Here at the homestead we’re always wondering how to cut down on waste. We have a compost pile, and our egg-laying chickens eat a lot of leftovers. But lately my mind has been on plastic waste. Especially with news articles coming out about plastic in the human digestive system, beads of plastic in the ocean food chain, giant rafts of plastic floating on the seas. Plastic may not degrade for hundreds of years. Most plastic isn’t biodegradable, just breaking down into smaller and smaller pieces and potentially mucking up the food-chain from small animals all the way up to humans. I wondered, was there anything at all I could do to reduce its environmental impact?
My imagination served up an answer: a memory of the “old days,” ordering a lunchtime turkey sandwich at the deli near my office in mid-town Manhattan. How those bountiful sandwiches would be expertly and rapidly packaged in folded, delightfully crisp wax paper! So I “remembered” the solution, and I recommend it to you: biodegradable, eco-friendly wax paper and butcher paper.
And maybe in the grand scheme of things aesthetics isn’t that important, but still, I find the texture of wax paper more pleasing than glossy, floppy zip lock bags.
Now, instead of buying various locking sandwich bags, when I make our nine-year old’s lunch in the morning, I pack his sandwich in wax paper. When I buy ground beef or chicken thighs, I repackage smaller meal-portions in butcher paper instead of plastic freezer bags.
Turns out it’s economical as well as practical, an important consideration for those of us on a budget. Environmental solutions can be costly, but store-brand wax paper can be purchased for as little as two cents per square foot, comparable in price to bargain-brand sandwich bags. Butcher paper is also comparably priced to freezer bags. Some freezer tape, which is masking tape for low temperatures, makes packages easy to seal and to label. Or you can skip the tape altogether and just fold the seams under.
No more seals that break or fall open. And especially for childen’s little hands and senior’s fingers that might have gotten arthritic, no more struggling to grip tiny margins or pull open tight seals.
Here’s how to fold like a pro, according to Tipnut.com (and the 1961 instructions “How To Prepare Foods For Freezing“; from good old Sears, Roebuck & Co.).
Tips: Store wrapped items seam side down to protect seal. You can double wrap meat if the freezer paper you’re using isn’t the best quality.
The coated paper has additional benefits. No more seals that break or fall open. And especially for childen’s little hands and senior’s fingers that might have gotten arthritic, no more struggling to grip tiny margins or pull open tight seals. And maybe in the grand scheme of things aesthetics isn’t that important, but still, I find the texture of wax paper more pleasing than glossy, floppy zip lock bags.
Finally, for the homesteader, there’s an added bonus: wax paper burns. Next time you need help starting a fire because the tinder in your fire pit or burn box is a little damp, light some wadded-up non-toxic, biodegradable, eco-friendly wax paper.