donate to a youth shelter or hunger relief organization. At my community meal program, we are always looking for clean containers, in which to send home food for people in need.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: KarenDW

                                        Two great ideas here!

                                        1. re: KarenDW

                                          That's a great idea Karen. It's a good way to go green.

                                        2. You know I have always looked at the inexpensive Glad and Ziplock containers as a limited life item... a couple of months of use and they are done for. Usually it is the top that cracks first, but I don't expect them to last very long no matter what.

                                          If I drop off food in one to someone who is sick or has a new baby the last thing I expect is that they will return the container.

                                          If they want to return them that is fine, but I wouldn't think any less of someone who doesn't, after all, they cost about 25 cents a piece at Costco or Smart & Final!

                                          However, I do expect to get my Le Creuset and Calphalon back <G>

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: svnirvana

                                            I totally agree with this. The hassle of remembering to bring the container with you the next time you see your friend -- not to mention the hassle for your friend of having to carry it home from wherever you are meeting -- just seems out of line for the cost of the thing.

                                            I totally get not wanting to waste it, and if you happen to be going over to your friend's house it doesn't seem too inconvenient to bring back their container. But I certainly wouldn't worry about it.

                                          2. I would disinfect!

                                            1. I would reuse them. They are perfectly good containers

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: GIOny

                                                I have been reusing my ziplock containers (the boxy things) for YEARS. And they go thru the dishwasher just fine. I don't microwave in them.

                                                1. re: Sal Vanilla

                                                  Same here. I typically don't buy them for myself, but I hold onto them & reuse when I receive them from others. I've got one that is at least 6 years old (has to be because it originally contained home-made candy from my MIL, who passed away more than 5 yrs ago).

                                              2. I'd send out emailed tyous or make calls that you're on the mend and appreciative of their kindness and then ask if anyone actually wanted their containers back. But if you ever run across thing again, ask immediately as your kind friends are handing you the food. Saves a lot of time and wonder.

                                                Always best to ask.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: HillJ

                                                  Usually if I'm sending food to someone, I'll tell them if they want a re-fill, send it back. Or, they can keep - doesn't really matter to me. But yes, why don't you just ask them?

                                                2. I doubt that your friends expect you to return them. Do reuse them, rather than just throwing out perfectly good containers. Or, if you don't want to use them for regular storage, set them aside for "paying it forward," when you are providing food to a friend or neighbor -- whether when you are dropping off food or just to share leftovers with a dinner guest. (No need to "sanitize" or "disinfect" them anymore than you would sanitize any other container or dish. Just wash them on the top shelf of your DW or in warm soapy water by hand.)

                                                  1. i use the cheap containers to give away food, that way I'm not bothered if they don't come back to me... some do, some don't no big deal. :)

                                                    1. I generally only buy Ziplock plastic containers (I can't justify why, just a habit), so I never view them as the 'cheaper' ones and I would never dream of tossing them (mine survive all sorts of dish washing and microwaving for ages...they last just fine).

                                                      However, I also don't give edible gifts in any container I'd feel bad parting with, so no one would ever be given my ziplocks.

                                                      If I were in your shoes I'd note down who gave which and return them, but the suggestion of asking if they want them back is equally good (saves you a trip if they don't).

                                                      1. Really the simplistic thing is to call/write thanking the person again for their gift. Mention you can return the container at your next get together. They will respond "great" or "keep it, I don't need it".
                                                        Easy peasy!

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: meatn3

                                                          that's way too simple, man.....

                                                        2. OK, thanks for your responses.

                                                          It would surprise me if good friends asked me if I wanted my Glad/ Ziploc containers back. It would not matter to me either way. I would put the food in something like Pyrex portables if I clearly wanted them back.

                                                          At this point I don't remember who brought what, not surprising considering I had the flu.

                                                          I doubt I'm going to lose friendships over this, but I guess what I was really asking is "Are these considered disposable?" No real consensus on this.

                                                          8 Replies
                                                          1. re: Kulfi

                                                            I don't consider these types of containers disposable in the way, say, paper napkins or plates are. That is they are certainly good for more than one use. I think of them as short-term items--if they get lost, given away, or tomato-stained, so what?

                                                            1. re: iluvcookies

                                                              Similar to this. I don't consider them disposable after a single use or a few uses, certainly not on the level of a napkin or paper plate. They're good because they're light and durable, but not so terribly expensive that I'll feel bad if they get lost or blemished. I don't toss them unless they get damaged to the point that they leak.

