These options won’t contribute to single-use plastic waste accumulating in the natural environment. They are sustainable ways and over time will save you money.
Storage solutions like the ones I’ve mentioned here can be used repeatedly for several years meaning less waste and fewer resources going into reproducing such products. It also means less outlay in costs by you.
My choice would be a selection of these. Examples of non-plastic food storage ideas:
- Glass bottles/jars for pantry items
- Glass or stainless steel containers for storing raw meat in the fridge
- Glass freezer-safe containers for fridge or freezer storage
- Stainless steel containers for lunch boxes
- Beeswax wraps for anything you’d use plastic wrap for
- Cloth bags for grains, especially, but also for potatoes and onion
Here’s what to know about each…
Glass containers, safe and sustainable
Glass is a durable and long-lasting material. Unlike plastic, glass does not degrade or break down over time, making it a better investment in the long run.
Leak-proof, freezer, microwave, oven and dishwasher safe – available at Amazon
Glass does not absorb odours or stains in the same way that plastic does, which means that your food will stay fresher for longer in a glass container.
Unlike plastic, glass does not contain harmful chemicals like BPA or phthalates, which can leach into your food. This is particularly important if you plan to heat your food in the container, as heat can cause plastic to release these chemicals.
What You Mightn’t like about using glass
- Glass is heavier and more fragile than plastic – it takes more care to handle, transport and store
- Glass containers are often more expensive than plastic ones, which can be a barrier for some buyers
Just be sure to handle your glass containers with care to prevent breakage.
Stainless steel containers
What’s good about stainless steel is it is non-porous, which means it won’t absorb food odours or stains like plastic can.
Metal Bento Box – available at Amazon
This makes it a great choice for storing strong-smelling or colourful foods like curry or tomato sauce.
Stainless steel is more durable and long-lasting than plastic.
It’s less likely to crack or break, and won’t warp or melt in the dishwasher or microwave. This means you can use stainless steel containers for years, reducing the amount of waste you generate.
Another benefit is – Stainless steel is infinitely recyclable, whereas plastic can only be recycled a limited number of times before it degrades.
Downsides to using stainless steel food storage solutions
- They can be more expensive than plastic containers, especially if you opt for high-quality brands
- Stainless steel is not microwave-safe, so you’ll need to transfer food to a microwave-safe dish before reheating
- Some people find that stainless steel containers are heavier and more difficult to transport than plastic containers
Beeswax wraps are a great alternative to traditional plastic food wraps, aka cling wrap. I wrote about how you can make your own very easily.
- They are reusable, which makes them more eco-friendly than disposable plastic wraps.
- Beeswax wraps are made from natural materials, which means you don’t need to worry about harmful chemicals leaching into your food.
- They are also biodegradable, which means they won’t contribute to landfill waste as single-use plastic does.
Beeswax wraps can be used to wrap sandwiches, cover bowls and plates, and wrap fruits and vegetables.
They are more breathable than plastic wraps, which means your food shouldn’t go soggy. But, on the flip side, because they are not airtight, some foods can dry out – Cheese is one example I avoid with these for this reason.
Other cons to using beeswax wraps for food storage
- They are not suitable for use with hot foods, as the wax coating can melt or transfer to the food
- Using them with raw meat can be problematic because of cross-contamination
- They are more expensive than disposable plastic wraps as an initial outlay but being reusable evens this out in the long run
Cloth food bags
You can get cloth food bags made of natural materials like cotton or linen.
What Food items are best stored in cloth food bags
Cloth food bags are perfect for storing:
- Grains such as rice, quinoa and oats
- Nuts and seeds
Pros of Cloth food bags
- Reusable, you can wash them and use them again and again.
- They are also breathable.
- Typically available in a variety of sizes, making them versatile for storing different types of foods
Cons of using cloth food bags
- Not that effective for keeping foods that need an airtight seal. Bread is one example I’ve found with dry out when stored in cloth bags.
- Cloth food bags need to be washed and aired properly to dry to prevent mould or bacteria growth
Benefits of silicon bags for food storage
Silicone bags are airtight and leak-proof, which keeps food fresh for longer periods compared to plastic bags.
They also do not contain any harmful chemicals such as BPA, PVC, or phthalates, which can leach from plastic bags into food.
Negatives of using silicone bags
They are of course more expensive than throw-away plastic bags or cling wrap. However, over time your investment pays off.
They can be difficult to clean if food is stuck in the corners or crevices of the bag.
While silicone bags are generally considered safe for food storage, it is important to note that they are not completely free of chemicals. In rare cases, silicone bags can leach small amounts of silica, a naturally occurring mineral, into food. However, the amount of silica that can leach from silicone bags is considered safe and poses no significant health risks.