Yes, You Can Wash and Reuse Ziploc Bags—Sometimes

belchonock/iStock via Getty Images
belchonock/iStock via Getty Images

From K-cups to bubble wrap, many products billed as being disposable are actually reusable. But when it comes to Ziploc bags and other plastic baggies with resealable openings, their longevity beyond your desk lunch isn't always clear. According to The Takeout, you can save money and reduce waste by washing and reusing plastic Ziplocs in some cases, but in others, using the plastic bag more than once can get you sick.

When deciding whether or not to keep a used Ziploc in your kitchen, think about what you used it for in the first place. If it was used to store or marinade raw meat, eggs, or seafood, you should toss it in the trash. These products can contain dangerous pathogens in their uncooked state, and no matter how well you scrub the bag afterwards, there's no way to be sure you sanitized the bag completely.

If you filled the bag with products that are safe to eat and touch as they are—like baked goods, clean produce, sandwiches, etc.—it should be safe to use a second time. This rule doesn't apply to bags that have holes, tears, or look worn out in general.

For used bags that held safe foods and are still in good shape, Ziploc recommends hand-washing them and drying them thoroughly. Once they're clean, they're about as safe to eat out of as a reused plastic container. If you want to reuse the bag multiple times, just be aware that most sealable bags are made to be disposed of eventually, and it will likely develop wear and tear.

Another eco-friendly way to store food is to avoid lightweight plastic products altogether. Here are some reusable products that make packing lunch easy.

[h/t The Takeout]

Friday’s Best Amazon Deals Include Digital Projectors, Ugly Christmas Sweaters, and Speakers

Amazon
Amazon
As a recurring feature, our team combs the web and shares some amazing Amazon deals we’ve turned up. Here’s what caught our eye today, December 4. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers, including Amazon, and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Good luck deal hunting!

Google Is Tracking Everything You Do With Its ‘Smart’ Features—Here’s How to Make That Stop

Maybe you don't want Google seeing how many exclamation points you use in your emails.
Maybe you don't want Google seeing how many exclamation points you use in your emails.
Taryn Elliott, Pexels

Since we don’t all have personal assistants to draft emails and update our calendars, Google has tried to fill the void with ‘smart’ features across Gmail, Google Chat, and Google Meet. These automatic processes cover everything from email filtering and predictive text to notifications about upcoming bills and travel itineraries. But such personalized assistance requires a certain amount of personal data.

For example, to suggest email replies that match what you’d choose to write on your own—or remind you about important emails you’ve yet to reply to—Google needs to know quite a bit about how you write and what you consider important. And that involves tracking your actions when using Google services.

For some people, Google’s helpful hints might save enough time and energy to justify giving up full privacy. If you’re not one of them, here’s how to disable the ‘smart’ features.

As Simplemost explains, first open Gmail and click the gear icon (settings) in the upper right corner of the page. Select ‘See all settings,’ which should default to the ‘General’ tab. Next to ‘Smart Compose,’ ‘Smart Compose personalization,’ and ‘Smart Reply,’ choose the ‘Off’ options. Next to ‘Nudges,’ uncheck both boxes (which will stop suggestions about what emails you should answer or follow up on). Then, switch from the ‘General’ tab to ‘Inbox’ and scroll down to ‘Importance markers.’ Choose ‘No markers’ and ‘Don’t use my past actions to predict which messages are important.’

Seeing these settings might make you wonder what other information you’ve unwittingly given Google access to. Fortunately, there’s a pretty easy way to customize it. If you open the ‘Accounts’ tab (beside ‘Inbox’) and choose ‘Google Account settings,’ there’s an option to ‘Take the Privacy Checkup.’ That service will walk you through all the privacy settings, including activity tracking on Google sites, ad personalization, and more.

[h/t Simplemost]