Well Being

Keeping Food Fresh–Without Plastic

Everyone has a plastic cling wrap story, and none of them are good. From slicing a finger on the box’s serrated edge to battling a sheet that wants to stick to everything BUT your plate of leftover spaghetti, interactions with this over-used food saver tend to result in nothing but frustration.

And while plastic sandwich baggies are less annoying to use, they still fall into the same category as their cling wrap cousins: single-use plastic material that quickly ends up in the garbage can.

Luckily, these short-lived products aren’t our only choices for wrapping up our sandwich or saving our salad. With the recent advent of a number of food-wrap alternatives, the ubiquity of these plastic products may be waning.

Wax on, wax off

I was skeptical of the beeswax-infused cloth covers – until I gave them a try. Just drape these Etee brand waxy cotton cloth sheets (they come in a variety of sizes) over a bowl, around an open block of cheese, or around a handful of strawberries. The warmth of your hands softens the wax just enough for the cloth to stick to itself – and not in an exasperating, plastic-wrap kind of way. Pop your covered food into the fridge and the cloth holds tight until you loosen it. Clean-up is easy – just rinse with water (make sure it’s cold!). A Google search reveals many different brands, sizes and styles. A few folks on Etsy even sell DYI kits so you can make your own.

A less expensive alternative to plastic cling wrap are shower cap-style bowl covers. Sure, they’re still plastic, but you can reuse them repeatedly after a quick rinse in soapy water. The Vermont Country Store offers a set of eight vinyl, elastic-edged “caps” for less than $10. Less expensive versions can be found at the grocery store: CoverMate offers 10 thinner plastic covers in a variety pack of sizes for less than $4. These can be reused as well.

Aluminum foil works just as well – in many cases better – than plastic wrap, and can often be used more than once if it’s used to contain non-messy foods. In some areas, you may even be able to recycle it.

Lunch game: elevated

There are so many alternatives to plastic sandwich baggies that there’s really no excuse not to clean up your school or work lunch game. Garnet Hill sells cute sandwich and snack bags with Velcro closures made from recycled plastic bottles for $14.95. Whole Foods and Amazon offer reusable (and dishwasher safe!) cloth LunchSkins that can reportedly be reused 500 times. They’re moisture-proof and BPA-free and hold sandwiches, snacks, fruit – and even dog treats! One sells for $6.99.

Hardier metal containers are everywhere – many with bento box-style dividers so an entire lunch can be packed inside one container. I’ve had a nesting trio set from U Konserve for so long, the containers still bear the company’s former name – Kid Konserve. The containers are still in tip top shape after more than a decade of use, and I even put the plastic lids in the dishwasher (I won’t tell if you won’t).

If you just can’t get surrender the convenience of disposable sandwich baggies (or you still have a boxful that you’d like to use up), consider washing them after use. Sure, it’s a little time consuming and you end up with wet baggies drying all over the kitchen, but a little effort can double or triple the life of packaging otherwise destined for the landfill.

Image used with permission from TabithaEveCo.