Easy alternatives to plastic wrap for an eco-friendly, zero waste kitchen.
Let’s talk about plastic wrap today, shall we? If you’re like most people, you probably have a bright yellow box of plastic wrap in your kitchen drawer. It’s one of those kitchen staples that’s always there for you – and when you start to run low it immediately goes on the shopping list so you won’t ever be caught without it.
What if the next time the plastic wrap container got low, you just never replaced it? Is it possible to live without plastic wrap?
You’ll be surprised how easy it is to skip the plastic wrap since there are so many handy reusable alternatives available! (Full disclosure: I am not a zero-plastic eco-hero. My kitchen drawer usually contains one of those ubiquitous yellow boxes, it just doesn’t get used very often.)
What’s Wrong With Plastic Wrap?
Plastic wrap hasn’t always been in our kitchen drawers. It was invented in the 1940’s by a chemical company (red flag #1) and was originally made with toxic PVC plastic (red flag #2). Plastic wrap is now made primarily of LDPE (low-density polyethylene) which is deemed safe by the FDA but safety concerns about plastic wrap still exist (red flag #3).
Some good reasons to avoid plastic wrap:
- Chemicals in plastic wrap can leach into food
- Migration of chemicals is greater with fatty foods like meats and cheese
- Heat increases chemical transfers (never use plastic wrap in the microwave!)
- Plastic is not biodegradable
- Plastic production creates pollution
- Single-use items add up in landfills (reusable is always better than disposable!)
Zero Waste Alternatives to Plastic Wrap
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It’s odd how we feel like we can’t live without plastic wrap since people survived without it for ages before it was invented. Check out this big list of zero waste swaps for plastic wrap – I bet there’s one or two here that will work for you! Let me know your favs in the comments!
1.) Beeswax Wraps
Beeswax infused cotton creates a pliable cloth that can be molded around food and over bowls. The warmth of your hands softens the beeswax and helps it “stick” but without leaving behind any unwanted residues. Wash beeswax wraps in cold water to use over and over again and simply toss them in the compost at the end of their useful life.
2.) Bowl Covers
Colorful cotton prints with a stretchy elastic edge slide easily over bowls of all shapes and sizes. I love my bowl covers from Anne Riggs because they are made with food-safe laminated cotton that is easy to wash, but you can find bowl covers made with untreated cotton if you prefer.
3.) Silicone Food Bags
Self-sealing, air-tight bags made from durable silicone are a handy way to store both dry or wet food. Silicone bags can be used in the freezer and fridge and are dishwasher safe. I appreciate being able to see what’s in the bag and you can use a dry-erase marker to label contents.
4.) Sandwich Wraps
Instead of grabbing yet another plastic baggie, switch to a reusable sandwich wrap made from washable cotton, durable #4 plastic or beeswax. Unlike those single-use baggies, sandwich wraps can be used over and over again. Bonus: they double as a placemat for lunches on-the-go!
5.) Food Storage Containers
Pop leftovers into food storage containers with lids and there will be no need for plastic wrap. My preference is for storage containers made from glass or stainless steel but durable plastic will work in a pinch.
6.) Silicone Lids
Silicone is a very handy alternative to plastic wrap that is food-safe as well as dishwasher, microwave and freezer safe. Silicone tops can be stretched tightly over bowls and food items. Silicone suction lids create a tight seal on top of bowls.
7.) Reusable Cloth Bags
Reusable bags are great for storing food and come in all shapes and sizes – from the classic reusable snack bag to cloth produce bags to large food storage bags made from food-safe ripstop nylon.
8.) Dishtowels & Dinner Plates
Long before the invention of plastic wrap, food was stored in dishes (a bowl with a plate on top) and wrapped in dishtowels. I keep a set of large flour-sack cloths in my kitchen for all sorts of food-related purposes.
What are your favorite alternatives to plastic wrap? Let us know in the comments!
P.S. Ready to tackle your bathroom next? You’ll find lots of zero waste bathroom swaps here!