Going plastic-free is tough, and the list of things to replace in order to lead a more eco-friendly life can feel endless. But there’s no point waiting for a moment when you feel ready to banish all single-use plastic from your house – it’s something that can be done gradually.
The best way to go about your plastic detox is to focus on one item at a time and work on replacing that with a sustainable alternative. Some are more straightforward than others – most of us probably have a reusable water bottle or coffee cup, for example. Whether they’re plastic-free is another thing, of course, but everyone starts with baby steps.
Recently, I decided to look beyond my own lifestyle choices and inflict my eco-sanctimony on my family home. A good place to start with this, I decided, was the kitchen. One thing I noticed that was used and thrown away a lot in my household was cling film.
According to The Telegraph, more than 1.2 billion metres of cling film is used by British households every year, enough to go around the circumference of the world 30 times over. It’s difficult to recycle and the information about how to do is often difficult to come by. This means that more often than not, it ends up in landfill. Like plastic bags, it can also end up in the sea, where turtles and other animals confuse it for jellyfish and choke when they try to feed on it.
My first foray into plastic-free cling film was from the brand Vegan Food Wraps, the self-proclaimed “reusable, plastic-free vegan alternative to cling film.” I purchased these from a speciality zero-waste shop but they can be found online too. I got their Small Kitchen Pack, which contains one small wrap and one medium wrap and costs around £10.
As well as being made without plastic, they’re soy free and don’t contain palm oil. They’re handmade using organic cotton and contain different kinds of wax (sunflower, sumac, rice bran), jojoba oil, and pine resin. You use the warmth of your hands to seal them around leftover food or over the top of bowls and plates. It’s good to use for up to a year and then you can compost it.
They do the job, sure, but they’re expensive. Affordability is a huge issue in the sustainability movement, from vegan food to eco-friendly clothing brands, and it can often feel out of reach if you don’t have a lot of disposable income. They also don’t ‘cling’ to things as well as you’d expect them to, which is a slight issue when looking for an alternative to cling film.
The next product I tried is from the brand CoverMate. These aren’t plastic-free, unfortunately, but they are reusable – you can even put them in the dishwasher. They’re stretch-to-fit food covers made of 100% food safe and FDA compliant materials.
Most importantly, they’re a lot more suited to a student budget. They’re around £2 and you can get them from Waitrose, Lakeland, and Amazon. Although they’re not ideal, they’re definitely a step in the right direction as they’re not single-use. Their cost also makes them a lot more accessible, which is a huge plus.
So, while going plastic-free is an important and necessary goal to aspire to, a good starting point is to cut out the single-use products you utilise on a daily basis. You don’t need to be one of the handful doing the plastic-free lifestyle perfectly, but, ideally, you do need to use less cling film.