On a Jersey path to zero waste – the thing about cling

Three glass Pyrex bowls with lids, stacked on top of each other

The thing about cling is it’s rubbish.  Literally.

This week I have been looking at food preparation and storage.  I have a love hate relationship with cling film, mainly because I always struggle to successfully tear a piece off the roll without having an unholy fight with it.  But it is, quite literally, rubbish.  In our house we use cling film for two reasons – to wrap food in the fridge or to cover food going in to the microwave.  Only one single use, and then its discardard into the non-recycleable waste.

Three glass Pyrex bowls with lids

Three sizes, stackable, with lids

So, I’ve been trying to rethink my clingfilm usage, and find alternatives.  I was spring cleaning my father-in-laws kitchen a few weeks ago and commandeered a set of three Pyrex dishes and lids that haven’t seen the light of day for  tens of years.  When did we move from use Pyrex and onto plastic?  I imagine with the advent of Tupperware.

A selection of fresh food and fish, with no additional plastic packaging

Zero waste shopping at the Jersey markets

I’m loving the Pyrex! I also have another two Pyrex dishes, with secure plastic lids, which I now take to the fish market or butchers with me.  The best part is I only use one dish – from the shop to the fridge to store it until needed, from fridge to the oven to cook, then back to the fridge, or even the freezer, (when cool enough) to store the left overs.  Zero waste and minimum washing up – a double wiin!

Although it is glass Pyrex is freezer, fridge, oven, microwave and dishwasher safe – providing you don’t go from one extreme level of heat to the other.  Okay, it doesn’t bounce like plastic when you drop it, but I’m not so clumsy that Pyrex doesn’t work for me. (It’s not for you Jacob!).  We quite often use bowls to store food in the fridge, or plate up a meal for my father in law – but the lids from the Pyrex bowls make excellent covers – both as a cover for the food in the fridge, or as a splash cover in the microwave.  Win, win.  You can buy Pyrex locally at Le Lievres, but better still raid your family’s cupboards or visit one of the many charity shops to stock up.

A plate with blocks of beeswax , in rectangle or hexagon shapes

Moulded beeswax from Don Anfray

I was also looking for a cling film alternative to wrap foods such as sandwiches for work, or cheese in the fridge, and decided to try making some beeswax wraps.  I sourced some beeswax (and a big jar of honey) from local bee-keeper  Don Anfray.

Melting beeswax in a bowl over a pan of hot water

The melting point of beeswax

Next, I created a Bain Marie, in the same way as you would for melting chocolate, and slowly melted the beeswax.  What a lovely scent! It’s takes a while to melt, but I was taking things extra slowly as it was my first trial.

A bowl of melted beeswax with fabric in, soaking up the liquid

Saturation point

My friend Cathy gifted me a some decorated cotton which we cut into different sizes with pinking shears to stop the edges from fraying.  When the beeswax was fully melted I dipped the fabric in the liquid until it was fully saturated.

Then it was time to hang it out to dry! Which is actually only a few minutes.  Make sure that you protect your surfaces from beeswax drips! I was scraping up beeswax droplets from the floor for a few days, despite trying to be careful.

A hunk of cheese kept fresh wrapped up in a folded beeswax wrap

Keeping cheese fresh in a beeswax wrap.

Once dry its ready to use! Foldable, you can wrap your food up in it and turn over the edges to keep them fresh.  The material is cleaned by using a cloth soaked in warm soapy water to wipe the beeswax wrap.  Don’t soak the wrap or the wax may start to soften.  I’m not sure they’ll be good for a picnic in the height of summer, but for taking food to and from work/school, or storing in the fridge they are excellent.

To be truthful, I found this method a little faffy (It’s a real adjective, honest – see here https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/faffy) and the cotton we used was a little heavy, so I tried a second method too.

An old cotton top, which has been cur=t down into sections of cloth

Repurposing old clothes

Take one worn out top and cut your cloth accordingly. (It helps immensely if you own a pair of sharp scissors, unlike me).

Baking tray, greaseproof paper, material & grated beeswax

Baking tray, greaseproof paper, material & grated beeswax

Place a piece of greaseproof paper onto a baking tray, and lie the material on top.  Follow up by grating some of the beeswax on to the top of the material.

A baking tray with material in, covered in a layer of beeswax which is solidifying

Beeswax solidifying in the baking tray

Pop in the oven on a low heat for a few minutes until the wax has melted.  Use an old toothbrush to spread the wax over the surface of the material then pop back into the oven for a few more minutes.  Keep going until the fabric is covered in the melted beeswax – grating more raw wax on if necessary, but work quickly as its starts to solidify straight away.

A selection of beeswax wraps and beeswax sandwich bags, in a bright floral pattern

Beeswax wraps, ready for action.

Take out the oven and dry as before, and hey presto! A home-made beeswax wrap. I much prefer this version, simpler to work with and the lighter fabric is easier to handle with food (although white fabric does turns yellow when the wax soaks in). I even made some sandwich bags out of the sleeves and some wool in melted beeswax too.

Who fish made from beeswax, next to a silicon ice cube tray in the shape of fish

Something fishy going on

Any excess beeswax can be poured into an old ice cube tray (silicone works best). Just pop them out when solidified, ready to use for the next project.

I have seen beeswax sandwich bags in the organic shop, although single use, but if you don’t fancy making your own you can buy them ready-made from outlets such as Amazon*, Folksy or Etsy.  (*please note these are affiliate links – try and source locally or make some yourself – but if you do purchase through these links the blog is paid a small commission which supports its running costs.)

I now have pyrex dishes to cover food in the microwave and store in the fridge, and beeswax wraps for cheese and sandwiches.  Which makes my clingfilm obselete!  Another zero-waste win, Yay!

Four photographs of a selection of semi-defrosted foods

Defrosted fodder.

Sadly, our household rubbish was a whopping 3.8 kg this week (year to date 10.4kg) but its not my fault! One of our freezers decided to trip and turned itself off.  We lived off home-made soup for lunch all week; I made a batch of tomato soup from the defrosted chopped tomatoes, tomato and garlic purée and cherry tomatoes we grew last year; I made sage and onion stuffing with the defrosted bread to go with Sunday roast;  and a rhubarb crumble too with the defrosted rhubarb from the field.  I gifted foraged rose hips and cherries to one friend and more rhubarb to another – but still there was some waste we just couldn’t use up.  That’s life, we tried, so I’m not getting hung up on it.

How are you progressing down your Jersey path to zero-waste, or increased recycling?  come and join in the discussions on the Zero Waste Jersey facebook page.

Have a great (environmentally conscious) week!

 

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2 thoughts on “On a Jersey path to zero waste – the thing about cling

  1. Alison

    Love the idea of the beeswax sandwich wraps but in the real world I’m re-using over and over again my plastic boxes – which as long as I do use them, I feel relatively guilt free. BUT saying that, I’m wondering whether you can use homemade beeswax bags in the freezer to store fruit & veg. Any ideas/thoughts? The plastic bags I currently use are most definitely NOT guilt free.

    Reply
    • Sheena Post author

      I’m the same Alyson, I’m reusing my plastic boxes too. I use the plastic boxes in the freezer too, or glass pyrex with the plastic lids – they work well too. I’ve moved away from using plastic bags in the freezer – I try and open freeze fruit and veg – by laying them in a single layer on a baking tray for an hour in the freezer first, then put them into one big container. This way you just have one container, but are still able to just take out only what you want. I don’t think I’d use beeswax wraps in the freezer as the cold temperatures would make them brittle I think.

      Reply

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