Alternatives to Plastic Wrap
By Adam Verwymeren, Networx
Plastic wrap: it’s ubiquitous, convenient and horrible for the environment. Usually made from the petroleum-based plastic LDPE, cling wrap doesn’t decompose quickly and will be clogging up landfills for generations. If you’re looking for a more environmentally friendly option, consider some of these alternatives.
Rather than reach for the plastic wrap, ask yourself, “Can I seal this up in a reusable plastic container instead?” Often the solution is a simple as a piece of Tupperware or Pyrex, rather than a single-use piece of Saran wrap.
Bioplastics are plastic-like materials made from plants like corn or soy. Cellophane, invented in the early 1900s, is the original bioplastic. The “cell” in cellophane stands for cellulose, a natural fiber derived from plants, making the substance entirely biodegradable. Despite its eco-advantage, Cellophane, the crinkly, crackly cousin to plastic wrap, does a poor job adhering to surfaces, limitings its use as an alternative.
However, bioplastics have taken off in the last decade as consumers clamor for more eco-friendly alternatives to petroleum based bags and plastic wrap. PrideGreen, for instance, has a line of sandwich bags that they say will decompose in a landfill in under two years.
While disposable cling wrap is certainly convenient, sometimes reusable options can be just as efficient.
Using a cotton and hemp-based fabric coated in sticky beeswax on one side, Abeego’s line of reusable food storage wraps are an inventive and attractive alternative to plastic wrap. Whether you want to wrap up a sandwich, a half of a cucumber or a bowl of soup, Abeego’s reusable wrappers have got you covered.
Reusable silicon bowl covers are another great, green way to quickly put a lid on things. And for a thriftier alternative, you could always just snap a shower cap around the bowl.
Consumers love plastic wrap in part because it can handle nearly any task thrown at it. While its versatility is unquestionable, consumers should consider a few food-specific alternatives that are both more eco-friendly, and do a much better job of keeping their food fresh.
After cutting open the packaging on a big block of cheese, most people reach for the plastic wrap to keep the rest fresh in the fridge. But a good cheesemonger will tell you that you should never store your cheese in plastic wrap. Cheese needs to breathe to stay mold-free, and if you really love your fromage, reach for some cheese paper, parchment paper or waxed paper, all of which are semipermeable, which will keep your cheese from being swallowed up in a disgusting green fuzz.
When it comes to meat, your butcher knows best, which is why he wraps your steak up in a sheet of butcher paper. While it’s nothing more than plain brown paper with a waxy coating on one side, butcher paper, much like cheese paper, lets the food breathe a little, because letting a steak stew in its own juices for a few days in the fridge does not make for great tasting meat.
Finally, for the bakers out there, plastic wrap has long played a role protecting moist dough as it rises on the counter. But rather than rely on cling wrap, reach for a clean damp tea towel instead. Put the dough in a bowl and drape the towel over the top; the moisture in the towel will keep your dough from drying out too much.