How to reduce clingfilm / plastic wrap.

Filed in Blog by on July 7, 2008 6 Comments
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glass food storage avoids the need for clingfilmI miscalculated the amount of broccoli I bought this week and ended up doing an emergency dash to our local store.

I ended up with the broccoli wrapped in about half a metre of clingfilm. As I was fighting with getting it off without shredding the stuff under my fingernails, I glanced up to where I store aluminium foil and baking parchment to realise that my roll of clingfilm must be about 7 years old.

I just don’t use clingfilm anymore; I think I became fed up with it wrapping itself around me rather than the food, but I remember a time when I used to use it for everything. Sandwiches, left overs, putting over plates in the fridge. Whatever it was, the clingfilm would come out and if it ripped, I’d roll it up in the bin and start again.

The trouble with clingfilm is that it cannot be recycled and is almost impossible to reuse. Once in the landfill, clingfilm can be damaging to wildlife and remains in the environment for hundreds of years. It is rumoured to leak plasticisers into food too.

So here are my top tips for reducing clingfilm use!

REDUCE

1- Ok, it’s still plastic, but a reusable plastic box with a lid is a more sustainable idea. You can get them in a variety of sizes – tiny ones for storing small portions of left over food such as grated cheese, mid sized one for sandwiches at lunchtimes, up to huge ones for storing meat, veggies or cheese in the fridge.

2- Ditch the idea of plastic altogether and use dishes or containers that you have in your home for storing left overs. Stainless steel bowls, pudding dishes, small mixing bowls will all do. Just cover with a saucer or plate. If you have nothing suitable, you can buy glass containers for storage. Be aware that pyrex cannot be recycled before you splash out on anything new…………….

3- If you want to posh it up for lunchboxes, then look no further than laptop lunchboxes. How I would have loved one as a child! Laptop lunchboxes have compartments for different kinds of food and are designed to help reduce packed lunch waste and to be used without the need for any additional packaging such as aluminium foil or clingfilm. In addition, they encourage people to pack a healthier and more varied packed lunch.

Laptop lunchboxes makes the presentation of food great, encourages young fussy eaters to finish up their goodies and is durable. The small compartments keep children happy and they are big enough for hungry adults too.

We’ve got a laptop lunchbox kit to give away in a future competition; so do keep coming back to the site for details on how you can win one! The complete kit includes a fabulous laptop lunchbox, a reuseable drinks bottle, a users guide; which includes recipes and lots of tips, and utensils. It’s an utterly gorgeous prize and one which I want to keep myself, so make sure you enter to give me an excuse to give one away!

REUSE

1- Lakeland do ‘Food Saver Bags‘ and ‘Food Saver Paper Roll’ which is waxed paper specifically for food use which will not dry food out. Deborah Atkinson from Lakeland, assures me these products are biodegradable, but I’m trying to find out how. Are they another cornstarch packaging greenwash or are they genuine? I’ll tell you as soon as I get any feedback. Visit Lakeland’s site and type ‘food saver’ into the search box.

2- Paper bags from your vegetable box or mushroom bags from the supermarket can be reused and recycled. It’s all about seeing your ‘waste’ in another light and reusing where possible. Clean out and reuse bread bags, frozen vegetable bags and the inner waxed bags that breakfast cereal comes in.

With a little thought, you’ll probably discover you are throwing away perfect packaging and then buying clingfilm especially for sandwiches! Start saving up useful packaging and you’ll find it stocks up quicker than you can get through it

3- My absolute favourite has to be the ingenious Wrap-n-mat from Onya bags. These clever fellas make a kind of ‘parcel’ out of your sandwiches. It keeps them fresh, can be washed after use and will last for years. Get 15% off your own wrap-n-mat with our discount (offer ends the end of the week, so be quick!)

RECYCLE

1- Unbleached parchment paper can be re-used and recycled. Greaseproof paper cannot be recycled and is bleached with chemicals. check out Natural Collection for parchment paper made from unbleached paper with a silicone coating. This avoids the usual chemical compounds found in other types of greaseproof paper.

2- Good quality foil can be reused and recycled. Natural Collection’s Recycled Aluminium Foil is 100% recycled and because making recycled aluminum uses a tiny fraction – a twentieth – of the energy normally needed to smelt aluminium from ore, their foil saves emissions and helps the environment, as well as closing the recycling loop!

Both these kitchen essentials come in recycled paper packaging printed with vegetable based inks.

So there you have it; lots of ways to avoid the dreaded plastic clingfilm wrapping itself around the landfill.

Did I miss anything – do you have any ideas to share?

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About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (6)

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  1. Jane says:

    I’m a plastic pot person… we’ve lots in all shapes and sizes for lunches and leftovers, then more stacked in the freezer. I can tell when I need to have a major cooking session as the cupboard of tubs is overflowing!

    You’re right though, cling film is a nasty – and not just for the environment but for you as well, although admittedly that one is still out for debate. I’m sure everyone remembers the panic and changes there were (was it 10 years ago or more) when we were told not to let it touch food etc. I’m sure things aren’t as bad as were made out then, but there is often an element of truth underlying these things.

  2. Mrs Green says:

    Hi Jane,

    We have quite a few plastic pots too, but lately I have an assortment of mismatching pots and lids which is annoying me (because the lids will end up in the landfill – grrrrrr).

    Mr Green has noticed that cheese he buys from one particular shop (which is wrapped in clingfilm) tastes odd. We’re not sure what is going on, but I guess it’s some kind of leaching. Better to steer clear 😉 as you say, it’s still all open to debate……..

  3. Mrs Green says:

    Oooo, I just found a stainless steel sandwich tin on Amazon

  4. Jane says:

    Just discovered that the reusable plastic lid (PP) of the SPC plastic fruit pot fits the top of some of my glasses and cups. It must be a standard size and it means that I can cover those pots without using clingfilm. So what with the Pringle lids fitting the ramekins we’re hardly using any clingfilm at all and the roll has lasted years.

  5. Mrs Green says:

    @Jane: Love it! We’ve found some small foil containers that are the perfect sizes like this; I love it when that happens – saves money and waste 😉 I don’t think I actually own clingfilm anymore – the last roll was a cheap one that tore and stuck to everything except the thing I wanted it to so was a complete waste of money

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