Since we bought our house in 2020, we have not purchased a single roll of plastic wrap. We don’t need to! There are so many sustainable plastic wrap alternatives…We’re spoiled for choices! Learn about 8 great alternatives to plastic wrap in this post.
Going plastic-free is a step towards zero waste
A lot of people are hoping to live more sustainably, but they just aren’t sure how or they don’t have the money to invest in expensive alternatives.
It is wild to think about how cheap and prevalent plastic is, yet sustainable alternatives often cost more.
Although plastic wrap is not typically very expensive, reusable plastic wrap alternatives can save you money in the long run! It may take a while to recoup your investment, but $30 worth of bowl covers should last many years.
Start by using the items you have on hand first, making whatever you can, or buying from sustainable sellers.
What is plastic wrap?
There are typically two types of plastic wrap. Initially, all plastic wrap was made from PVC, or polyvinyledene chlorine. Because the chloride has environmental issues, some companies like Saran Wrap switched to something called LDPE, or low-density polyethylene. (Source)
Plastic wrap is formed by melting down plastic granules and then stretching them out in a huge bubble. The bubbles are pressed between large metal rollers and then they are rolled up for storage.
Is plastic wrap bad for the environment?
Yes! First of all, plastic wrap is typically not recyclable in standard recycling facilities. It should not be included in your recycling bin and should instead of returned to those recycling boxes at grocery stores that reclaim plastic bags and other films.
Double-check that your service will even accept plastic wrap as it is not always included. (Source) To be accepted and recycled, you need to make sure your plastic wrap is clean of food particles and debris. Remove any tags or labels.
Unfortunately, if PVC plastic wrap is sent to a landfill or even incinerated, it releases a harmful compound called dioxin. (Source) This is only for products made of PVC and some plastic wrap companies do not use that material anymore.
It can also become a bane to the recycling facility as the wrap will get caught in equipment and cause safety risks for workers. (Source)
All of this means that typically, your plastic wrap needs to head to the landfill where it will contribute to pollution and the rise of greenhouse gases.
That’s if the plastic wrap stays put! Plastic films are so lightweight, they easily fly off of landfills.
When it makes it to water animals like sea turtles mistake plastic wrap and grocery bags for jellyfish. (Source) Consuming the plastic can either kill the turtle right away or make them more buoyant, which stunts their growth and slows their reproduction.
Our Favorite Plastic Wrap Alternatives for a Zero Waste Kitchen
There are so many alternatives to plastic wrap these days! So many companies are finding creative, long-lasting alternatives that you can use again and again.
We prefer using products we already have on hand, like reusable glass storage containers and mason jars. Pick 1 or 2 plastic wrap alternatives to add to your kitchen and leave the rest behind!
Fabric Bowl Covers
Reusable bowl covers are so handy! This is actually our #1 go-to for any food wrap. They’re great for covering salads, potato salad, rising dough, etc.
I first ordered some bowl covers on Etsy and then picked up a few more at a local craft fair. Be sure get a few different sizes to cover all the main bowls in your house.
Piece of advice: Find ones with two layers of fabric or a waxed liner to help keep in moisture. We accidentally ordered one that just had one layer of fabric, and it allowed our salads to dry out.
Honestly, I recommend finding ones you think are pretty or cute. You’ll use them more often if you just love to look at them!
The person we ordered from is no longer selling them. If I had to buy new ones, I’d get these double-sided bowl covers on Etsy!
There are stretchy silicone lids you can use to cover any container! We have some of these on our wishlist because the Pyrex plastic lids warp and break so fast. These might be a better option.
Storing glass containers will silicone lids may be a longer-lasting solution than buying more Pyrex brand lids. They can get pricey, though!
Biodegradable Food Wraps
You can make or purchase reusable food wraps made from beeswax or a plant-based alternative like soy wax. Natural waxes and fabrics make food wraps a biodegradable plastic wrap alternative!
We recently made our own beeswax wraps using some leftover beeswax from a candle I made that didn’t burn well. We melted it on the stove and carefully coated some sheets of natural undyed cotton I got from a thrift store.
I made a variety of sizes to accommodate whatever we might need to pack! They make great sandwich wraps, cheese coverings, and even for folding into little travel pouches.
Eco Friendly Food Storage Containers
You can use glass or stainless steel food storage containers for a wide variety of purposes, storing diced onions, leftovers, soups, etc. They’re great for smaller items!
