May 09, 2017 4 min read
Plastic-Free Food Storage – 5 Easy Swaps You Can Make That Are Better For Your Health, The Planet and Your Purse.
By now you will have heard of the dangers of plastic – from its harmful chemicals leaching into your food, to the way it is choking and killing our planet. Plastic is no good for anybody, and we need to collectively make real steps to remove it from our everyday lives.
Going entirely plastic-free however, can be a very daunting task – one that can seem almost impossible due to the way plastic seems to feature heavily in EVERY area of our lives. One of these areas is food storage. How does ANYBODY store food plastic-free? Well, my friends – I have some quick and easy swaps you implement at home with little effort, without spending a ridiculous amount of money (you will actually SAVE money over time) to successfully go plastic-free when storing food.
1. Swap out plastic cling wrap and plastic sandwich bags for sustainable, reusable beeswax wraps.
Big offenders in single use plastic pollution in the home are plastic cling-wrap and sandwich bags. They are mostly un-recyclable – meaning they are usually used once, then discarded into landfill where they leach chemicals into the ground, finding its way into our water systems. Despite knowing this, most of us have cling wrap and plastic sandwich bags in our kitchens and use them on a regular basis in food storage. The answer? Sustainable, natural, non-toxic beeswax wraps. These wraps are basically cloth soaked in a mixture of natural beeswax and natural oils – meaning no toxic chemicals leaching into food. The warmth of your hands allows you to mould the wraps around bowls, plates, and food items – working the exact way plastic cling-wrap does. They are cost effective as you can use them again and again with proper care (to wash, simply rinse in warm soapy water and allow to air dry). I am sure the question on everyone’s lips is ‘yes, but are they as effective as cling-wrap?’ – well I recently made the switch to beeswax wraps personally and can tell you, I won’t be turning back. I promise you will be an absolute convert once you try them. You can buy beeswax wraps here, vegan options here, or try your hand at making your own here
2. Swap out plastic dinnerware for non-toxic, plastic-free alternatives.
So you have ditched the cling-film. What do we usually use cling-film to cover when storing food? That’s right, bowls, cups and plates. As parents, most of us will have (or have come across) plastic dinnerware (easy to clean, seemingly unbreakable). Despite most of the plastic dinnerware manufactured today being BPA-free, recent studies suggest that the replacement chemicals for BPA are equally as harmful and disruptive to healthy physiological function in our bodies. Constant exposure to these chemicals over time can put us at real risk, the solution? Opt for plastic-free, chemical-free dinnerware. Look for companies using sustainable, earth friendly materials such as bamboo or stainless steel. We recently switched out all our toddler’s dinnerware and cups to these adorable sets from Bobo & Boo.
3. Repurpose glass jars from used packaged food.
Grocery shopping is wrought with plastic. From produce being unnecessarily wrapped in plastic (thank god, it’s not like fruit and vegetables have a natural protective wrapper already), to the bags we carry home our plastic-wrapped goods home in. So how do we shop plastic-free? Look for products packaged in glass rather than plastic. Coffee and nut butters are a great place to start and often have jars perfect for reusing for plastic-free food storage. Buy goods such as nuts, grains, flour, and beans from bulk food stores rather than the plastic packaged kind from supermarkets, and store them in your repurposed jars. Not only will this work out cheaper, but you will successfully avoid the harmful chemicals from plastic leaching into your food over time.
4. Mason jars, mason jars, mason jars.
Mason jars have SO many uses. You can use them to store dried goods (as mentioned in the previous tip), brew kombucha, jar homemade pickles, ferments, jams and sauces. You can store mason jars in the pantry and fridge, but did you know you can also freeze in mason jars? Yes! It is possible! There are some tricks to this, so make sure to buy good quality jars, and check out this handy guide to avoid breakage.
5. Swap out plastic tupperware for glass or stainless steel.
I bet most of you have heard your granny lament ‘they just don’t make things like they used to’. Well, your granny is right. Products that were traditionally glass, are sadly now plastic. As you know, this poses a threat to our health and the environment. Not only does plastic tupperware typically allow smells and colours to leach into the plastic (giving it a shorter lifespan that its glass counterpart, we’ve all seen a slightly orange container after a run-in with some bolognese), it also leaches its chemicals into the food it is storing. The answer? Opt for glass or stainless steel food containers. The glass tupperware on the market nowadays unfortunately does typically have plastic lids, however there are some on the market using glass lids with minimal plastic instead. *TOP TIP* – search op shops for vintage tupperware, the kind that has glass lids you would see at your granny’s house. Your local Vinnies is probably teaming with plastic-free food storage options, happy hunting!
Bethen is a mother of two, blogger of food and founder of ‘Ethical Index’ – a social enterprise sharing ethical and sustainable brands around the world. She spends her days enjoying the Sunshine Coast of Australia with her family, experimenting with plant-based food, and trying to live sustainably.