How to store your food sustainably

More than ever, we are learning that items which were once designed for our convenience, such as plastics, have turned out to be doing harm to the environment and our health.

As we discover more about sustainable materials, many of the storage items we previously turned to suddenly don't seem so appealing. Take plastic containers, for example; they take hundreds of years to break down, causing huge pollution risk.

Luckily, there's a few basic swaps we can all make in our kitchen to ensure we're making the best choices for both the environment and our family's health:

Plastic storage containers

Swap for: Glass and stainless steel.

Try glass or food-grade stainless steel and tiffins. And don’t forget to recycle glass jars that foods come in. You'll be able to find these at most kitchen shops, storage solution shops and specialist food shops.

Plastic wrap

Swap for: Bees wax-coated cloth.

This reusable solution is made from organic cotton muslin that has been coated in a thin layer of wax (some brands also include antibacterial tree resins); it can be used to wrap sandwiches, cover bowls and wrap most dry foods, even cheese.

It will mould to whatever you are covering, simply by applying the heat of your hands and comes in a range of sizes.

Swap for: Linen bowl and pan covers.

These round linen reusable elastic-edged covers, look a little like a cute shower cap. Pop them over a bowl or dish, for either room temperature or fridge storage. You can buy these at health food stores, eco shops and online.

You can also find tutorials online on how to make your own.

Try storing your [homemade strawberry jam](|target="_blank") in a glass jar with linen bowls.
Try storing your homemade strawberry jam in a glass jar with linen bowls.

Plastic zip-lock bags

Swap for: Reusable hemp produce bags.

These bags, which are available in a variety of sizes, offer some form of sealable top, ranging from a simple draw string to slide along closures. Made of breathable fabric they can be used as an alternative to plastic to store herbs and large vegetable in the fridge.

You can buy them from health food stores, eco shops and online.

Paper towels

Swap for: Linen tea towels

Long lasting good tea towels can be used to mop up spills and pat foods dry. Use newer ones to dry dishes and older ones for hardier dirtier kitchen tasks.

Plastic ice-cube trays

Swap for: Metal ice-cube trays

Switching to stainless steel trays is particularly pertinent if this is your preferred method of storing baby foods. Stainless steel has the added advantage of freezing the contents faster.

The key is not to fill them to full to allow for expansion during freezing.

This article originally appeared in The Sustainable Cookbook by The Australian Women's Weekly. They've shared some beautiful recipes from the book below:

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