Scrap the Plastic Wrap

Plastic “cling film” wrap has become prevalent in most of our kitchens. It proves handy for wrapping food items and sealing kitchen containers. Many households use several rolls of plastic wrap per year, which makes its way to the waste stream after a single use.

But plastic wrap is usually made from PVC, which is made from chlorine (57% by mass) and petroleum by-products. The PVC is generally combined with plasticizers (especially Phthalates) to make it more soft and flexible. Studies have shown that endocrine disrupters can leach from plastic film into food wrapped in the film. For more information, see a study performed by Consumers Union) in 1998.

How can you kick the plastic wrap habit? First, review how you are using it. For storing food items in your refrigerator, consider using reusable storage containers (ideally glass ones) instead. For packing lunches, opt for either a compartmentalized lunch box (see our laptop lunch system) and/or reusable, PVC-free sandwich wrap.

Or, you can make your own non-toxic, reusable plastic wrap alternative. You will need the following materials:
  • Pieces of fabric (preferably sheeting weight) cut into squares the size of a cookie sheet
  • Beeswax votive candles
  • Parchment paper or a Silpat
  • Vegetable peeler
  • Clothespins, safety pins or paper clamps
  • Scissors or a paper cutter
Warm your oven to 150° F. Line your cookie sheets with parchment paper (or the Silpat), and place fabric on top.

Use a vegetable peeler to shave beeswax from the candles onto your fabric. You will need only a small amount – use a small test piece of fabric to help you understand how much wax is needed to get adequate coverage for the fabric (probably less than you think!).

Place the cookie sheet with the fabric and wax shavings into the oven. After the wax has melted over the fabric (8 or 9 minutes), remove from the oven. Use clothespins, safety pins, or clamps to hang the fabric to dry, about 5 minutes.

When wrapping food items or sealing containers, use an appropriate sized rubber band or length of string to secure the wrap. You can get many uses out of the home-made wrap. When it requires cleaning, use cold water and mild detergent and leave it to dry.