                                                              1. re: Tovflu

                                                                yes, if it can be re-used it ought to be. but I won't lose sleep over it when it does go the way of all things.

                                                            2. re: Kulfi

                                                              not disposable. Just not valuable enough to "track", in my life. If I want a container returned, I write my name on the bottom with a permanent marker.

                                                              1. re: KarenDW

                                                                I do too. I saw on pinterest that someone etched their name in the bottom of their pyrex. Nifty swifty. I am only capable of sharpying.

                                                                1. re: Sal Vanilla

                                                                  There's no way I'd etch Pyrex -- you're setting yourself up for a shatter sooner rather than later.

                                                                  You can Sharpy (is that a verb?!) Pyrex -- it does come off when you wash it, which is nice for use, but bad if the loanee washes your name off when they wash the dish....

                                                              2. re: Kulfi

                                                                They are designed to be reusable for a few times, then recycled.

                                                                1. re: GH1618

                                                                  I have been using the same glad/ziploc etc. ware for years and all of it was hand me down at the time I got it. While I wouldn't be upset if someone list it etc. I would be fairly annoyed if some tossed it out over returning it.

                                                                  The only kind I have purged were the ones that had the red top and were from presliced lunch meat which my fiancé used to buy before we met. They all work as well as originally bought and some seal better than my actual Tupperware.

                                                                  The ads seem to say that they are designed to be used repeatedly but if you lose it no big deal because it isn't as costly as other products. Where do you get your information?

                                                              3. I don't expect Zip locks ever to be returned but Glad containers if they are the expensive ones I put my name on each lid and container and make a point of telling whoever I 'loan' them to that I want them back. It works most of the time.

                                                                1. I'm still stumped why Tupperware (the grandparent of reusable plastic ware) has never opened a retail store.

                                                                  beats the heck out of me. who has the time or interest in attending 'a party' about it?

                                                                  if I had some good Tupper, yes I would want it back, that stuff is in the permanent collection of the Cooper-Hewitt branch of the Smithsonian after all. Glad, Ziplock et al, yeah, no love lost.

                                                                  7 Replies
                                                                  1. re: hill food

                                                                    I ordered my Tupperware online. No need to go to a party.

                                                                    1. re: Sooeygun

                                                                      I still like to touch something before buying it, guess I'm old-school that way. why a retail giant that prides itself on good (ok that can mean many things) design like Target hasn't made a deal with T-ware is curious.

                                                                    2. re: hill food

                                                                      I've seen a few (very few) kiosks at the mall selling tupperware, but I imagine they are rented by some enterprising tupperware salesperson or local group, not the "Mother company"

                                                                      I'm with you, tupperware stays home or marked when food is given away.

                                                                      1. re: hill food

                                                                        Tupperware has mall kiosk/carts.

                                                                        1. re: melpy

                                                                          well that explains my unawareness. if I must enter a mall, it is in and out through the nearest exit possible. I'm not a snob, just claustrophobic.

                                                                        2. re: hill food

                                                                          I haven't been to a Tupperware party in years but I would much rather be invited to a Tupperware party then another jewelry party!

                                                                          1. re: GIOny

                                                                            Me too..those jewelry parties are awful! I still use tupperware but just order it online now.

                                                                        3. Return the containers. In the unwritten laws of accepting food in an emergency or family crisis, the donors should have marked their containers with their last names.

                                                                          If they didn't, you will have to ask your friends what containers they brought. You just have to do the best you can to find the owners, but if they didn't mark their containers, it would be understandable if the containers don't find all find their way back to their owners.

                                                                          Its nice that your friends took such good care of you when you were sick.

                                                                          1. I've always thought they are meant to be returned, which I do. I have also been told you must not return an empty container, hence my returns always has something (whether store bought or home made)

                                                                            1. If given to me by family, I don't return them because everything in my family kind of belongs to everyone else in my family.

                                                                              However, before I leave a friends house I usually ask her/him if they'd like the containers back. I say something indirect like, "Oh thank you for the container. This is so much easier to take home. Will you be home later this week so I can return it."

                                                                              If you don't feel like returning them at least recycle them.

                                                                              You have great friends, hope you feel better. Umm, can they drop off soup to me?

                                                                              1. If you are not sure..it is best to return them. I too follow the rule that no container should ever be returned empty.

                                                                                That said, I keep a supply of cheap containers that I can use to send food home with people. I am always very clear that I do not need the container back.