Reusable food wraps are a great way to cut down on single-use plastics like plastic wrap and bags. As someone who wants to reduce my plastic waste, I’ve found that food wraps can be used in many ways to store, cover, and transport food while avoiding disposable plastics. In this article, I’ll share everything I’ve learned about how to use reusable food wraps effectively.
What Are Reusable Food Wraps?
Reusable food wraps are a sustainable alternative to single-use plastic wraps and bags. Food wraps are made from fabrics coated with beeswax, oils, and resins that create a cling-wrap like seal to cover bowls, wrap sandwiches, veggies, snacks and more.
Unlike plastic wrap that gets used once and thrown away, reusable food wraps can be used over and over. When they start to lose their cling, you simply wash them with cool water and mild soap, then re-coat them with beeswax to restore the seal. With proper care, food wraps can be reused for up to a year before needing to be replaced.
Why Use Reusable Food Wraps?
There are several benefits to using reusable food wraps instead of disposable plastic wrap:
- Reduce plastic waste – Food wraps eliminate the need for single-use plastic bags and wrap. This prevents tons of plastic from ending up in landfills and the environment.
- Chemical-free – Most food wraps are made from all-natural beeswax, oils and fabrics like cotton. No nasty chemicals compared to plastic wrap.
- Save money – Food wraps are an economical alternative to constantly buying plastic wrap and bags that get tossed after one use.
- Eco-friendly – Since they are reusable and washable, food wraps are a sustainable green alternative.
- Multi-purpose – Wraps can cover bowls, wrap produce, sandwiches, snacks, and beyond. Their versatility replaces several plastic items.
For anyone trying to use less plastic, reusable food wraps are a simple swap that makes a big impact.
Types of Reusable Food Wraps
There are a few varieties of food wraps available:
Beeswax Food Wraps
The most common type, beeswax food wraps consist of cotton fabric coated in beeswax, oils and sometimes tree resins. Beeswax allows the wraps to seal to containers and itself when wrapped around foods. These create a natural cling-wrap seal.
Silicone Food Wraps
Silicone food wraps are made from food-grade, platinum cured silicone that adheres to itself and bowls to create a seal. Silicone has more versatility as wraps can be used in the freezer, oven and microwave. They withstand higher heat than beeswax wraps.
Some companies are making innovative plastic-free food wraps from alternative materials like wood pulp paper, corn starch, and other sustainable options. These eco-friendly wraps vary in durability and versatility.
Overall, beeswax and silicone wraps are the most functional and reusable options. The material comes down to personal preference.
How to Use Reusable Food Wraps
Using reusable food wraps instead of plastic bags and wrap is easy once you get the hang of it. Here are tips to use them effectively:
Storing Food in Fridge and Freezer
- To cover bowls, plates or dishes, lay wrap directly over the container and press gently to adhere the wrap to the rim.
- For deeper dishes, you may need 2 or more wraps to fully cover.
- To seal leftovers or open produce, wrap item fully like a parcel. Fold and press wrap edges together to seal in contents.
- Make sure wraps lay flat against surface to keep a tight seal and prevent moisture buildup.
- Silicone wraps can go directly in freezer. Beeswax wraps need a container or parchment between them and frozen foods.
Transporting Food On-the-Go
- To wrap sandwiches and snacks, fold wrap fully around contents.
- Try double wrapping bulky or messy items.
- For produce like cut veggies or salad greens, line container with wrap before adding food.
- Wrap edges should seal together to prevent spills.
Covering Open Foods and Dishes
- For covering open bowls of food, plates, and dishes, drape wrap directly over top and tuck under dish.
- Make sure entire dish is covered to prevent spills or leaks.
- Press gently against sides of dish or pan to get a tight seal.
Wrapping Fruits and Veggies
- For smooth produce like cucumbers or celery, a single wrap around the middle seals nicely.
- For odd shapes like bunches of asparagus or herbs, fold and tuck wrap around contents before sealing ends.
- Double wrap very moist produce like cut fruit. The inner wrap contains moisture while outer wrap seals it.
Caring for Your Food Wraps
Food wraps are reusable, but they do require some simple care to keep them in good condition. Here are a few tips:
- Handwash in cool to lukewarm water with mild soap and let air dry after each use.
- Avoid very hot water or scrubbing as it can melt the wax coating.
- Every few months, re-coat wraps in beeswax by brushing on melted beeswax and letting cool. This re-seals any gaps in the wax.
- Don’t let wraps sit wet or damp for long. This can damage the wax and encourage mold growth.
- If wraps get stained, spot clean by scrubbing with salt and re-wax. For tougher stains, soak in vinegar and water before re-waxing.
With proper care, most food wraps will last around a year before needing to be replaced. Taking good care of them ensures you get the most use possible before having to buy new wraps.
Going Plastic-Free in the Kitchen
Reusable food wraps are one of several sustainable swaps you can make in the kitchen to cut down on plastics:
Use reusable produce bags for loose fruits, veggies, and bulk items instead of plastic produce bags.
Opt for reusable glass or stainless steel containers to store leftovers and meal prep instead of single-use plastic.
Choose reusable bags like canvas totes for shopping and transporting food instead of plastic grocery bags.
Carry reusable utensils like bamboo forks and stainless steel straws to use on-the-go instead of plastic cutlery.
Choose unpackaged fruits and veggies instead of those wrapped in plastic whenever possible.
Shop at bulk food stores and fill reusable containers instead of using plastic bags.
Say no to straws, cups, bottles, and other on-the-go plastic when carrying a reusable option from home.
Small changes like using reusable food wraps and bags go a long way in reducing needless plastic in our lives. We can all make an impact through mindful choices in the kitchen!