Not clinging on to cling wrap (Day 218)…

cling wrap

Today’s change — to abandon cling wrap in favour of parchment paper, cheesecloth or other more natural materials — was suggested to me last night by my mother, which is ironic, because throughout my childhood she would always use cling wrap when packing my lunch for school.

At the time, I couldn’t care less about the environmental impact of this but would instead complain that she’d wrapped my sandwiches too tightly. And it was true — whatever foodstuffs were between the two slices of bread would inevitably have an aftertaste of plastic. On top of this, it was often the case that a juice box or yogurt container would smoosh up against the defenseless sandwich, so by the time I got around to peeling off the Saran wrap the substance underneath would be more like a peanut butter, banana and petroleum flavoured slurry.

Of course, I can’t complain, because if it were left up to me I’d probably have eaten Nutella and Wonderbread every day and subsequently be all twitchy and malnourished (so thanks, Mom — you’re the best!).

But getting back to the subject: To be perfectly honest, I’m not sure how much more eco-friendly parchment paper is compared to cling wrap, but I’m pretty sure it’s better by the fact that it’s paper-based rather than plastic, and surely it has to be better than aluminum foil, too. I’ve also got some unbleached, organic cotton cheesecloth, which should work just as well with some twine or an elastic band to keep it in place.

Photo of sandwich from a natural foods store, wrapped in unnatural packaging, courtesy of dvs on Flickr

27 Responses to Not clinging on to cling wrap (Day 218)…

  1. Denise says:

    What about Tupperware? one that’s the size of a sandwich. True, it’s plastic, but it’s reusable. so nothing goes to waste, and it can last for a long time. (and the sandwich doesn’t get squished in your bag)

  2. teaspoon says:

    I’m not sure that cheesecloth would keep your sandwich from getting stale. I vote for tupperware as well. Or you can save the plastic bags that your loaves of bread come in and use those for sandwiches.

  3. Sue says:

    If you’re anti-tupperware, you can try the wrap-n-mat, a sandwich wrap/placemat in one. Google it and you’ll find someone selling them. I’ve heard they smell like a new shower cutrain at first, but you could probably air one out before wrapping your sandwich, so it didn’t get all stinky.

    • Ann says:

      I wrap my sandwiches in a cloth serviette, furishiko-style, knotted in a parcel. Washed once a week, and nothing to throw away!

  4. besweet says:

    Foil is very easy to recycle, but can also be rewashed and reused. I almost never use a piece of foil just once before putting it in the blue bin.

    If the wrap-n-mat smells like a new shower curtain, it’s probably made with PVC. I’m not too particular about plastics, but that’s one I wouldn’t want around my food.

  5. Even better than Tupperware are the glass Pyrex food storage containers. And if you were using your oven- you could take food leftovers right from the fridge into the over without using another dish for reheating- or eating for that matter.

  6. Hellcat13 says:

    Yup, I’m a reusable tupperware fan myself. I like the little compartmentalized ones, so you can throw in pretzels and pickles, too, and have a little smorgasbord 🙂 (or however you spell it).

    Teaspoon, that’s a great idea for bread bags…that’s why I love this blog. Simple little suggestions that never crossed my mind. I suppose you could use cleaned out milk bags, too. (Unless you’re lucky enough to be near a store that sells milk in those lovely 4L jugs.)

  7. just ducky says:

    Wrap-n-mats are great! It is true that some are made with PVC lining, but now the company offers some with PEVA lining as well. check out there website for more info:

    Also, I like the Tupperware sandwich keepers. They are washable/reusable/uncrushable so your sandwich doesn’t smell/taste like anything it shouldn’t and it doesn’t get crushed! That’s always a bonus.

  8. Hellcat13 says:

    Sheesh, I was all on board with the wrap-n-mats until I found out it’s 25$ shipping to Canada for two of them! Anybody know where to find them in the Ottawa area? I did a quick Google search and couldn’t find anything…

  9. gettinggreen says:

    Haha — did any of you watch the Wrap ‘n’ Mat demo video on the website? It’s hysterical. I love the kid who doesn’t have the wrap ‘n’ mat when she takes a bite of her boring sandwich and looks over at the other kid with one of those classic “WHOA! What the?!” expressions.

    Yeah, for sandwiches, I have tupperware contatiners. I guess I was thinking more about other stuff I’d use cling wrap for, like covering the tops of half-eaten cans of beans or cucumbers or whatnot.

  10. katecontinued says:

    I am delighted to come across a solution used in Japan. It is called Furoshiki .

  11. katecontinued says:

    Speaking of Japan, bento boxes are a fantastic solution. I have looked at hundreds of Flickr images of beautiful lunch boxes.

  12. birdandbee says:

    I definitely agree that glass containers are the way to go. there are a lot of well-documented issues with plastics, and as great as tupperware can be (my mom used to be a tupperware lady so i grew up with it), a lot of it still isn’t suitable for microwave or dishwasher use. to me, this just means that something in it must be kind of creepy. also, you can either buy glass containers (with glass or plastic lids) at places like ikea or even target pretty cheaply or i think the best way to get some glass containers is to reuse reuse reuse. anytime you buy a locally-made jar of jelly or salsa or something, you can wash it out and put your green beans or whatever in. Canning jars work really well for everything from flour to nuts, too.

  13. Rhett says:

    I’m curious– what about those times when you haven’t eaten all day, you’re hungry, you’re frustrated and tired, and you have no food in the house…so you stop by Whole Foods or something and the sandwiches all come in cling film?

    I ask because this is a situation I face all too often. We’re pretty good at reuse over in the Little Green Apartment That Could, but we haven’t solved this problem for situations where we’re on the go or on the road.

