This post is all about eco-friendly, plastic-free, sustainable alternatives for food storage and wrapping.
You’ll probably know that it’s pretty impossible to re-use clingfilm in a meaningful way. And it can’t be recycled.
So, if you’ve not done so already, I challenge you to banish clingfilm/plastic wrap from your home. If you’re at or near the end of the roll, don’t buy more. If you’re not, gather up what you have and stash it somewhere far away like the loft or garage. Well out of reach.
Brown paper bags
Cheap and easy to find, the humble paper bag works pretty well for sandwiches and dry things like nuts and fruit. You just need to make sure there’s no plastic lining in there.
But be warned, paper bags won’t work too well for wet items like cut lemons. They also disintegrate pretty quickly if you’re using them on the go, especially if it’s raining.
And, of course, most are single use so that’s not ideal. But still miles better than clingfilm.
I’m sure you’ve seen beeswax wraps around. Maybe you have some already? They’re great but can be pricey.
If you’re a beeswax wrap virgin, here’s how they work. You use the heat from your hands to mould them around bowls and other stuff.
The concept is good. The wraps also look nice as the fabric tends to have snazzy patterns.
As for hygiene, beeswax is naturally anti-bacterial so that’s great for keeping the (non-plastic) nasties at bay.
And the wraps can be washed time and time again in hot soapy water. They dry really quickly for folding and storing away for next time.
When they’re ready to go into retirement you can compost them. So far, so good.
Make your own
After a few months of using shop bought wraps, I spotted a beeswax bar for sale in a health food shop in Bristol – a steal at £1.50. You can easily find them online too.
Then all you need is to find some 100% cotton fabric. Old work shirts are ideal. Give them a wash in hot water. Once dry, cut them up into various sizes. Squares and rectangles are best.
If you’re feeling fancy, pinking sheers give a lovely crimped edge! Normal scissors work fine too.
Next, place the beeswax bar on a baking sheet with high sides and into the oven on a high heat. About 190°C/375°F will do the trick.
After a minute or so, the bar will melt down so you can take the tray out and soak the fabric pieces in the wax for about ten seconds. Make sure they are saturated.
Then lift each one out. They’ll be hot but fine to touch (a bit like candle wax). No gloves needed, unless you’re mega sensitive to heat.
I think the best way to dry them is by attaching twine to your cupboard handles to make a loose line. Secure the wraps with some clothes pegs.
After around five minutes, they’ll be dry and ready to use. You can then pop the baking tray back into the oven to melt any remaining wax and wipe it away.
The home-made wraps are much stickier than the shop-bought ones and miles cheaper. They last for ages too.
I wouldn’t use beeswax wraps to directly contact wrap certain foods such as raw chicken or other raw meat.
Instead you could store things like that in a bowl covered with an upturned side plate. This option also works well for strong-smelling or coloured foods e.g. soups or curries that you might not want to stain or stinkify your wraps.
If you try these alternatives, I don’t think you’ll miss clingfilm one bit. It’s easy to do without it.
If you’re vegan or would prefer not to use beeswax wraps, I have seen some nice looking soy wax alternatives around as well which might be worth a try.
If you’re new to beeswax wraps (home-made or otherwise), I’d love to hear how you get on. Or if you’re a wax-wrap pro, do share any ideas, tips or feedback in the comments below.
Paper bags, around £3.00 for 50, widely available online. Ready-made beeswax wraps around £20 – 25 for three, health food shops, many supermarkets and online. Beeswax bar: around £1.50 in health food shops or online.