There was a time when I believed that cling wrap and paper towel were necessities. After all, I’d been purchasing those two items for over twenty years not knowing there were sustainable alternatives.
Turns out I’d been throwing my money away buying these items as they are completely unnecessary.
I shudder to think about all the single use plastic in the form of cling wrap that I’ve added to the environment. I’ve contributed to the plastic pollution problem facing the next 16 generations. And then there’s all the trees cut down to make paper towel…
Whilst I’m not proud of my previous consumer habits, the fact is you don’t know what you don’t know.
We now all know how bad plastics are for the environment. And there’s the recent added concern about microplastics in our water and food and thus in our bodies. They’ve also been found in the air we breathe.
At home, we still have a roll of plastic cling wrap in our pantry, left over from the days when we believed we couldn’t manage a kitchen without it.
Now we’re stuck in limbo with what to do with it as we no longer ‘need’ it, yet don’t want to throw it away as it’s wasting resources and contributing to plastic pollution.
One of the most common uses for cling wrap is to cover food when heating it in the microwave. No one wants a splattered mess to clean up when all you want to do is eat your food.
Instead of cling wrap, we now cover our food with a plate or if it is an awkward shape, cover it with a serviette.
We keep a glass jar with rolled up serviettes next to the microwave just for this purpose. (The serviettes are not very glamorous and are more squares of overlocked fabric.)
Serviettes can be so yesteryear however they are extremely useful as they can be washed and reused over and over again. I even use them to separate layers of food in a container in the freezer.
They’re also useful for food wraps such as a salad in a tortilla as it can be neatly wrapped in a serviette and placed in a lunchbox to stop it falling apart in transit.
And, of course, serviettes can be used to wipe your hands and mouth.
Our nicer serviettes are made from tablecloth fabric bought for a couple of dollars from the opportunity shop. The tablecloth was then cut into squares and neatly pressed with an iron and hemmed.
What about food in the fridge, raw meat or left overs? Don’t they need cling wrap to keep them fresh?
What they need is a reusable container with a lid. Ideally, we’d have a collection of an assortment of stainless steel containers but they are just too expensive. We’ve settled for glass containers with plastic lids until we can find an eco-friendly non-plastic affordable alternative.
Another container option is a glass jar. They are great for storing food in the fridge and pantry.
What’s even better is you don’t need to buy glass jars. Simply wash the empty jars food was previously purchased in and soak off the labels overnight in hot soapy water. You’ll be surprised how quickly your glass jar collection will build up.
If you’re lucky enough to live in a progressive area, you’ll be able to buy your food, deli supplies and fresh meat in your own containers.
The beauty with beeswax wraps is that they are tacky and resemble cling wrap in their ability to stick to itself.
They are also reusable and can be used repeatedly for around one year and then composted as they are 100% natural.
Beeswax wraps are handy for wrapping your sandwich, wrapping a block of cheese or cut up fruit or vegetables, and covering food in the fridge.
I’ve recently discovered that if I sew two beeswax wraps together and make a pouch that I can store bread without a plastic bag. Beeswax pouches are also handy for keeping fruit and vegetables fresh.
Paper towels were invented in 1907 and have since become a part of daily modern life. Unfortunately, they are also incredibly bad for the environment.
Approximately 110 million trees are cut down each year to make paper towels. To add to this environmental impact, paper towels may have been treated with dioxins to make to towel more absorbent, and chlorine bleach to give it a white colour.
You cannot recycle used paper towels. They end up being buried in landfill contributing to world’s rising methane gas problem.
Shockingly, Australia wears the unenviable crown of being the world’s largest consumer of paper products per person in the world. America and Canada are not far behind.
Paper towel has become so commonplace that we use it to wipe surfaces clean, cover food in the microwave, dry our hands in public restrooms, use it as a disposable serviette at home or when eating out, soaking up grease from oily food and many other cleaning applications.
Paper Towel Alternatives
Thankfully, paper towel alternatives are very cheap and easy to find.
Simply cut up your old towels into small to medium sized squares or rectangles. If you have an overlocker or a sewing machine it’s a good idea to overlock or hem the edges to stop the towel fraying.
We have a collection of cut up old towels in various sizes which are used in the kitchen and bathroom. They are stored in the linen cupboard and laundry for easy access.
These cut up towels are incredibly versatile and are washed in the washing machine like any other towel between uses.
They can even be used to clean a sandwich press. Keep the sandwich press hot, dampen the towel and clean the surfaces. Then put the towel in the laundry to wash later.
I love my child’s kindergarten’s eco-friendly outlook. Instead of supplying paper towel in the bathroom for drying hands, each child brings a face washer or small towel with a loop attached. These are then placed on individual hooks to be used as their own personal hand towel.
You know those paper cups that cupcakes, muffins and mini quiches are baked in – they’re unnecessary as well.
Not long ago I found out that if you grease the ‘cups’ of the baking tray and lightly flour or breadcrumb them then the cooked food slides easily out. Without any need to use a single disposable paper patty pan.
I urge you to ditch plastic cling wrap, paper towel and patty pans.
By doing so not only are you making a positive choice for the environment but you are also saving money.
This is an easy eco-friendly and frugal change that will help you on your way to financial freedom.
How have you been able to reduce your usage of cling wrap, paper towel and patty pans?
Please comment below to share your ideas.