Personally, we prefer to use glass as it is microwave safe and inexpensive.
We use Pyrex and also have 2 sets of glass containers from Costco.
We have so many mason jars…every size, every shape…We use them especially for storing leftover liquids, sauces, and soups.
One plastic item we did buy was reusable replacement lids for our mason jars. I know…that’s plastic. I find that they seal quite well, especially for liquids, and they last forever. We’ve had some lids already for years and years. We anticipate having our lids for decades.
They are a little more convenient than the regular lids, which have a lid and rim. The typical mason jar lids can be fussy to remove from jars you open frequently and the plastic lids help us keep up our sustainable lifestyle stress-free.
They look like this. We get ours at local farm stores or hardware stores in the canning section.
Silicone Sandwich Bags
A few years ago, I ordered 2 sets of silicone bags from Full Circle. I have two sandwich-sized bags and a handful of their tiny snack pouches.
These are sturdier than beeswax pouches and waterproof! We even bring these when we’re traveling.
You can freeze silicone bags or even heat them up, so these are one of the best replacements for ziploc bags and plastic wrap out there!
Reusable Cloth Bags
These fabric bags are really just like plastic sandwich bags made out of cloth. They’re perfect for storing dry foods like popcorn, nuts, and PB & J.
Look for ones with fewer parts that could become damaged like zippers or clasps.
One super easy plastic wrap substitute for covering large bowls is to use a dinner plate! They are not totally air-tight, but they work in a pinch and cost you absolutely nothing!
Silicone Food Wrap
This is a totally new product for me! Basically, you can get a sheet of silicone that you can press stretch across the container you need to cover.
This reusable silicone plastic wrap is like having a sheet of plastic wrap you can reuse over and over again.
Specific Alternatives to Plastic Wrap
Sometimes you need an alternative to cling film for a specific purpose. Here’s what we do in these specific real food cooking situations.
Alternative to plastic wrap for dough
We wrap up pie crust or pastry in biodegradable parchment paper.
Alternative to plastic wrap for freezing
We typically freeze directly in our glass food storage containers or in a glass mason jar! We also reuse plastic storage bags.
Alternative to plastic wrap for packing leftovers
With a big family that loves to eat over, we often want to send people home with leftovers. This is the only time I ever wish I had saran wrap! We have some biodegradable paper plates in our pantry and have covered them in tin foil in the past.
Be aware that tin foil isn’t that good for the environment either.
Somehow, we end up with cheap plastic containers that we’ve brought home from different family members or sometimes we have empty yogurt containers. We like to fill these up and send them on to their new homes!
Is there a plastic wrap substitute for the microwave?
We don’t microwave with plastic wrap at all and don’t recommend you do either. When you heat up plastic wrap, it can release a variety of compounds into your food.
Instead, we heat food uncovered (and clean up later) or we sometimes put a small plate over the container to keep anything from flying up.
You could most likely find a plastic microwave bowl cover at a thrift store, too.
Is compostable plastic wrap an option?
Compostable cling wrap does exist! Honestly…I don’t think this is really a sustainable or frugal alternative.
You’re still requiring your biodegradable plastic wrap to be manufactured when you could use a reusable bowl cover that only needs to be made once.
Beyond that, the price for the compostable plastic wrap is ridiculous. One box typically sells for $10-15.
It’s way cheaper to invest in beeswax wraps, fabric bowl covers, or silicone bowl covers.
You can get a pack of bowl covers for about $20-30 that will last you years and years.
What is the best sustainable plastic wrap alternative?
With a cupboard of glass containers and a few fabric bowl covers, we’re happy with our food storage setup.
We do use our beeswax wraps and I think silicone lids would outlast the poor quality Pyrex plastic lids we have.
The best alternative to plastic wrap is the one you’ll use! I recommend picking just 1-2 products from this list and adding them to your rotation.
Set up a real food zero-waste kitchen
Learn how to set up a zero waste kitchen so you can help reduce your contribution to this cycle & save money today!
Learn more about setting up a sustainable kitchen here:
- Zero Waste Pantry Staples
- 80+ Zero and Low Waste Frugal Food Hacks
- Sustainable Baking Essentials for Beginners
Do you have a favorite plastic wrap alternative? Tell us in the comments!