Thursday, June 2, 2011

Going Green week six- eliminating or reducing aluminum foil and saran wrap

Welcome back! And sorry for last week’s skip…a lot of unexpected things happened last week, and the blog didn’t remain a high priority.

My latest game has been greatly reducing our saran wrap/aluminum foil usage. I’ve started making, first myself, then for my etsy shop, reusable bowl and pan covers. I’m totally in love with mine, and so thrilled to be getting rid of saran wrap/aluminum foil!

Reusable covers are generally made with a cotton exterior, and a food safe nylon on the inside. Some are also just made with two layers of cotton, but these can only be used for dry food storage, and not for very long, as they’ll dry out faster. Some also use PUL (a typical diaper-making fabric), but so far as we know, PUL is not food safe and therefore not recommended. Most are made with narrow, hidden elastic about an inch away from the edge, but I found that fold over elastic worked far better- it holds a much tighter seal than regular ¼” elastic. With the elastic edge and the nylon lining, these seal/prevent from drying out just as well as, if not better than, saran wrap and aluminum foil.

As an economical non-waster, it’s always really bothered me to buy aluminum foil and saran wrap. Essentially, you’re just buying something that you know you’ll be throwing out shortly. As someone growing more concerned about the environment, it bothers me even more.

But- even if you could care less about the environment, it doesn’t bother you to throw things out all the time, you have all the money in the world, and your primary concern is personal convenience, these are still awesome. Simply from a convenience standpoint, I love my new covers! I’m not sure about all the rest of you, but I always have issues with saran wrap. It never sticks (except to itself and me), it slides all over, and if you absolutely have to have something completely covered, you use way more saran wrap than you should need. Aluminum foil isn’t much better- acidic foods (and even non/low acid ones, I’m finding) eat away at the aluminum. That means holes in your cover, and having to go through the tedious process of picking off all the flecks of aluminum from the top of your food so you don’t eat them. It rips easily, especially in the freezer.

Enter reusable covers- the slip on quickly, and fit snugly over the bowl or pan. To care for them, all you need to do is wipe off, or, if they get pretty dirty, wash in the sink with your dishes or in your washer machine. I recommend air drying to get the longest life span from your covers. Plus, they make a pretty addition to any kitchen, potluck, gathering, etc. Needless to say, I have a new love. These are one of the most convenient “green” switches we’ve made.

If you sew, they’re really easy to make, and fairly inexpensive. Basically, you just cut a circle a few inches bigger all the way around (so, if you’re cutting 3” bigger, it’s really 6” bigger) than the largest bowl you want them to fit. The larger size bowl covers fit a wider range of bowls than the smaller ones because with more elastic, they have more stretch/versatility. All covers will fit at least a couple inch range, though. Put wrong of your cotton fabric against the shiny/sticky side of your nylon, and place a few pins in. Then apply FOE just like you would for diapers, and just like it sounds- fold it around the edge of the fabric, and stitch on a wide zig-zag, stretching the elastic as much as you can as you go. When you reach the end, cut the elastic and tuck the edge under the backside; zigzag over. Dimensions of my large pan covers, which fit 13x9/15x11 are 19”x15”. My largest bowl cover is about 18” diameter, my large is 2 inches smaller, and the other two go down by one inch. I know that makes for a lousy “tutorial” (if I can even call it that!), so if you want to make them and have questions, let me know.


  1. Nice! I'll have to try this sometime. Honestly, I have never liked Saran and foil. Especially Saran. Evil stuff. . . it's so annoyingly easy to mess it up :-P. And I also hate buying things that are one-use :-P.

  2. Where did you get your food-safe nylon, Brianna? Would a fabric store have it, or did you get it online? And was it labeled "food-safe"?

  3. I know...I've always hated it too. Too messy and doesn't work well! ;-)

    I got it from Seattle Fabrics, which is an online store...I can look up their website. But from what I read, nylon in general is FDA approved food safe. So no, it wasn't labeled food safe per se... There was a great site/blog article I found about fabrics for ziploc replacement bags talking about the fabrics, which was one of the most concise things I found- I'll have to try and re-find it this week and give it to you, it was really helpful. They (or someone else, I don't remember for certain) mentioned that you could get it at Joanns or whatever. I actually got some clearanced from the Seattle Fabrics...although their shipping is really expensive, so that does jump it up. I think it might've been $4 a yard, but came out to $6 with shipping...and that was buying 10 yards. So I want to check Joanns, especially since their non-clearanced was quite a bit more. I believe both rip-stop and a poly-something coated nylon are supposed to be food safe....not sure what the difference is between them; mine's the poly-something coated. ;-)