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The Best Eco Friendly Alternatives to Cling Film

keep leaf sandwich bag

Today let’s talk about eco-friendly alternatives to cling film.

Growing up cling film was used ubiquitously in my house (ubiquitously!). However, at some point since leaving home at the age of 17 I stopped using the stuff.  I can’t remember exactly when as it has been well over a decade since I last bought cling film.  What I do know is that it was no great loss to me not having a roll to hand.  Finding alternatives that worked just meant thinking a bit more creatively in the kitchen.

Eco-Friendly Alternatives to Cling Film

Here are the eco-friendly alternatives to cling film that work for us:

The Creative Use of Crockery & Other Kitchen Ephemera

eco friendly alternative to cling wrap

Got some leftovers from dinner time?  If the food is in a bowl I’ll cover the leftovers with a plate and pop it in the fridge for later.  If the leftovers are on a plate I’ll use an upturned plate to cover the plate with.  And if you’re in a pickle and out of plates, then saucepan lids also make pretty good plate and bowl covers too.  Pro tip!

For reheating food in the microwave I simply pop a non-metallic plate on top of the plate or bowl.  This helps avoid food splatters.  So thrifty, so simple, and my favourite cling film alternative.  If your fridge is a bit on the full side you can even balance things on top of the plate.  Pro tip two!

Food Storage is Your Friend

I have a fairly extensive collection of Tupperware, amassed over the years.  I use these to decant leftovers into or to store foodstuffs in the fridge that I might once have otherwise wrapped in clingfilm, such as a block of cheese, a half chopped onion, or something similar.

I’m planning to replace my plastic Tupperware with glass Tupperware as it breaks.  

The best glass Tupperware I can find is by Glasslock.  You can put the glass trays (without the lids) directly into the microwave and oven (up to 230°C).  What’s more, as they’re glass, they won’t stain if you put tomato-based foods in them.  They are also 100% airtight and leakproof too.  They are even freezer safe.  I think they just sound a lot more durable than plastic Tupperware.  The only thing is Glasslock isn’t currently widely available in the UK.  I’ve found them available on Amazon*.  I’ve sometimes seen them on offer at Costco too.

As well as Tupperware I also use glass jars to store food in, rather than wrapping some cling film over a bowl.  Leftover soup lends itself to being stored in a lidded jar quite nicely.   And if you want to take the soup to work the next day for lunch then you can just cart your soup to work with you in your bag.  No spills!

Tea Towels Aren’t Just for, Err, Tea

eco friendly alternatives to cling film

My partner makes us homemade pizza each and every Friday.  If you’ve ever made dough before, you’ll know this means making the dough.  Then you need to leave it to rise someplace warm for a few hours.  Instead of wrapping the bowl with cling film, we cover the bowl with a clean dry tea towel or napkin.  In the summer we set the bowl on the windowsill to prove.  And in winter we sit the bowl near the wood-burning stove.

If you don’t like the idea of using a tea towel, don’t worry.  If you are handy with a sewing machine then you can make these pretty bowl covers instead.

Mind Your Own Beeswax

beeswax food wrap

If you want to wrap food up – for example, a hunk of cheese – then beeswax wraps are pretty amazing eco-friendly alternatives to cling film.  These mould around food with just the heat of your hands and are washable.  You can make your own in minutes using beeswax pellets and fabric scraps with this handy beeswax wrap DIY.  If you’re time poor you can buy them online* instead.  A word of advice – don’t use them on hot food or on meat. Instead, pop the hot food or meat in a bowl and use the wrap to cover the bowl.

Bag It Up

keep leaf sandwich bag

When I think of packed lunches I ate at school, I think of ham or cheese salad sandwich tightly wrapped up in clingfilm.  These days I approach packed lunches a little differently.  For eco-friendly alternatives to cling film I have a few Keep Leaf sandwich bags* that I pop sandwiches into, before placing them in a lunch bag.

I actually bought the Keep Leaf bags as easily portable snack pouches for my daughter.  I’ve found I’ve got to have snacks to hand at all times. As such, I wanted to cut down on single-use plastic from toddler snacks.  However, I find I use them for sandwiches a lot too when we’re out and about.  You can either wipe down the inside, or hand wash or machine wash the sandwich bags ready for the next use.

For a no-cost alternative, I will also wrap sandwiches in a cotton napkin. Or, if I’m using a Tupperware tub or lunchbox I’ll pop the sandwich straight in – no covering required.

Hopefully, I’ve encouraged you to give these eco-friendly alternatives to cling film a go!  Although I have a few things that I’ve bought, these aren’t essential.  I hope the takeaway message here is that giving up cling film just means being creative with what you already own.  And if you don’t use cling film, I wonder, have I missed any tricks? 

I also have a ton of food waste tips right this way, if you are looking for more ideas to cut food waste!

Home and Garden, Natural Cleaning

Make Your Own Fabric Conditioner In Seconds

I’ve got a really simple recipe for you today on how to make your own fabric conditioner.

