With September just around the corner, it's time to start thinking about packing school lunches again.
And if you're attempting to keep your kitchen — and kids' lunches — plastic-wrap-free, Calgary native Toni Desrosiers has a solution for you: reusable, eco-friendly food wraps.
Desrosiers, 35, founded her company, Abeego, with her husband, Colin, in 2008.
"I've always been innovative in my own life by solving particular things that I need personally, so that’s really how Abeego began," she tells The Globe and Mail.
"I was unhappy with plastic food wrap and packaging as it was available on the market. We’ve used natural materials to store food for thousands of years so I wanted to uncover techniques from the past to store food and invent something that was going to suit a modern-day need."
Desrosiers used her background in holistic nutrition to her advantage and started researching the history of food preservation. Her miracle solution to replace plastic-wrap: beeswax.
According to Abeego's official site:
"Abeego products are made from hemp and certified organic cotton that's been infused with pure beeswax, certified organize jojoba oil, and tree resin. These high-quality materials have natural anti-fungal, antiseptic and anti-bacterial properties that work to create a protective material that allows food to breathe.
Abeego wraps can package up those sandwiches — the coating is fluid resistant, so don't worry about sauces and condiments leaking — and store cheese, vegetables and cooked meats in the fridge. The wraps are also great for covering rising bread dough and can even "help out around the freezer for the short-term jobs."
The wraps can easily be washed in cold water with an eco-friendly dish soap.
Desrosiers insists the Abeego Wraps are worth the $15-each investment:
"[Because] it’s reusable you’re going to have it for well over a year and it’s priced quite equally to a year’s supply of plastic food wrap," she says.
"The bigger difference is that because it’s natural and the natural properties that exist – for example, beeswax is antibacterial and tree resin anti-microbial and the fabric itself is breathable – food stays fresher in Abeego in many cases than it does in plastic food wrap."
Two other sizes are also available: the Abeego Snack and the Abeego Flats.
Desrosiers' wraps aren't the only non-plastic lunch solutions on the market.
Reusable sandwich wraps and bags from snackTAXI, LunchSkins and Eco Ditty all come in bright colours and patterns and in food-safe materials. Some can even been cleaned in the dishwasher, making cleanup a snap.
Read Mighty Nest's breakdown of the different reusable sandwich bags to discover which one is the best fit for your family.
Australian company 4MyEarth® offers food wraps, bread bags, food covers and produce bags that are all PVC-, phthalate- and BPA-free.
Linen bento bags from Ambatalia are perfect for picking up veggies or grains at the market, storing bread, or packing lunches.
Some companies want you to swap out plastic lunch containers for stainless steel.
PlanetBox offers a stainless-steel, dishwasher-safe "smart lunchbox" that's advertised as "part bento box, part TV dinner tray."
LunchBots also boast stainless-steel, leak-proof lunch containers.
Check out The Kitchn's great list of plastic-free lunch boxes here.
When it comes to storing food at home without plastic, here are a few options to consider:
Store pantry ingredients in canning jars.
Use silicone stretch-top covers or suction lids over leftovers as reusable alternatives to plastic wrap.
Store food in glass containers with airtight stainless-steel lids, like these ones from Life Without Plastic.
Perhaps most importantly: know what your fruits and vegetables need. Print this PDF for easy access to tips on how to best store your produce without resorting to plastic: keep figs on a plate, uncovered, for up to a week, and store avocados in a paper bag on the counter.
Are you cutting back on the plastic in your kitchen? Share your tips below.
And for more great kitchen hacks, check out the videos below. @