Looking for eco-friendly alternatives to cling film? Well, it’s a wrap – I’ve found five great sustainable alternatives for you to try.
Cling film might be cheap and help you cut your food waste, yet it comes at an environmental cost. This single-use plastic contributes to the plastic pollution crisis, is not recyclable, and is made from potentially harmful chemicals. When cling film ends up in landfills or incinerators, both PVC and PVDC – the plastics it is made from – can release a highly toxic chemical called dioxin.
If you are looking to explore eco-friendly options that help keep your food fresh while reducing your plastic usage, then you’ve come to the right place.
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
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, Not Cling Film
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 storage tubs as they break.
I’ve found some great glass storage tubs at John Lewis, starting from £4. You can put the glass trays (without the lids) directly into the microwave and oven (up to 250°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. In short, they are a lot more durable than plastic Tupperware.
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! Pro tip three!
Tea Towels Aren’t Just for, Err, Tea
My partner makes us homemade pizza each and every Friday. If you’ve ever made dough before, you’ll know what it takes to make the dough – you need to leave it to rise someplace warm for a few hours. I know from watching The Great British Bake Off that it’s common practice to use cling film when proving your dough.
My partner is no Paul Hollywood, but he says you don’t need cling film. Instead, he covers the bowl with a clean and dry tea towel. In the summer we set the bowl on the windowsill to prove. And in winter we sit the bowl near the heater. No plastic required.
If you don’t like the idea of using a tea towel, don’t worry, there are eco alternatives. If you are handy with a sewing machine then you can make these pretty bowl covers instead. If you don’t want to make covers, then you can buy bowl covers from the sustainable shop &Keep, for under £10 for a set of three.
If you want to wrap food up – for example, a hunk of cheese or half an onion – then reusable beeswax wraps are pretty amazing eco-friendly alternatives to cling film.
These clever wraps 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 from Ethical Superstore instead. If you’re vegan, you can even buy vegan food wraps from Dunelm.
A word of advice – don’t use wraps on hot food or on meat. Instead, pop the hot food or meat in a bowl and use the wrap to cover the bowl.
Reusable Food Bags
When I think of packed lunches I ate at school, I think of sweaty ham or cheese salad sandwiches tightly wrapped up in clingfilm. These days I approach my kids’ packed lunches a little differently. For eco-friendly alternatives to cling film, I have a few Keep Leaf sandwich bags (£5.99 from Ethical Superstore) that I pop sandwiches into, before placing them in a lunch bag.
I also use these as easily portable snack pouches for my kids. If you have kids, then you know just how many times a day you’re asked for snacks. These handy pouches help cut down on single-use plastic from snack wrappers. I’ve also got tons of plastic-free snack ideas to fill your pouches with!
To clean, 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.
That’s A Wrap
Hopefully, I’ve encouraged you to give these eco-friendly alternatives to cling film a go! As you can see, there are plenty of eco-friendly alternatives to plastic cling film that not only help preserve your food but also contribute to a healthier planet.
Although I have a few things that I’ve bought, these aren’t essential. Instead, 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?