The introduction of plastic bags (for food and non-food use) simplified food storage in many cases. Nevertheless, this material has become one of the main environmental threats of our era, so much so that single-use plastics have been banned across most of Europe, not only in Italy.
Fortunately, there are plenty of alternatives in the kitchen that allow us to store foods – especially fruit and vegetables – without using plastic.
Why avoid plastic for preserving vegetables
Every year, 14 million tons of plastic finds its way into the oceans, damaging marine life and polluting ecosystems. We have to remember that plastic takes hundreds of years to biodegrade completely. What ends up in the environment today will also be there for future generations to deal with. The Archeoplastica awareness project videos show this clearly.
However, besides the environmental aspect, excessive use of plastic to store fruit and vegetables can have negative effects on our health, particularly with reference to generic products (like old shopping bags) and products not designed for food (such as freezer bags or transparent film).
Alternatives to plastic for storing fruit and vegetables
So, what do you use instead of the classic container, freezer bags and cling film? Here are some useful examples.
- Fabric or mesh bags: these are great for storing food like potatoes, onions or garlic in your food cupboards, but also some fruit, like apples.
- Glass or ceramic containers: hermetically sealed glass or ceramic dishes are a great alternative to plastic. They are sturdy and do not react chemically with foods and most containers on sale can also be used in the microwave without problems. These containers are also useful for storing dried pasta, rice or cereals and pulses.
- Paper or carton box packaging: a paper bread bag can be used for flour-based products, but also to divide vegetables in the fridge compartment so vegetables don’t touch and spoil.
- Beeswax sheets: this is a better alternative to cling film or aluminium foil. It can be used to wrap foods individually (like sandwiches for a picnic) and to cover prepared food before it goes in the fridge. You simply wash it with water and vinegar and when it’s dry, fold it and put it away like a cloth.
Storage without plastic: added benefits
One important aspect of storing food without plastic is saving money. By choosing reusable alternatives like bags, beeswax sheets and glass containers, you can actually reduce costs over the long term.
This is also another way to avoid waste: when food is stored properly, it lasts longer and is more likely to get eaten.
Reducing plastic is a small step towards cultivating a sustainable lifestyle. By choosing environmentally friendly alternatives, we are doing our bit to reduce environmental impact and live in harmony with our planet.