Tips and techniques

Plastic free food storage for sustainable living

The damage plastics are doing to our environment has us crying out for sustainable solutions for cooking and storing food. Here are several easy ways to keep a sustainable kitchen.

As we discover more about sustainable materials, many of the storage items we previously turned to suddenly don’t seem so appealing. Take plastic containers, for example; they take hundreds of years to break down, causing huge pollution risk.

Luckily, there’s a few basic swaps we can all make in our kitchen to ensure we’re making the best choices for both the environment and our family’s health:

Plastic storage containers

Swap for: Glass and stainless steel.

Try glass or food-grade stainless steel and tiffins. And don’t forget to recycle glass jars that foods come in. You’ll be able to find these at most kitchen shops, storage solution shops and specialist food shops.

Here are a few examples;

  • Kitchen Pro Glass and Steel spice canisters Set of 6 $24.95- Catch.com.au

  • Glass jars with steel lid 12 pack for $84.95 – Catch.com.au

  • Storage jar with coloured lid $ 52.99 – Hard to find

  • Vintage kitchen canisters – Set of 3 $46.50 – Etsy

  • Glass canisters – variety of sizes and prices ranging from $9.95 – $119.95 – Myer

Plastic wrap

Swap for: Bees wax-coated cloth.

This reusable solution is made from organic cotton muslin that has been coated in a thin layer of wax (some brands also include antibacterial tree resins); it can be used to wrap sandwiches, cover bowls and wrap most dry foods, even cheese.

It will mould to whatever you are covering, simply by applying the heat of your hands and comes in a range of sizes.

Beeswax Food Wraps are available $14.95 from Woolworths

Swap for: Linen bowl and pan covers.

These round linen reusable elastic-edged covers, look a little like a cute shower cap. Pop them over a bowl or dish, for either room temperature or fridge storage. You can buy these at health food stores, eco shops and online.

Many homemade options available at etsy in a rnage of sizes and prices.

You can also find tutorials online on how to make your own.

Try storing your homemade strawberry jam in a glass jar with linen bowls.

Plastic produce bags

Swap for: Reusable hemp produce bags.

These bags, which are available in a variety of sizes, offer some form of sealable top, ranging from a simple draw string to slide along closures. Made of breathable fabric they can be used as an alternative to plastic to store herbs and large vegetable in the fridge.

You can buy them from health food stores, eco shops and online.

Paper towels

Swap for: Linen tea towels

Long lasting good tea towels can be used to mop up spills and pat foods dry. Use newer ones to dry dishes and older ones for hardier dirtier kitchen tasks. Reusing cotton is far more sustainable than wasting single-use paper products and when it’s time to say goodbye, linen fabric (made from the flax plant) takes only about 3 months to break down after being thrown out.

Find yours at Myer.com.au

Plastic ice-cube trays

Swap for: Metal ice-cube trays

Not only are stainless steel trays more sustainable, they have the added advantage of freezing their contents faster.

The key is not to fill them to full to allow for expansion during freezing.

Find yours at Biome.com.au for $18.95.

*A version of this article originally appeared in The Sustainable Cookbook by The Australian Women’s Weekly.

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