Plastic wrap was a kitchen essential for me my entire life. I used it to wrap up a half-used onion; to cover a large bowl of lentil salad I had made for the week; to wrap a sandwich tightly for safe passage in my bag to work. Every few months I’d run out and immediately buy a new roll, considering it a staple kitchen item, like butter, olive oil and salt. What I really needed were reusable plastic wrap alternatives.
Problems with Plastic Wrap
Plastic wrap is extremely handy; there’s a reason it grew to be so popular in kitchens across the world. Like a lot of other plastic products, though, it had issues. One of those issues — the presence of plasticizers that were carcinogenic — has recently been corrected: most brands of plastic wrap, including Saran Wrap, are no longer made with PVC (look for brands that say “PVC free”). But the longstanding environmental problems with plastic wrap have nowhere to go. Households use plastic wrap in great quantities, and plastic wrap is largely not recyclable, because it gets caught in recycling machinery.
A Plastic Wrap Mind Shift
Recently, as I made a conscious effort to use less plastic in my kitchen, I discovered that there are many easy alternatives to plastic wrap, and that all I really needed to do was… pretend plastic wrap doesn’t exist. I invested in a few items: one package of beeswax paper, three cloth bowl covers and a couple of cloth sandwich wraps with velcro. Six months went by and in that time, I had no need to buy plastic wrap. What I learned was that the biggest part is the mind shift: to break the pathway of my brain that saw plastic wrap as the logical solution to various food preservation needs.
5 Reusable Plastic Wrap Alternatives
This list of alternatives to plastic wrap is embarrassingly simple:
Plate on top of Bowl
It’s as easy as this: you have a bowl of lentil salad you want to chip away at all week and you don’t have any containers that are the right size. Skip the plastic wrap and put a plate on top of the bowl.
Cloth bowl covers
Similar to plate-on-bowl is a cloth bowl cover. They have made plastic ones of these for years (they look like little shower caps and you can find them at grocery stores). To go totally plastic-free you can make your own with cloth and elastic, or buy them from a kitchenware store.
You can look on Pinterest for ways to DIY these reusable, moldable wrappers made of a cloth square covered in beeswax. Or you can buy them, affordably. I use them to top bowls of food and also to wrap a hunk of cheese or the end of a half-eaten cucumber, say.
Glass Container or Jar
So, you have that half of an onion that if you threw in the refrigerator uncovered would ruin the taste of every other food in there. Rather than sheathing it in plastic wrap, put it in a Mason jar with the top closed. Or a glass storage dish with cover. No new items need to be purchased to pull this off. Mind shift.
Plastic wrap is amazing at wrapping a sandwich and containing any leaks. Cloth or silicon reusable sandwich bags are totally serviceable, although they require a washing at the end of the day if any fillings have leaked out the sides at all. This is the mind shift: something worth saving is worth the trouble of washing. It’s a little bit of extra work but it has long-lasting effects.