My life without plastic wrap
As a family trying to live a healthier and more eco-friendly life, one of our new years’s resolutions was to give up plastic wrap.
Once the last roll was used up after Christmas, I made the decision not to purchase a new roll. We had to start getting creative and finding alternatives! Six months on, we are doing just great without it and really wonder why we ever needed it!
Today, I am going to tell you some reasons why we gave it up and what we use instead.
Why give up plastic wrap?
♥ Eco concerns
Rebecca, eco warrior and mum, from 4 My Earth posted this on Facebook one day and it really hit home!
“We have worked out a rough guide as to how much a child would use in plastic wrap based on a sandwich, muffin and nuts/sultanas in their lunch bag each day for a year. We worked it out to be 105 metres of plastic wrap that would be dumped into our ever-increasing landfill. Times this by a small school of 450 students and it comes to a massive 47 250 metres per year!”
Plastic wrap cannot be recycled and is almost impossible to reuse. It takes hundreds of years to break down and once it ends up in landfill, it can be very damaging to our wildlife.
♥ Health concerns
Choice Australia tells us that “plastic can contain smaller molecule that are free to migrate into the food it’s in contact with. The plastic can slowly breakdown, releasing monomer.
• PVC (used to make bottles, cling wrap and the seals for screw-cap jars) contains added chemicals known as plasticisers. On its own, PVC is hard and rigid (it’s used to make drains, guttering and downpipes), so plasticisers are added to make it soft and flexible – in much the same way water added to clay makes it soft. Plasticisers can make up as much as 40% of the plastic material. Phthalates and DEHA (di-(2-ethyhexyl)adipate) are often added as plasticisers to the PVC that’s used for food packaging; again, recent research raises doubts about the safety of these compounds.
Phthalates are endocrine disruptors, meaning they can mimic the body’s natural hormones and thereby cause a raft of health problems. Infants and the very young are most vulnerable to exposure because of their lower body weight and because their growth and development are strongly influenced by hormones; the effects on health can be lifelong. These effects have been seen clearly and consistently in experiments with animals and when people or wildlife have been accidentally exposed to high levels of endocrine disruptors.
While these compounds are undoubtedly hazardous at high levels of exposure, scientific opinion is divided over the risk from the much lower levels that we’re exposed to every day in our food. There is, however, growing scientific evidence that even at these lower levels of exposure, phthalates may be causing problems such as infertility, obesity, breast cancer, prostate cancer, heart disease and diabetes.“
What to use instead of plastic wrap?
We use a range of things, depending on the food and if it is for transport, for the fridge or for the freezer. Here are some of them:
♥ Food Covers. I invested in a few sets of re-usable food covers from 4 My Earth. We use them to cover bowls and plates of leftovers but they also go over things like cut watermelon and pumpkin. They are very easy to wash in the sink or in the washing machine and they last for years and years.
♥ Food Wraps and Pockets. Also from 4 My Earth, we purchased several food wraps and pockets (some in plain for the teenager!). The re-usable food wraps are great to wrap up sandwiches or slices of quiche. The re-usable food pockets are great for muffins and slices, nuts, dried fruit or grapes. They also come in handy for storing things in the fridge like cheese.
♥ Food bags. If you haven’t worked it out yet, I am a a huge fan of the 4 My Earth products!! The food bags come in large and small and I use them for cheese, bread, pretty much anything really.
But where they really come into in their own and solved a huge problem for me was for meat storage. You can take them along to the butcher and get your meat straight into the food bags and then when you get home, just push as much air as you can out of them, zip up and pop in the freezer. Defrost with a bowl under and then wash the bags in the washing machine. Get the food bags here.
The other way I freeze meat when I have run out of bags is to tightly wrap in the non-toxic baking paper and then pop into a glass storage container.
♥ Glass containers. I bought a set of Pyrex glass storage containers and they do they job but the plastic lid does crack and break over time. Unfortunately you can’t buy replacement lids in Australia. I use my food covers over the container. The food rarely touches the lid, so I don’t worry about the plastic in that. These are great for the fridge or the freezer. Next time though, I would get a Glasslock set.
♥ Glass Jars. Although there is sometimes plastic in the lids of jars, if it doesn’t touch the food, I don’t panic too much. We re-use glass jars for all sorts of things – including leftovers, bliss balls, soup and broth. They go well in the fridge and the freezer. Here is a post I did explaining a bit more about it. Goodbye Plastic, Hello Glass!
♥ Paper products. We love the If You Care range of safe paper products. They come in handy for a range of things but they are usually a last resort!
♥ Plates. Quite often we just use a plate on top of a bowl as shown in the photo! You can also store fruit like melon and pineapple, cut side down on plates. You can’t get much simpler than this!
♥ Stainless Steel Containers. I got this ‘tiffin’ for my husband to use as a lunchbox to take to work. It’s also good for storing things in the fridge (but you have to remember what you put in there!). Check out Biome Eco Store for a huge range of stainless steel containers as well.
Other things you might like to try:
♥ Beeswax Wraps. These wraps work similar to plastic wrap and keep product very fresh. They are also fully bio-degradable which makes them the perfect alternative. Using the warmth of your hands, these wraps will wrap produce tightly and seal in on itself. The beeswax can break off over time with use, but you can simply refresh them in the oven on a low heat to redistribute the wax.
Check out the beeswax (and vegan) wraps.
♥ Silicone Wraps. These are fairly new to the market and I have heard mixed reports. I am more than happy with my 4 My Earth products and they have lasted years so I haven’t been motivated to try these! They are made of silicone and can replace baking paper, cling wrap and alfoil. They don’t contain any BPA, PVC or lead and can be washed and reused.
Find out more about the silicone wraps here.
If you want to go cold turkey on the plastic wrap like we did, get yourself prepared and invest in a few alternatives first. It took a bit of getting used to and changing our habits, but we did it. I am really happy that we don’t buy this product any more. It’s one small step to help the environment and improve our health.
(ends 13th May 2018)
I hope these tips for alternatives to plastic wrap have been useful. Let me know what you use and how it works for you.
You might also like to read:
How to store fruit and vegetables without using plastic