How to buy and store food without plastic

Plastic and health

According to the Center for Biological Diversity, plastic bags are responsible for the deaths of 100 marine animals a year. However, few people know about the harmful effects of plastic on the human body.

A growing body of scientific evidence suggests that chemicals such as bisphenol A (BPA) found in plastics can enter the human body simply by skin contact. They also enter the body through eating plastic-wrapped food or drinking water from plastic bottles. BPA and related molecules such as Bishpenol S (BPS) mimic the composition of human hormones and can affect the endocrine system. Disruption of this system can have wide-ranging consequences affecting “metabolism, growth, sexual function and sleep,” according to The Guardian. The US Food and Drug Administration has banned the use of these chemicals in baby bottles and feeding bowls due to concerns that BPA buildup could lead to neurobehavioral and immune system problems.

Plastic and supermarkets

Many supermarkets have also joined the fight against plastic. UK supermarket chain Iceland has promised to be plastic-free by 2023. Brand Managing Director Richard Walker said: “Retailers are responsible for a major contributor to plastic pollution. We are abandoning it in order to achieve real and lasting change.” In its February product line, the store has already used paper-based trays for its own brand products. American supermarket chain Trader Joe’s has committed to reducing plastic waste by more than 1 million pounds. They have already made important changes to their packaging, removing styrofoam from production and also stopping offering plastic bags. Australian chain Woolworths went plastic-free, resulting in an 80% reduction in plastic consumption in 3 months. It is important for shoppers to understand that the use of reusable shopping bags can greatly affect the amount of plastic used.

Alternatives to plastic

Glass containers. Jars and containers of different sizes can be used to store dry food, as well as to store ready-made meals in the refrigerator. 

Paper bags. In addition to being compostable, paper bags are ideal for storing berries as they absorb excess moisture.

Cotton bags. Cotton bags can be used to store groceries, as well as take out shopping from the supermarket. The open weave of these materials allows the products to breathe.

Wax wipes. Many choose beeswax wraps as an environmentally friendly alternative to cling film. You can also find vegan versions that use soy wax, coconut oil, and tree resin. 

Stainless steel containers. Such containers are not only sold, but also left over from already eaten products. For example, from cookies or tea. Give them a second life!

Silicone food pads. Silicone does not react with food or drink and does not produce any hazardous emissions. Such coasters are convenient to use for half-eaten fruits and vegetables. 

Silicone storage bags. Silicone storage bags are great for storing cereals and liquids.

In addition to cutting out plastic, you can also store your products smarter to extend their shelf life and thus reduce waste. There are many foods that are best stored at room temperature and not in plastic packaging. The refrigerator can dull the taste of many foods. For example, tomatoes should be stored at room temperature to preserve their natural flavor.

bananas can also be stored at room temperature. However, they must be kept away from other foods as they produce ethylene which causes other fruits to ripen and spoil more quickly.

Peaches, nectarines and apricots can be stored at room temperature until ripe, as well as melons and pears. Vegetables can also be stored at room temperature. For example, pumpkin, eggplant and cabbage.

Potato, sweet potato, onion and garlic can be stored in a box or cupboard to extend their shelf life. It’s best to keep potatoes away from onions, as they can absorb the onion smell. 

Some foods require refrigeration but do not need to be covered. Most foods store best with open air circulation and can be refrigerated in open containers. Some foods are best stored in cotton bags, such as berries, broccoli, and celery.

Parsnips, carrots and turnips best stored at low temperatures. 

Some fruits and vegetables last longer in an airtight container, usually with a piece of damp paper to prevent the products from drying out. This is the best way to store artichokes, fennel, green garlic, beans, cherries and basil.

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