You might be wondering why you need to make your own fabric conditioner, when it’s widely available in the shops.  And you might think you’re doing a good thing for your clothes when you reach for the fabric conditioner.  I don’t blame you.  Decades upon decades of marketing have convinced millions of us that fabric conditioner is a vital element of the laundry process, and there’s a whopping $12 billion global market for the product.

But, I’ve got a little secret for you: you really don’t need to use conventional fabric conditioner.  The eco friendly alternative to fabric conditioner I’m going to share at the end of this post costs just pennies per load and is much more effective load per load at softening your clothes.

make your own fabric conditioner

Why You Should Ditch The Shop Bought Stuff

First, here are four reasons to ditch fabric conditioner in favor of an effective eco-friendly alternative.

1. Fabric conditioner is terrible for some of your clothes and towels.

Fabric conditioner essentially applies a thin, waxy coating to your laundry, which has to be water-resistant in order to survive the washing process.  This waterproof coating makes your clothes feel softer but lessens their ability to properly absorb water and laundry detergent.  This means your clothes won’t respond as well to washing and will be more likely to lock in bad odors.

The chemical coating can also make your towels less absorbent over time and reduce the performance of sweat-resistant sportswear.  Fabric conditioner is also harsh on cotton or bamboo clothing, which normally absorbs light perspiration on its own.  As soon as fabric conditioner is introduced, that absorption is lost.

When used on clothing containing elastane and nylon (such as leggings, skinny jeans, and bras), fabric conditioner can leave a residue that dulls the item’s finish and attracts odor-causing bacteria.

2. Some conventional brands aren’t vegetarian or vegan.

Rather alarmingly, some fabric conditioners aren’t vegetarian- or vegan-friendly.  One ingredient found in certain brands is dihydrogenated tallow dimethyl ammonium chloride.  In simpler terms: animal fat.  This fat is extracted from suet — the fatty tissues around the kidneys of cattle and sheep.  Suddenly that bottle sitting in your laundry room doesn’t look quite as innocuous as it did at first.

3. It’s not great for us or the environment.

Fabric softeners often contain a cocktail of non-renewable petroleum-based chemicals, which are not easily biodegradable.

A study by the University of Washington found that certain chemicals found in fabric conditioner are likely human carcinogens, developmental toxins, and allergens that can contribute to eczema.  These chemicals included likely human carcinogens acetaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane, developmental toxicants methyl ethyl ketone and chloromethane, and allergens like linalool.

Once these chemicals are washed down the drain they can become highly toxic to aquatic life too.

4. It’s bad for your washing machine and plumbing.

As many brands of fabric conditioner are petroleum-based and full of animal fat, they can clog up your washing machine (especially if it’s a front-loading one) and pipes.

Fabric conditioner can also encourage the growth of mold in your machine.  Due to its fat content, when fabric conditioner is exposed to air and moisture, it becomes a breeding ground for bacteria and mould.  And because of the design of most machines, it means that the water-resistant softener is never quite washed out properly, leaving a residue that only encourages the growth of bacteria and black mould throughout your whole washing machine.  Which does not make for pleasant reading.

How to Make Your Own Fabric Conditioner

I’m a big fan of natural cleaning products to DIY.  Therefore, this homemade eco-friendly alternative to fabric conditioner is much better for you, your clothes, your washing machine and your environment. It’s perfect for people with sensitive skin, and it contains just two simple and inexpensive ingredients:

You will need:

500ml Glass bottle/jar
500ml White vinegar – here’s where to buy white vinegar in bulk for cleaning
30 drops Essential Oil of your choice

Directions:

Fill your bottle/jar with vinegar, and add around 30 drops of essential oil to your vinegar

To Use:

Shake well before use.

At the stage when you are adding your laundry detergent to your machine, fill the fabric conditioner compartment of the drawer up to the line with the scented vinegar.  For a half load of washing, decrease the amount by half.

Using this mixture in place of fabric conditioner will give your laundry a delicate and clean aroma without a hint of vinegar — I promise!  If there is still a trace of vinegar on your wet clothes, be assured this will dissipate as the clothes dry.

My favorite oils to use for fabric conditioner are lemon and sweet orange for a zingy citrus aroma.  However, feel free to substitute depending on your preferences.  Alternatively, you can skip the oil for a scent-free conditioner.

Vinegar makes for a great natural fabric conditioner because it cuts through soapy residue and it won’t interfere with the absorbency of your laundry, making your clothes and towels last longer and smell better. Nor will it leave deposits in your washing machine or plumbing.  In fact, vinegar also cuts through grease so you’ll actually clean your machine every time you do a load of laundry.  Double win!

I also have a ton of other laundry tips that you might find useful.  Firstly, how to dry clean at home.  Secondly, this is a good one to legitimise laziness – how often should you wash your clothes.  I also have a guide on how to wash wool, and how to wash striped clothing.  And lastly, my guide to natural stain removal.

This article originally appeared on mindbodygreen