Can You Reuse Plastic Wrap?
It's important to repurpose, reuse, and recycle. But can you reuse plastic wrap? We found out.
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You’ll find plastic wrap in practically every kitchen. In fact, it’s been a staple since Saran Wrap was rolled out in 1949. It’s essential for refrigerated leftovers, preventing freezer burn and making homemade pudding. So the question is: Is plastic wrap for one-time use only—or can you reuse plastic wrap?
Ways to reuse plastic wrap
Can you reuse plastic wrap? Yes. Unless the plastic wrap is soiled, it’s fine to reuse. If you don’t want to reuse it on leftovers, here are a few other uses for plastic wrap you might not have thought of:
- Slow down the ripening process. If your bananas are getting mushy too quickly, try wrapping the stems in plastic wrap; it slows down the process and keeps them fresher, longer.
- Stop freezer burn. Cover ice cream with a piece of plastic wrap, then top with the lid; the layer of plastic will prevent ice from crystallizing on the surface.
- Store a wet paintbrush. Not done painting, but need a break? Wrap your wet paintbrush with plastic wrap and it’ll prevent the paint from drying out until you’re ready to paint again, and save you the hassle of rinsing out your brush.
- Prevent leaks while traveling. Before packing your shampoo or other liquid, take the lid off, cover the opening with plastic wrap, and then screw on the lid. The layer of plastic creates another barrier against leaks.
If you can get a few uses out of one piece of plastic wrap, you might feel a little better about the environmental impact. Find more ways to reuse plastic wrap.
How long does plastic wrap last?
Plastic wrap lasts a long time. We’re talking a really long time—as in, your grandkids could probably use the same roll of plastic wrap that’s in your kitchen now. Out of all the brands we checked, none of them had an expiration date. However, some people reported that an old roll of plastic wrap was almost too sticky to unravel. This kind of deterioration is usually caused by high temperatures, like if your plastic wrap has been stored in a hot garage or attic for several years. Otherwise, that forgotten roll of plastic wrap in the back of your kitchen drawer will probably work. Here’s the reason why you shouldn’t keep plastic wrap in a drawer.
Editor’s Note: Plastic wrap made prior to 2004 might contain polyvinylidene chloride (PVDC), a compound that brands like Saran Wrap have stopped using due to its possible health risks.
Alternatives to plastic wrap
Because plastic wrap takes so long to break down, it’s not great for the environment. It’s difficult to recycle without special machinery, so most recycling plants won’t accept it. There are special wrap-recycling programs like W.R.A.P., but such programs are not available everywhere. Unfortunately, a lot of plastic wrap ends up in landfills, incinerators, and the ocean. The thin, flimsy plastic tends to pick up bacteria and become contaminated pieces of microplastic; which marine life mistakes for food. Environmentalists recommend ditching plastic wrap altogether, and finding an alternative way to store your leftovers. Here are a few ideas:
- Purchase glass storage containers or repurpose mason jars.
- Look for sustainable wraps like Bee’s Wrap, made from beeswax, organic cotton, jojoba oil, and tree resin.
- Pick up a set of silicone bowl covers to cover a dish you’re saving for later or taking to a potluck.
Next, here’s how this woman became plastic-free—and what she uses instead.