I use aluminum foil for many different reasons; from cooking to storing, I can go through rolls of aluminum foil a month. Most of the time, this is a one-time application before the foil sees the inside of the garbage can. But how eco-friendly is aluminum foil really and what is a great eco-friendly alternative to aluminum foil?
There are some great alternatives to aluminum foil that are more eco-friendly and healthier. You can find alternatives to aluminum foil for storing, baking, cooking, grilling, and packing, all of which will be healthier for you and more environmentally friendly.
I have spent some time researching aluminum foil alternatives, especially ways to replace the aluminum foil in my kitchen with products I can reuse and that are healthier to bake with.
Read on to see how I’ve changed my use of tin foil with better and, in the long run, more cost-effective aluminum foil alternatives.
What Is The Purpose Of Aluminum?
Aluminum foil or as it is sometimes commonly known tin foil is used in a variety of ways, most notably as lightweight metal baking sheets used in cooking. It has a high strength-to-weight ratio and is thin and malleable, which makes it useful for wrapping food to prevent it from coming into contact with other food or bacteria. It also reflects heat well, so it’s often used to wrap food that needs to be kept cold or heated.
What Can You Use Instead Of Aluminum Foil?
There are several aluminum foil alternatives that could be healthier for you, cost-effective in the long run, and an eco-friendly alternative.
Alternatives To Aluminum Foil For Grilling
There is nothing tastier than some good old-fashioned food cooked on the grill, some more delicate foods such as fish and veggies are often grilled on tin foil over some hot coals, but using aluminum foil alternatives such as:
- Grilling baskets
- Cast iron cookware
- BBQ grill mesh
- Cedar wraps or grilling papers
Are a great aluminum foil alternative when you next decide to have a grilling session.
Alternatives For Aluminum Foil For Baking
I don’t know about you, but I often use aluminum foil on my baking trays to protect the nonstick trays from scratching and accidental sticky messes. I might be able to use the aluminum foil for a few batches of cookies, but it’s a one-time deal when it comes to baking a casserole dish because of spillages.
But some more eco-friendly alternatives that work brilliantly for baking anything from cookies to making a lasagna dish are:
- Unbleached Parchment paper/baking sheet
- Terracotta cookware
- Cookie sheets/baking sheets
- Silicone baking sheets
- Silicone baking bowls
- Ceramic food containers
Since switching I’ve found silicone sheets to be really useful. Not only are they very non-stick but with silicone sheets, you don’t need to use oil. An extra saving and also a health boost for those counting the calories!
Alternatives For Aluminum Foil For Food Storage
Storing leftovers is another area where I use a lot of aluminum foil, I wrap sandwiches for lunch for the family or cover the leftovers from last night’s dinner. Once again, this is a single-time application, and once the tin foil has done its job, it is in the garbage can. Some alternatives for food storage are listed below.
- Silicone food covers
- Glass containers
- Plastic Tupperware
- Fabric food covers/reusable cloths
- Stainless steel food storage containers
- Muslin cloth
- Beeswax wrap
Green alternatives, like glass containers for storing leftovers, beeswax wraps for sandwiches, or covering food like salads with silicone food covers are better for the environment and your pocket. Since looking for alternatives I’ve found some great and more attractive options for covering food like the following fabric food covers.
Can I Use A Lid Instead Of Aluminum Foil?
Generally, pots, pans, and glass containers come with their own lids that fit tightly and keep moisture in while cooking, but if you find that one of your pans doesn’t have a metal lid or you normally cover food on a baking tray with foil to prevent it from drying out, you may be happy to know that there are other eco-friendly alternatives.
Using reusable items is always a better option than a single application product such as aluminum foil. You can easily buy a silicone lid to fit your existing food storage containers if you don’t already have one; they tend to fit multiple-sized pots and pans when cooking.
If you need a lid for the oven, make sure that the lid and handle are oven safe, these can easily be used as substitutes for aluminum foil (tin foil) in the oven and can be efficiently washed off and then reused again, so, in the long run, you will definitely save money.
Can I Use Baking Paper Instead Of Aluminum Foil (Tin Foil)?
Baking sheet or otherwise known as parchment paper can be used to replace aluminum foil in baking. For a more eco-friendly option, use unbleached parchment paper, as this does not use chemicals to whiten the natural color of the parchment paper.
Do not confuse baking or parchment paper with beeswax wrap. Parchment papers can be used in the oven and provide a nonstick and grease-proof surface for your cooked goods. That’s because the paper is coated with silicone, making it heat resistant and an ideal replacement for aluminum foil (tin foil).
Beeswax food wraps should not be used in hot environments as the paper is coated in wax and will melt when heated, causing the paper to stick to surfaces and food.
Can I Replace Aluminum Foil With Beeswax Wraps Instead?
As previously mentioned, beeswax wraps are more suitable for use in room-temperature environments, so that the wraps do not melt and burn on your pans.
A cheaper option than parchment paper, beeswax wraps are a great way to wrap sandwiches or store food in the fridge. You could use food-grade beeswax paper for making fudge or as a counter liner when rolling out pie dough to prevent making a mess on the kitchen counter.
Another way you could use wax food wraps is as a separation between food items to prevent them from sticking to each other when you freeze them.
Is Aluminum Foil Eco-Friendly And Recyclable?
Aluminum foil is not eco-friendly as it uses a lot of fossil fuel energy to produce, along with the by-products like greenhouse gas emissions and aquatic toxicity, not to mention the human health issues it is alleged to cause.
You can recycle aluminum foil to a certain degree. It is a recyclable product if you wash the aluminum foil before throwing it into the recycle bin. This is because the foil needs to be clean to be able to go through the process of recycling; any dirty foil will contaminate the whole batch, which will have to be discarded, and that adds to the waste problem.
So having aluminum foil that has burned food or dried sauces sticking to it will not be viable for recycling; it will then have to be thrown away with the normal garbage, and according to research, aluminum foil can take up to 400 years to breakdown, if it is burned it adds to the toxic gasses that are emitted into the air.
Is Aluminum Foil Safe?
Is aluminum foil bad for you or not? Unfortunately, this isn’t a simple yes or no. There are pros and cons to using aluminum foil, and it ultimately depends on the individual’s opinion. Some people believe that the use of aluminum foil (tin foil) can cause health problems, such as Alzheimer’s disease, while others believe that it is safe to use.
The jury is still out on whether or not aluminum foil is safe to use, but if you are worried about the potential health risks as well as the environmental concerns there are plenty of alternatives that can be used.
Does Aluminum Foil Leach Into Food While Cooking?
It is alleged that aluminum foil can pose health issues on top of its environmental issues. When used for covering food for cold storage, there isn’t really a risk factor, but tin foil can leach into your food when cooking at high temperatures.
The higher the temperature is, the more it leaches into your hot food, and this effect is increased when cooking acidic foods like tomatoes in foil as the acidity reacts with the foil.
Although you can find aluminum in many products, it is currently considered that small amounts are not detrimental, but exposure to high doses can affect your health.
When you think about it, you will find that you use a lot of aluminum foil in your everyday routine in the kitchen, and the sad fact is that it is not the best alternative for the environment.
The good news is that there are plenty of eco-friendly aluminum foil alternative products out there that are cheaper and reusable to help you eliminate aluminum foil from your kitchen.
I have used a number of them recently like beeswax wrap for sandwiches and silicone baking mats and find them more cost-effective in the long run without too much inconvenience. So give it a go and try some of these green alternatives today.