If your household runs like so many others, you’ll probably have a roll of aluminium foil in your kitchen. It’s a handy, everyday item, used for a multitude of jobs from food prep to food storage.
Aluminium foil (or aluminum foil as some may say) certainly make things convenient, but is it the best option? Is it time to rethink how we wrap sandwiches and cover food to cut down on unnecessary waste?
Could ditching the foil move us one step closer to the zero waste kitchen we dream of?
The good news is, yes! There are some brilliant aluminium foil alternatives, here’s our round up of the best.
A Brief History of Aluminium Foil
Aluminium foil first made an appearance to replace tin foil. (That’s probably why we still call it tin foil in the UK. But it’s very much aluminium, not tin.)
The first patent for the manufacturing process for aluminium foil was in 1910. It wasn’t long before it started appearing in food packaging such as chocolate bars and stock cubes.
By the 1920s, aluminium foil was a home staple in Europe and the United States. With its ability to block out light and prevent moisture build up, it became a natural choice for food use.
It very quickly created a convenience that households naturally embraced.
Is Aluminium Foil Eco Friendly?
As is often the case with new products, some of the drawbacks to aluminium foil weren’t clear during its early use.
Aluminium is mined, then processed into foil in a plant and is considered a disposable product. The environmental impact of these processes is high enough.
Add in the ramifications of so readily using a single use product and we have a problem.
Whilst aluminium foil does add convenience, it’s not the most eco friendly option.
The drawbacks to aluminium foil don’t end there. Aluminium can leach into our food when we use foil for cooking or storing. The effects of this are not yet fully understood.
But using aluminium foil could mean we’re exposed to levels higher than those recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
If you can’t forgo the foil altogether, there are some things you can do to make things more eco friendly.
Try to use your aluminium foil more than once by rinsing after use and allowing it to dry, ready for next time.
When reusing is no longer an option, don’t forget that aluminium foil can be recycled. Save it up until you have a fist sized ball of scrunched up foil and put in your recycling with your tins and cans.
Eco Friendly Aluminium Foil Alternatives
Ready to try some aluminium foil alternatives? Here’s some great options to inspire you.
Glass Storage Containers
Convenience is everything. That’s why aluminium foil is so popular. Much like when we all ditched glass milk bottles for plastic cartons, when foil came along, the same thing happened.
Many households happily swapped their traditional glassware for disposable foil. That tradition has stayed with us and we consider glass too cumbersome for practical use.
But, as with plastic, we now know the environmental impact of such a disposable culture. And as we learn more about the health risks of disposable wraps (both cling film and foil) glass is making a comeback.
Heavy duty glass products for food storage are everywhere. They’re non-porous so they have no impact on the taste or quality of our food. Plus, they’re thick enough to resist breaking during normal daily use.
They come in a variety of shapes and sizes to suit all storage needs. Many can be used in microwaves and ovens and are dishwasher proof.
Silicone also has a role in storing leftover food. Silicone lids come in many sizes and can be stretched over containers to keep your food fresh.
Stain resistant and non-porous, these lids can be used in the freezer and the microwave. They’re also easy and quick to clean.
When purchasing silicone products, make sure they’re designed for food use and made from food grade silicone.
Beeswax wraps are a great choice for lunchboxes and short term food storage. Plus they’re brilliant for replacing single use plastic wraps and aluminium foil.
These wraps are made from cotton fabric coated in beeswax. They’re designed to be used many times.
All you need to do is wash them after use, let them air dry, and then they’re ready to be used again and again.
A natural alternative for keeping food fresh, use them to wrap sandwiches and cover leftover food.
There are no harmful byproducts that can make their way into your food. Instead, they’re environmentally friendly while helping you reduce food waste.
Plant based, vegan friendly wax wraps are also available.
A great option for leftovers, fabric covers are designed to fit snugly over serving bowls. Perfect for pre-prepared food they’re suitable for food being stored in the fridge.
You’ll find these covers made from different types of fabric, so make sure you follow individual care instructions.
Some covers have coatings that aren’t suitable for use in a dryer. But these often need little more than a rinse before they’re ready for use again.
Though not a high tech aluminium foil alternative, parchment paper is a classic eco friendly option.
It’s a good choice for short term food storage such as wrapped sandwiches in a lunch box. It’s also suitable for use in the oven during food prep.
Opt to use a biodegradable parchment paper in line with your eco values since this is a single use option.
Silicone Baking Sheets
Do you line your baking trays with aluminium foil to cut down on the washing up? You’re not alone!
You can get the same results by opting to use silicone baking sheets. These mats are thin, take up minimal storage space, and are easy to care for.
The upfront investment will save you from the ongoing costs of buying foil and will help you cut down on waste.
If you’re worried about using silicone in the kitchen, fear no more. When it comes to silicone vs plastic, silicone is a safe choice for food prep.
Switching to an Aluminium Foil Alternative: Easier Than You Thought?
In today’s busy world it’s important to strike the right balance. We all need to keep things simple whilst still doing what we can to reduce our environmental impact.
The good news is, making eco choices doesn’t have to mean sacrificing convenience.
Choose the right aluminium foil alternative and you’ll save money, keep your family healthy and help you all eat and live more sustainably.