The Best Eco-Friendly Alternatives to Cling Film To Try

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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

Bowl of cereal and blueberries wrapped up in reusable food wrap, with a blue text box that reads easy 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

a plate on top of a bowl used an alternative to cling film

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

tea towel over a bowl as an 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 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.

Beeswax Wraps

beeswax food wrap

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

keep leaf sandwich bag as an eco-friendly alternative to cling film

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? 

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  1. This is a brilliant post (even if I’m a little late to the party).
    I have a question: I’m a vegetarian but my husband isn’t, so he buys enough fresh meat at the butchers to last him a couple of weeks and freezes it. He’s a big fan of convenience and isn’t too pleased that I’ve stopped buying plastic food bags. Do you have any suggestions for a way to store raw meat in the freezer that is convenient to use and to see what things are, doesn’t take up loads of space in our little freezer and is hygienic enough for things like raw chicken?
    I’m stumped – thanks in advance!

  2. I wonder about using a replacement for reheating food in the microwave? Clingfilm provides a good steam environment to cook green veggies quickly and healthily. Is there a good recommendation to replace it here?

    I heard a paper towel can do the trick, but it’s is also single use and usually comes wrapped in polythene! Would a tea towel work well?

  3. Thanks! am busy making my beeswax covers as I type – they are in the oven at the moment!!

  4. Thanks for this brilliant post – so helpful. Am keen to buy the glasslock, but they are so expensive too! I guess you only buy once (or twice, depending on how many you need) but even so… I bought some Who Give a Crap TP with a special discount; don’t think I would have done otherwise. Still, it’s good to know the options. Information is power as they say!

  5. Thanks for this post. When you just start looking at reducing, cling film seemed hard to give up ( like kitchen towel), but in reality alternatives are all really simple and cheap. It feels more like a bad habit now ( that I still resort to at times), but that I believe I can beat when I stay more aware of using it.

  6. Brilliant post thank you! I’ve looked at alternatives before but they all seemed very expensive or impractical. We already use very little cling film and I use the plate on bowl trick all the time! But these are very useful, think I will be investing in some glasslock and Keep Leaf sandwich bags!

  7. Great reminder! I’ve been gradually weaning myself off the stuff – it’s just about changing habits really isn’t it? I’ve re-discovered the old fashioned pyrex dishes with lids (often in charity shops!) as they’re great for storage and for microwaving without film!

  8. Can I please ask a question about the bees wax covers, Can you use them in the frezzer?
    or if not have you any ideas what you can use instead of cling film.
    I love to bake and sometimes make batches if I know Im going to be to busy to bake at the weekend.
    Ive always wrapped the cake when cold in cling film and put into the freezer. looking for a more eco alternative.
    love reading your blog

    1. Hi Karen, you can freeze beeswax wraps for the short term – for up to one month. Otherwise greaseproof paper might do the trick? I’m pretty sure it’s compostable but you might want to double check.

  9. When using a tea towel for covering bread dough if you use one made fron linen it won’t stick. Don’t know why but it works.