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 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.