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Wrap'n, Freeze'n, Store'n Food Without Plastic

Posted Feb 15 2010 8:21am
Plastic wraps or cling wraps are very convenient but not that great for the environment or your health.  Many brands contain PVC (polyvinyl chloride) which is toxic in its manufacture, its use, and its disposal.  It is a problem even if there is a small amount in the plastic.  Many brands contain plasticizers which are also known as phthalates.  They are added to stiff plastics to make them soft and pliable.  It is best to avoid these chemicals since scientific investigations have shown they are related to abnormal development of male genitals, lower semen quality, and premature breast development in girls. Phthalates are know to leech into the food they contact.

What does one use instead of cling wrap?  It depends on how you use it but here are a few suggestions- To store leftovers use a lid (preferably a glass or metal one) instead of covering the top of a bowl with cling wrap.  You may need to make an effort to stock your kitchen with non-plastic options.  Antique and second hand stores have many choices from years past.  There are new options, too, like this one from Anchor Hocking.
- Instead of wrapping something like a sandwich in cling wrap, use a waxed paper bag or a piece of waxed paper from a roll.  I like Natural Value waxed paper bags. They are unbleached paper products that degrade.  You could also wrap food in a cloth napkin, tying it with a ribbon to keep it shut.  Being reusable and washable is a plus.
- Another great product is a sandwich wrap which is cloth, reusable, and washable - made specifically for wrapping sandwiches.
If you must use cling wrap, try one of these- Natural Value plastic wrap contains no plasticizers or PVC’s.
- Diamant Food Wrap is plasticizer-free and recyclable.  It is PVC-free polystyrene.
- Glad Cling Wrap is plasticizer free.

The problem with the above products is that they are plastic.  Unless the plastic wrap is labelled biodegradable, it will be in the environment for a long, long time.  Is it worth it to use a piece of plastic once and then throw it away only to have it around for eons in the environment?

Freezing food without plastic is another problem.  I have used the Food Saver vacuum bags before, but this plastic is not recyclable or reusable.  I wrote to Food Saver to find out what type of plastic they use but have not received a reply yet.  My gut tells me to find an alternative.  I often use foil to wrap food tightly for freezing.  My favorite is Reynolds 100% recycled aluminum foil.  I also freeze liquids in glass jars  but you have to be careful not to overfill the jar.  Liquid food is mostly water and water needs room to expand (at least 1 inch) when it freezes.  I have been trying to avoid tomato products in metal cans because they are lined with BPA.  Glass jars have worked well for my homemade tomato sauce. I save almost every glass jar that has a good lid.  

Pyrex containers are highly recommended by Suzanne at MommyFootprint because they can go from the freezer to the microwave or oven without breaking.  The lids are BPA-free plastic.   The Tickle Trunk has some great stainless steel food storage containers  that close with a tight seal.

It is a good idea to start accumulating sturdy jars like these freezing/canning jars by Ball  or these European glass canning jars  so that you are ready for leftovers or freezing food.  They are nice because they have wide mouths.

Do any of you green readers have other ideas for plastic-free freezing or food storage?
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