When cling film was first introduced to the market in the 1950s, it was revolutionary. Gone were the days of having to find a lid to cover every god forsaken morsel of leftovers - there was a new kid in town and you could cover your food with it to keep it fresher for longer without having to fasten it on.
Of course, nowadays, the idea of inventing another piece of single-use plastic for anything is enough to make most people’s blood curdle in the same way as that 3-day-old custard that’s lurking at the back of the fridge. That’s because we know how bad the stuff is for the environment.
The most popular material used in cling film is polyvinyl chloride (otherwise known as PVC), which is nigh-on indestructible and is turning our oceans and waterways into one big polluted mess. In fact, a staggering 32 per cent of single-use plastics make their way into our oceans each year. This is the equivalent of pouring an entire rubbish van’s worth of plastic into the ocean every minute.
Whilst cling film may have had its uses 70 years ago (back when the planet was still relatively plastic free) there’s little excuse to whip the stuff out nowadays.
Thankfully, there are plenty of alternatives that are equally effective at keeping food fresh and that you can get multiple uses out of - easy on the environment and on the wallet. It’s a win-win for everyone.
These are some of the best alternatives to cling film you can find on the market now.
Best alternatives to cling film
Stasher Silicone Storage Pouch
If you or a family member eat a packed lunch every day, you’ll find this silicone storage bag particularly useful for sandwiches.
It’s a handy rectangular shape and is both airtight and leakproof, so even if you decide to use it for storing fruit slices or something less ‘neat’ than a BLT, it’ll keep it fresh and tidy.
It goes without saying that it’s reusable and it’s also recyclable too. Rather than a zip lock, it features a fastening that’s easy to press together, so it’s easy for little hands to prise open too.
You can use it in the microwave or through it in a pan of boiling water (it’s a great way to steam salmon), making it easily one of the most versatile items on the list.
£12.99 | Lakeland | Buy it now
Reusable Silicon Cling Film Wrap
This is a little more flexible than the round silicone lids, meaning it’s a more useful option if you need to cover rectangular dishes.
The silicone doesn’t have tabs, either, so you can stretch it over containers and smooth the edges down to ensure no air can get in. It comes with three different size options, is microwave, dishwasher and freezer safe.
£8.86 | Amazon | Buy it now
Modfamily Silicone Stretch Lids
BPA free and coming in various shapes and sizes, these silicone lids are an excellent alternative to cling film, allowing you to tightly cover food and liquids and keep them fresher for longer.
This is the product to buy when you have a half empty tin or a bowl of leftovers - each one is air tight and comes with niftily handles that make it easy to stretch them over various receptacles. This pack includes seven different sized lids and even comes with an extra large one for bigger bowls and pots.
They’re easy to clean and tend not to harbour colours and odours from foods. Just make sure that they’re completely dry when you want to use them, otherwise they can be difficult to attach.
£12.99 | Amazon | Buy it now
Bee Green Wraps
A great option to avoid using cling film, bee green wrap are made from 100 per cent natural products: just beeswax, organic jojoba oil, tree resin and cotton.
The fact that they come in various designs makes them fun to use, too. Try out the family starter pack if you’re not sure what sizes you’ll need.
Carrinet Veggio Reusable Fruit and Veg Bags
So you might be thinking, “this is all very well and good but what about all the cling film that’s used to wrap fruit and veg in the supermarket?” That’s where the Carrient bags come in. Made from a washable mesh, these drawstring bags are perfect for picking your own loose fresh produce and avoiding that which is plastic-wrapped.
As they’re made from a breathable fabric, they’ll keep it all fresh. The smallest one is ideal for items such as garlic whilst the bigger ones can hold several larger items such as broccoli or potatoes.
Covermate Elasticated Food Covers
These are similar to cling film but can be used repeatedly without getting worn out. They look a lot like shower caps - the elasticated edges make them easy to stretch over various containers (they also come in packs of three with small, medium and large sizes included).
They can be used to cover foods in the fridge and can even withstand the microwave or act as a proving cover for dough. Dishwasher safe and multipurpose, they’re highly convenient and wonderfully practical.
If You Care Paper Snack and Sandwich Bags
Though not entirely zero waste, these bags make a great alternative to single use plastic ones or cling film.
They’re made from Scandinavian spruce trees that are taken from a FSC Certified forest and are chlorine, petroleum and bleach free.
They still have a waxy finish, making them well-equipped for keeping food fresh for several hours, but they use a natural alternative instead. These are compostable (so you can throw them on your own compost pile) and are even safe to put in the microwave.
Planet Wise Sandwich Zip Bag
Super cute and easy to use, these little zip bags can be used for storying a multitude of things. Made using food-safe materials, they feature a waterproof lining and cotton outdoor.
Though technically for kids, there are enough sophisticated designs for adults to use them as well. Once you feel they’ve had their food-storing days, you can even find a new use for them - as a pencil case, wash or makeup bag.
U.Konserve 2 Piece Food Cozy
This food-wrap is similar to cling film in the sense that it clings and can be wrapped around or over various perishables or containers but it’s a more eco-friendly option made from a low-density polyethylene that is recyclable.
It’s free from PVA and BPA and is both drip and leak-proof. Though not suitable for the microwave or dishwasher, it’s easy to clean (just wash it up in a bowl and leave it to drip-dry) and can be used multiple times.
Each of these options is useful and a much better alternative to cling film. Of them all, the U.Konserve 2 Piece Food Cozy, Reusable Silicone Wrap and Stasher Storage Pouches will cover all your bases, so to speak.