What are more eco friendly alternatives to cling film?
Try these 5 reusable alternatives to cling film
Alternatives to cling film
Many people will have cling film / wrap in their kitchens. It’s most commonly used to wrap packed lunches and cover leftover food. Cling film usually gets thrown in the rubbish bin, so it is not an environmentally friendly product.
What is cling film/wrap?
Cling film is a single use plastic. In many places around the world, it cannot be recycled so ends up in landfill. Here in New Zealand, it can be recycled through the Soft Plastics Recycling Scheme, but they note in their list of products that they collect: Cling film which is clean – and please make sure it is LDPE (resin 4).
As with other types of plastic, it is harmful to the environment. It will break down over time, but the particles will only get smaller and not decompose completely. Smaller particles are more likely to be eaten by animals, particularly fish, and could then move up the food chain.
Luckily there are alternatives that you can use instead of cling film.
What are the alternatives? Five ideas to try instead of single use cling film
1. Reusable plastic containers like Tupperware or Sistema
These containers are still plastic, for sure, but not single use.
Reusable boxes and containers are perfect for lunch boxes, saving leftovers and for freezing portions of food and ingredients for later use.
They last for years, and you can get replacement clips and lids for some brands of containers – Tupperware have a lifetime replacement policy.
The only issue I find is that I end up with a lot of washing up, as I don’t like to put them through the dishwasher as it can dull or damage them over time. But I try to remind myself that it is better than using cling film that could end up in landfill after just one use.
2. Beeswax wraps
Beeswax wraps are increasingly popular as a waste-free alternative to cling film. They are made from pieces of cotton that have been coated with beeswax, and oils such as coconut or jojoba. This creates a breathable and pliable piece of material that can be used in place of cling film. They are reusable and biodegradable at the end of their useful life.
You can use them to cover leftovers, wrap sandwiches, or wrap items in the fridge such as cheese, to keep it fresh.
I use them to wrap cut up fruit or vegetables for lunchboxes. This has been successful for my children’s lunchboxes, as they are more likely to eat cut up produce, and the wrap stops it going brown.
My only issue with beeswax wraps is that they can leave a waxy taste or smell on sandwiches, which some people don’t like. But they are perfect for things such covering leftovers in a bowl in the fridge.
3. Cotton napkins
Cotton napkins are excellent in place of cling film for wrapping sandwiches. We use them to wrap sandwiches and then put the sandwiches into a reusable container, to keep them even fresher.
I wash them in the washing machine with tea towels, etc. They last for many years, we still use some napkins that we bought almost 20 years ago.
4. Wax / Baking paper or tin foil
Wax paper or baking paper is useful for wrapping sandwiches, and you can compost it or burn in a wood burner after use.
Tin foil / aluminium foil is easy to wash and reuse. You can recycle it, if it is not food contaminated.
These two options still use resources up, as they are not as reusable as other options.
5. Use a plate or bowl to cover leftovers
An old classic trick is to use a plate or bowl to cover leftovers in the fridge. A cheap, reusable option!
It seems like a small thing, to stop using cling film. But small actions can make a difference to the environment. It is one way that individual action can add up to collective change.
Have you made the switch from cling film? Which alternative would tempt you to swap?
Let me know in the comments below.
Find more ideas to help you reduce waste in your home in this post How to live a lower waste life – the basics.