Posts Tagged ‘Plastic wrap’

You’re Kidding – Eliminate Aluminum Foil and Plastic Wrap?

I try to avoid single use products like plastic wrap and aluminum foil and rarely use them, but when I do, I cringe when I have to throw them away knowing they won’t biodegrade.  If it’s not too dirty, aluminum foil is easy to wash and reuse, but eventually it has to be thrown away. If it isn’t too soiled, you can recycle it (wash it first).  The same is true for plastic wrap, although many curbside-recycling programs won’t accept it.

According to Earth911.com, “more than 1.3 billion pounds of aluminum foil is produced in the U.S. annually….we also use enough plastic wrap every year to shrink-wrap the entire state of Texas.”  That’s a lot!  It’s true, aluminum foil and plastic wrap are convenient kitchen staples you almost can’t live without, but happily there are alternatives.

Plastic wrap on top of a vessel.

Plastic wrap on top of a vessel. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Plastic wrap and foil are regularly used to cover food, but it’s better to store leftovers in microwave safe glass pyrex dishes.   Look at flea markets for the colored pyrex dishes with a glass top from the 50’s – they are fun, stackable and sturdy.  I don’t know why they quit making them.   Reusable one-size silicone lids that stretch to fit most containers are another perfect solution.  They are 100% airtight and are dishwasher and microwave safe.  A set of three lids costs $14.95 and can be ordered from reuseit.com.

Aluminum foil is convenient for keeping food hot at a buffet or while you wait for everyone to come to dinner, but it’s wasteful.  Chef’s Planet makes a reusable, silicone thermal food cover that can withstand heat up to 475 degrees and is machine washable.  Bed, Bath and Beyond sells them.

I usually line my cookie sheets with unbleached, totally chlorine-free, FSC-certified parchment paper, but it’s still single use.  Many people use aluminum foil to line a cookie sheet, but a better choice is a reusable parchment baking mat that can be cut to any size for a perfect fit.  It doesn’t absorb flavors or odors and can withstand temperatures up to 500 degrees.  Reusable silicone-coated baking sheet liners developed for French pastries are another great alternative.  There is no need to grease them and they roll up for compact storage.  Both can be found at Williams-Sonoma.

Even if you don’t entirely eliminate aluminum foil and plastic wrap from your kitchen, just substituting some of these cool, eco-practical alternatives some of the time, makes a difference.  Give them a try – I am!

Information compiled from Earth911.com.

 

 

GREEN QUESTIONS FROM READERS

Plastic wrap on top of a vessel.

Image via Wikipedia

Some of my readers emailed me with questions, which hopefully will be pertinent to you too.

Question:  Several of my colleagues microwave their lunches with plastic wrap.  I’ve heard this isn’t a good idea, but these people are intelligent professionals.  What do you think?

Answer: Intelligence doesn’t have anything to do with it.  It’s a matter of being informed.  Both the plastics industry and government health industries maintain that plastic wrap is safe to use, though consumer and environmental groups say otherwise.  Some plastic wraps could contain PVC or other chlorinated substances that can release dioxin, a known toxin and health hazard.  Saran Wrap has been reformulated to remove PVC and I imagine others have too.  But, who knows what’s in the new compounds? I always err on the side of caution and prefer to cover the food with a paper towel (unbleached) or natural wax paper. I also use glass microwave containers instead of plastic.  It is always important to use cookware specially manufactured for microwave use, and if you do cover with plastic wrap, the plastic should not touch the food.  Otherwise it could melt on your food.  You don’t want that!

Question:  I am a textile artist and wonder what to do with my leftover fabric scraps.

Many Ukrainian Christmas decorations are home ...

Image via Wikipedia

Also, how do I recycle wood and cardboard with paint on it?  Good for you for not throwing them away!  Every seamstress has the same problem I imagine.  One obvious solution is to reuse them for other projects such as fabric flower cards, bookmarks, pillowcases, beanbags, or gift-wrap.  There are endless suggestions online.  But you could also donate them to a preschool, kindergarten or arts school for their craft projects or contact a sewing shop to see if anyone needs fabric scraps for quilting, for example.  What about putting a notice on craigslist for an artist who might want fabric scarps? As far as recycling wood and cardboard with paint on them, it’s not a good idea to recycle painted wood.  Recycled wood is usually used for fuel or chipped for mulch.  Either way you wouldn’t want the paint toxins leaching into the soil or the air.  You can dispose of wood with latex or water-based paint in your trash, but wood with lead or oil based paints should be taken to hazardous waste collection.

Readers, send me your questions!  I’d love to answer them.

 

Information compiled from:

http://www.health.harvard.edu/fhg/updates/update0706a.shtml

http://www.fsis.usda.gov/factsheets/cooking_safely_in_the_microwave/index.asp#3; http://urbanlegends.about.com/library/

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