Have you ever been concocting a new, soon to make you famous, craft cocktail when suddenly all that imagined deliciousness turns a muddy color with a definitely sus sludge at the bottom? Well in the 1930’s some chemist was doing his version of screw around and find out, when a slick, sticky residue at the bottom of his beaker yielded a new type of plastic. Ralph Wiley accidentally discovered polyvinylidene chloride (PVDC,) a transparent plastic so water resistant he had trouble getting the stuff out of said beaker, and so dense molecularly speaking, that oxygen couldn’t get through it either. Plastic wrap was born.
Despite the very real struggle of getting it to tear off the roll and not instantly stick to itself, plastic wrap is ridiculously useful. It’s cheap, lightweight, and protects whatever it’s around from both oxygen and water, solving a myriad of food packaging problems for our industrialized societies. Today, there are more than a hundred brands on the market and over nine million tons of the stuff was manufactured in 2019. But the worst part - it’s all single use. That translates to all of it ending up in a landfill, or worse, incinerators where it releases toxic dioxin when burned. In the landfill it takes forever to break down but as it does, it releases all its noxiousness into groundwater. Swell.
If it ends up in the ocean, plastic films act like a demented magnet for bacterial and metal pollution effectively turning it into a drifting blob of delicious-looking toxins. Sea creatures mistake plastic wrap for jellyfish and it kills them quite efficiently. I think you’re getting my point. If you want to do one thing for our Mother Earth, ditching plastic wrap is the one to go with.
Plastic wrap is a habit and habits take a little effort to break. My husband can’t find a lid for a bowl and he’s digging to find the (now) non-existent plastic wrap. It takes awhile to train a brain that you have other options. My kitchen is now plastic wrap free but loaded with silicone food and bowl covers that work just as well on that bowl/can/jar/watermelon as plastic wrap. I put them where the wrap used to be to help his brain make the connection. In the same drawer to the left of the recyclable aluminum foil are the wax food wraps. He is completely intimidated by those, but he’ll get it eventually because I use them..lead by example!
The food wraps are an ingenious take away from mummies believe it or not!!!? Want to keep your corpse fresh, you wrap it with linen soaked in smelly stuff and beeswax. Seriously, beeswax wraps have been around for QUITE awhile and can do anything plastic wrap can do. But not to worry, Me Mother Earth is a fully vegan company, so no animals are harmed...even the little guys. Instead, ME offers plant based wax that works in the same way, making fabric water and oxygen resistant. You just warm that wrap up by smooshing it in your hands for a minute or two, and then gift wrap your bread/avocado/bowl and smooth the warmed wrap tightly - good to go. They wash with warm, soapy water and drip dry on one of these nifty bamboo racks. You can even re-wax them when they become hard to mold (put a pin in that for another blog) and compost them at their end of life.
One more thing - NEVER put plastic wrap in your recycling. Never with the capital N. And I tossed the cocktail. We don’t need any more surprises.