A Kitchen Without Plastic Wrap (and Working on Getting Rid of Ziplock Bags, Too)

There are two main reasons to get rid of plastic wrap and plastic bags in my kitchen:

1. Single-use plastic items help create a culture of "disposable" convenience. I have been a member of the cult of consumerism, and I'm fighting that impulse to buy my way out of every problem. Every day another item makes its way onto my wish list. I have to keep pushing myself: Wasn't there once another way?
2. Plastic #4 or low density polyethylene (LDPE) cannot be recycled and thus contributes to landfill and a Texas-sized island of garbage in the Pacific Ocean. Do I actually want to go down knowing I added to this giant pile of rubbish that can be seen from space?

In other words, ask yourself: How did your great grandma make pie without plastic wrap to cover her dough while it rested? What did your great grandma store her leftover soup in?

What Recipes Tell You

In online recipes, cookbooks, magazines, and even emails from friends, instructions to "wrap [blank] in plastic wrap" are ubiquitous. I also find ziplock bags useful for many purposes.

What are we wrapping or covering in plastic?

  • pie dough resting in fridge or freezer (also used to make it not stick to counter while rolling out)
  • bread dough rising in a bowl
  • shaped bread, bagels, and rolls proofing on a cookie sheet
  • custard and pudding cooling in the fridge
  • leftovers in bowls, casserole dishes, pans
What are we using ziplock bags for?
  • flouring eggplant and fish for frying (seal a half cup of flour and the item you're flouring in the bag, then shake!)
  • piping pastry (cut a hole in one corner of the bag, fill with frosting, whipped cream, or ladyfinger batter, and pipe!)
  • freezing leftovers
  • snacks
  • open containers (baking soda, vital wheat gluten, corn starch, tomato paste, dry beans, sesame seeds)
  • kids' stuff (crayons, legos)

What I've Been Using Instead of Plastic

There are lots of alternatives to plastic wrap, and I've found it pretty easy to not buy any in the past year. I barely miss it. Ziplock bags have been harder to get rid of.

For pie dough, I use and reuse glass (and plastic) containers with lids. I use a floured counter to roll out the dough, but waxed paper also works on humid days.
pie dough

For rising bread dough, I use and reuse large plastic containers with lids or bowls with damp towels on top.

For overnight rises of bagels, rolls, or flatbread on cookie pans after shaping, I use beeswax-coated cloth wrap (Abeego) or use another cookie pan on top. For overnight rises of boule or batard shaped bread, I use a rising basket lined with a cloth napkin coated in flour, which I drape on top of the dough before popping the basket in the fridge. For overnight rises of sticky shaped dough like challah, I use a large round mixing bowl over the shaped dough on the cookie sheet (because even a wet cloth would stick to the dough and de-gas it when I pull it off in the morning); I have been wondering if a very-well-floured and very light cloth towel would work.

For custard and pudding cooling in the fridge, I make space for all the bowls, goblets, or ramekins to be close to each other and drape a cloth napkin over the tops.

For leftovers stored in the fridge or freezer, I use and reuse glass Ball jars, Pyrex containers with lids, plastic containers, and ziplock bags. I'm trying to get away from the plastic, so I've bought a few zippered cloth bags to store pancakes, waffles, bread crumbs, and other dry items.

For flouring eggplant, I've gone back to the dip-in-a-bowl-of-flour method for now, though it's less convenient than the shake-in-a-bag method, and I'm thinking about using a large cloth bag (or tablecloth?) for this task.

For piping, I've bought a reusable piping bag (duh).

For snacks, I've been sending the kids to school with cloth zippered bags and reusable containers (Ball quilted jelly jars, 4 oz size, for applesauce and yogurt).

For open containers, I've been dumping the stuff in glass jars and labeling them.

Kids' stuff is still going in ziplock bags. I could probably get them to use storage containers.

What's Next?

Giving up reusable plastic containers. It's all about the canning jars!


  1. This is a great article! I can totally relate. I've just started using canning jars, too, and am trying to limit my use of ziploc bags. I've tried Lunchskins snack bags, but they make crackers and pretzels stale in hours. Ziploc bags work too well!

    1. I bought a couple of Lunchskins -- they are so expensive! I swallow hard before clicking the "buy" button. I'm going to try to make my own beeswax-coated cloth wrappers. I found these instructions: http://www.theartofdoingstuff.com/beeswax-fabric-food-wrap/?utm_campaign=shareaholic&utm_medium=email_this&utm_source=email


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