  14. just ducky says:

    Gotta say…I agree with birdandbee…if you buy something in a small jar like jam or olives, you could just wash it out when you are done and put your beans from the half-eaten can of beans in there. Since your mom is a doctor…what does she say about leaving the beans in the can? My mom is an “old school” nurse and she has always been vehemently opposed to leaving food in a can in the fridge—don’t ask me why—it is something about the metal and bacteria and food…but I would be interested to learn if your mom thinks that is OK from a doc’s perspective or if she thinks it’s risky.

  15. cheaplikeme says:

    Or put the leftovers in a bowl and cover it with a plate. We have some little saucer/plates we bought at Goodwill that mostly go to this use.

  16. emily says:

    Two weeks ago, I washed and re-used plastic bags for the first time. I had picked up some friends’ CSA share while they were out of town, and rather than having all the shareholders weigh their portions of beans and potatoes, everybody just got a bag with the proper amount! I felt so disappointed: here it was, excellent local food, and it was in plastic!! (It was high-quality plastic, too, not just “thank you” bags or the thin type you buy for the freezer.) I just rinsed the bags and then turned them inside out over wine bottles, all the wooden spoons standing up in a glass, etc, until they were dry. I think my husband thought I was taking it too far. But I haven’t let him have much of a say on the eco-front lately, I think, so he didn’t even try!

  17. Ann says:

    Ive really been enjoying your blog [almost] right from the beginning. Small steps do help!! My only concern was when you talk about your changes as part of your 365 day challenge. I try my best to be green, and am no where near you, but please say your going to continue being green on day 366…the only reason i bring this up is I recently came across another blog that said this:

    “But wait, Thistle. I’m wasting my time. Quill and Quire blew the gaff on you. The whole blog is a publicity stunt to promote your forthcoming book, isn’t it? I mean – you’re actually doing all these things, but the idea is to buy your book next year and read it all again. Will it be on recyclable paper? If not – sorry, it’s not Green enough for me.”

    Is it true? (not that I’m against a book…just kinda confused over which came first…the book or the blog…)

  18. Kristijoy says:

    Just use cloth napkins. You can even make them out of old clothes and sheets and stuff. Just hem up the sides.
    My freind made lunch sacks recently out of old pants.

  19. gettinggreen says:

    Hey Rhett — I totally feel your pain! The only time I can ever find an organic, sustainable sandwich when I’m on the go, it’s always wrapped in plastic (or worse comes in styrofoam). This is why I have to be really careful about packing lunches in advance and taking containers with me for spontaneous purchases. Sometimes, though, if you’re at a place like Tim Horton’s or Subway, you can get them to make a veggie sandwich and just hand it to you without any wrapping at all.

    To respond to Ann (and, in turn, the senseofbalance blog): There is, indeed, a book in the works that will chronicle my challenge, however this only came about MONTHS after I began this project. I never, EVER expected this to turn into anything bigger than a blog and the last thing I’m doing this for is publicity. It was started out of a genuine concern about the environment and my frustration in feeling like I couldn’t do enough. Of course, I’ll look into printing it in the most sustainable way possible, on 100% post-consumer recycled paper, soy or vegetable based inks, electronic formats, paperless press releases, etc.

  20. senseofbalance says:

    Credit where it’s due. Thanks for your courteous (and articulate!) replies. Because my blog records first reactions, I’m not going to alter it; but want to go on record with you.

    Sense of B.

  21. Judith says:

    Another idea for you: My daughter uses a tiffin to take her lunch to school. Here’s an example:

    We got ours from a neighbor hadn’t used it since bringing it home from Thailand years ago.

  22. In L.A. says:

    Back in the day before cling wrap (which, I seem to recall, started coming out in about 1965 or so), my mother (and everyone else) used waxed paper sandwich bags. I can still find them. Waxed paper helps keep the freshness in but doesn’t promote growth (the stuff inside doesn’t sweat like in plastic). You might have to look carefully to find it but I believe most stores still carry it. You can also buy it in rolls (like you buy foil) for bigger items or if you like doing neat box folds on your sandwich wrapping. *s*.

    When I was a kid, you bought meat from the butcher counter at the store and it was wrapped in paper (like they still do with seafood). No plastic film, no styrofoam “plate” for it to rest on. Sigh.

    I personally don’t like the Tupperware because it also promotes sweating/growth of who-knows-what-it-is-but-I-don’t-want-to-eat-it!


  23. Hello,

    I noticed a thread looking for Wrap N Mats in Canada.

    I’ve just started to carry the Wrap N Mats our website is based out of Toronto Canada. $7.99 plus taxes and shipping (shipping $3 per placemat).

    Hope this helps!

    Patricia Binnendyk

  24. Kim Michaud says:

    We will be carrying wrap n mats on our website. We are based out of Ottawa. We will have a variey of colors and sizes available within 1 week. I am a new online eco friendly store. We have, stainless steel waterbottles, glass baby bottles, alfi iso thermos bottles, universal stone cleaner, earthlust stainless steel bottles and much more.

    Thank you.
    Kim Michaud

  25. Mantelli says:

    Ummm…how on earth do you folks manage to handle glass packaging when you have to carry your lunch in a brown bag on public transport? I often drop my work bag, and I wouldn’t feel safe with a sandwich in a glass container. I wouldn’t trust it in a shared refrigerator where I work, either. About sixty people share our three fridges, and anything short of tempered glass (i.e. Corning Ware) is bound to be shattered by the way people shove things around in the fridge looking for their lunches.

  26. Monica says:

    Matelli – I use a combination of glass containers and stainless steel containers for my lunch, and I come to work by public transit or bicycle. Nothing has ever broken. I don’t put it in the fridge at work — I just bring ice packs. Yes, my lunch is enormous and takes up a lot of space!

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