Many of us have become over-reliant on plastic products for storing food. Plastic products such as zip-seal bags, wraps, freezer bags, lunch boxes, and other sealable containers dominate many people's lives. Despite some of these products can be recycled, only 9% of them are recycled worldwide and the rest end up in landfills and pollute our oceans.
So, what shall we do? The good news is…there are plenty of more sustainable alternatives to plastic products for food storage! Whether you need to pack lunches or snacks, store food in the refrigerator or the freezer, here are some sustainable alternatives to consider:
1. Stainless Steel Lunch Boxes / Containers
Stainless steel is a material that can be used for reusable lunch boxes or food storage containers. Despite – like any mined material – steel is not without its carbon cost, it is one way to avoid plastic bags that would be thrown away.
Stainless steel options will last for years and years, and so have a significantly low impact in the long term. When you pack your lunch in a reusable stainless steel container or use stainless steel containers in your fridge or freezer, you will be taking a great step to reduce your impact and move towards a zero waste lifestyle.
2. Silicone Options
Silicone is another more sustainable alternative to single use plastic bags and other plastic products. Unlike most plastics, which are most often made through the synthetic processing of fossil fuels, silicone is made with the raw material silica. Like fossil fuels, silica (found in the world's sands and quartz) is a non-renewable, finite resource. However, silica is a far more plentiful resource. The material required for its creation is not necessarily as costly to the environment to extract.
There are a huge range of sustainable food storage solutions that utilize this material. For example reusable silicone bags, silicone containers and silicone sealable lids (for a variety of other containers).
When we are talking about silicone, it is important to note that not all silicone products were created equal. Whenever you are choosing a silicone product, choose a high-quality food or medical grade option. Inferior quality products may contain fillers, which can be bad for the environment and which may even pose a threat to human health.
3. Glass Containers
Another option to consider are glass containers. Glass containers, like canning jars for example, can be a great way to keep food fresh. Glass jars can be reused to store food in a pantry, in your fridge, and even to freeze certain foods (leave a space at the top of the container to allow the contents to expand).
Glass containers are also safer (unlike plastic, there is no risk of harmful chemicals getting into the food or drinks that are packed in glass), easier to clean and 100% recyclable. They can be recycled endlessly without loss in quality or purity.
4. Beeswax Wraps
You can also consider the great potential of beeswax wraps, which are simply a cotton fabric impregnated with beeswax, tree resin and a natural oil such as jojoba oil. These wraps are great for covering leftovers in your fridge, keep your produce fresh and for wrapping snacks or lunches.Wash them with cold water (avoid heat sources) and mild soap. You can reuse them for a period of 6 months to 1 year, and then they can be ‘refreshed’ for continuous use. To see more about these eco wraps, you can have a look at our options.
5. Ceramic Containers
You should also consider using ceramic containers to store your food. They are very practical, since they can go straight from the dinner table to the refrigerator (some can then even go into an oven and microwave).
Sometimes, it could be sufficient to place the food in a ceramic bowl with a saucer over the top. Using things you already have in your kitchen rather than buying new is always a good option to consider.
Reducing our single-use plastic consumption is an environmentally responsible move. Plastic items takes until 1000 years to fully degrade and many find their way into the environment and ocean. According to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, up to 1 million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals and sea turtles die each year from eating plastic. Switching to sustainable alternatives will cut down your waste and reduce your impact on the planet.