Day 10: Plastic Free Challenge
Globally, we have become very wrapped up in our addiction with plastic wrap, AKA saran wrap. From food storage to shipping packages, plastic wrap has become a quick convenience that is suffocating the planet.
Here are the Facts:
Plastic wrap contains both BPA and phthalates, chemicals that are endocrine disruptors that have been banned from children’s toys. Plastic wrap also contains Diethylhydroxylamine or DEHA, a toxin that causes liver tumors in laboratory mice. According to the National Center for Health Research, “Consumers Union tested plastic-wrapped foods and found DEHA levels higher than what is recommended and even permitted by European advisory committees and regulatory agencies.” (Source:http://www.center4research.org/)
Even BPA and phthalates-free plastic wrap contains toxins which are laches into your food, especially fatty foods like cheese, or foods microwaved in plastic wrap.
Here’s a deeper look on chemical exposure from plastic wrap:
What about “Multi-Use” plastic containers?
While still better than single-use plastics, these flimsy microwave and freezer “safe” containers are cheap, made of harmful plastic, and often only get used once. It’s unlikely someone will take the time to wash these containers versus throwing them away. While considered recyclable, these plastics will break down over time and leach chemicals into the food they store. Just because something is labeled as microwave safe only means it is not expected to melt in the microwave. Freezer safe only implies that the plastic is not expected to break when frozen. Chemicals still leach from these plastics overtime.
Unfortunately, even washing these containers on the top rack of the dishwasher causes them to corrode over time.
This lightweight foil has been a storage staple for decades. Even though used tin foil is recyclable by Recology in the Bay Area, metals are still a natural resource that requires extracting from the earth, which requires water and energy. Even recycling requires water and energy. That’s why we recommend you reduce, refuse, rot and reuse before you recycle!
Stephanie at Fillgood.co says: aluminum is a very energy-intensive material to manufacture. Easy to recycle but in order to be separated from the other materials, it has to be big enough. That’s why we recommended collecting any small pieces at home and wrapping them into a bigger piece to make a ball 🙂
Make your own beeswax wrap!
Also, many companies are selling their own styles of sustainable food covers and wraps, like: http://www.ambatalia.com/, who design and produce ecological textile products to help you live a more sustainable life.
Here’s is a brand I have been using:
However, the best methods of plastic-free food storage stars at the store, by avoiding plastic packaging from the very beginning!
The best way to do this is by shopping in the bulk aisle of your grocery store. (Don’t worry Fillgood.co and I have an entire day dedicated to Bulk Food coming up this week!) Many whole foods and co-ops have a bulk section, it looks like this:
But the key is to avoid using their plastic bags AT ALL COSTS! Bring your own reusable totes, mason jars, or other containers. Simply weigh the container or bag on the provided scale prior to filling it, and have the cashier TARE that weight at the cash register.
For storage at home, I prefer glass jars. Mason jars, pickle jars, they all work great. Thrift stores are gold mines for finding awesome glass jar storage. As you can see, I haven’t completely worked my plastic out of my pantry yet. There are still some plastic spice jars over there. But that’s part of the zero waste process.
This was my cabinet just a couple years ago:
The process takes time, but if you are persistent it is doable. Before you know it, you house will be completely free of single-use plastic!
Now for zero waste food storage hacks!
1.) Bread bins make great alternatives to plastic bags. Just make sure to wipe out the bin between uses! Bread bins are the only ways I have found to keep baguettes fresh overnight.
2.) Storing produce is a mix of science and art in this household. Here are some tips I’ve found to work: Storing Produce
3.) When you have a good amount of vegetables to use up at the end of the week, soup is a great way to avoid wasting any produce. The best thing is, you don’t have to eat the soup right away.
Cool the soup or stew to room temperature and freeze in a air tight container. Soup can be kept frozen for several months. What a great way to reduce your food waste! And you’ll always have a nice warm bowl of soup on a rainy day!
Check out my Sunday Soup Recipe for specifics. This also works for sauces!
4.) Did you know you can freeze herbs in you favorite cooking oil to use later? Either for greasing up pans, to flavoring fried potatoes, soups, stews, and so many other uses!**
Simply chop them up, separate (or be extra fancy and mix some herb combinations) into an old ice cube tray, add the oil, and freeze. *NOTE* I just filled the oil enough to cover the herbs, which was less than half way full!
**This idea was inspired by Eco Granny, who has some seriously awesome zero waste recipes and ideas on her site!