Kitchen Stewardship | A Baby Steps Approach to Balanced Nutrition

Monday Mission: Analyzing Aluminum FOIL in August

August 10th, 2009 · 33 Comments · Avoiding Waste

aluminum foil reduce reuse recycleYour mission, if you choose to accept, is to reduce your consumption of aluminum foil.

Impact Ratings: earthpositivehealthpositive moneyhalf-pos

Level of Commitment: Baby Steps

This is a classic reduce, reuse, recycle challenge.  I’m going to offer multiple options today; choose one or more to fit your lifestyle – but be sure to at least take one step forward in Analyzing Aluminum!

Why Recycle Aluminum Foil?

Because aluminum is a non-renewable resource, it’s REALLY important to recycle it. God only created a certain amount on this earth, and when we use it up, it’s gone forever!  Aluminum is quite easily recycled, luckily, so challenge number one is simple:  recycle your aluminum at all opportunities, including cans, foil, pans, etc.  If your community doesn’t offer aluminum recycling, that makes it all the more important to reduce and reuse…keep reading!

What Should I Use Aluminum Foil For?

Aluminum has been linked to Alzheimer’s recently, so if you can avoid letting it touch your food, that’s the safest choice.  For me, there are still a few places I can’t think of anything else to use:

  • Grilling foil packets of veggies
  • Covering casserole dishes that have no lid when baking…
  • UPDATE: Yes! I knew there had to be a better way! Thank you to a faithful reader for thinking it through for all of us. Try a cookie sheet turned upside down on your next casserole – I know I’m going to!

There are a lot of places I see other people use it.  Here are some simple steps to switch out your aluminum foil for something else:

  1. Please, please, please…stop covering plates and bowls and brownies with foil just for storage!  I nearly have a heart attack when I see people do this.  And they usually don’t even reuse the foil, even when it basically clean.  Such a waste.  Cover your leftovers in a lidded dish or with plastic wrap, wax paper, paper towel, your child’s dirty t-shirt…seriously, ANYthing but non-renewable aluminum foil!
  2. Skip the foil to line a cookie sheet to bake something messy (like sweet potatoes).  Just switch to parchment paper or a nifty silicone mat like this one: Silpat 11-5/8-by-16-1/2-Inch Nonstick Silicone Baking Mat (See my Gadget Wishlist for a picture.)
  3. Baked potatoes.  Did you know potatoes don’t have to be wrapped in foil to bake? As long as you puncture the skin, you can bake them on a cookie sheet unwrapped.  The skins get crispier and are easy to peel off if you don’t like them or are using the potatoes for potato salad.  If you don’t like them crispy, coat the potatoes with oil before baking.  Here’s my new method for restaurant-style baked potatoes (sans foil).
  4. Consider cans.  If you regularly drink a beverage from an aluminum can, at the VERY least, recycle every single one. Beyond that, consider whether your beverage comes in another kind of container.  We’ve found it’s less expensive to buy 2-liter bottles of pop than cans (although glass would be even nicer, considering the dangers of plastics!).  And yes, hubby shouldn’t drink soda pop at all, but that’s not something I can change without having to sleep on the couch!
  5. If you line brownie or bread pans with foil to lift them out easier, try parchment paper instead.

analalum2

Use Aluminum Foil Until it Falls Apart

Aluminum Foil is great for reusing.  When I bake potatoes in foil, I save and reuse the foil until I can’t do it anymore.  When I receive a plate of food wrapped in foil (see no. 1 above), after recovering from my waste-of-resources heart attack, I carefully fold the foil and reuse it for covering casserole dishes or grilling.  You can do this, too!

I remember a cousin getting grossed out once that I reused foil on baked potatoes.  ???  It’s touching a washed potato skin that no one has licked, spit on, or eaten from, peeled off and put back in my drawer.  What’s any grosser about that than washing the kitchen table and using that again?

Reuse your foil. Do it for me (or the earth or your budget, whatever!).

I also notice I don’t buy foil very often, so this definitely helps my budget!

added bonusAdded Bonus: This is a classic Kitchen Stewardship example, because you make a positive impact on the earth, your pocketbook AND your health all by making some simple changes.

I’d love to see more of you!  Sign up for an email subscription or grab my reader feed.

If you missed the last Monday Mission, click here.

Kitchen Stewardship is dedicated to balancing God’s gifts of time, health, earth and money.  If you feel called to such a mission, read more at Mission, Method, and Mary and Martha Moments.

I’m pleased to link up with the All Things Eco Blog Carnival at Focus Organic, Ann Kroeker’s Make-Do Mondays, Homemaker Mondays at 11th Heaven’s Homemaking Haven, and Tightwad Tuesdays at Being Frugal and the Green Moms Carnival at Mindful Momma.

Have you seen these posts from Mind the Microwave in May?


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33 Comments so far ↓

  • Make-Do Mondays: Drying Clothes on Humid Days (without resorting to the dryer) «

    [...] Kitchen Stewardship (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Aluminum Foil) [...]

  • Ann Kroeker

    Wow, you are teaching us so much! Thanks so much for waking us up with important reminders!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Erin

    A tiny bit of olive oil and coarse sea salt on your baked potatoes will make them SO yummy with no foil. Crispy, salty skin that my husband and child will eat and less aluminum. Double win!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Frances

    My county does not accept aluminum foil in the recycling bins. A recycling educator explained that aluminum foil is made from the refuse (or most impure) aluminum at the bottom of the melting pot – it’s not good enough for cans or any other sturdy aluminum product. So tossing used aluminum into the recycle melting pot would be adding more refuse/impurities. They don’t do it.

    I haven’t done any additional research on this, so I am not 100% sure it’s true. But it’s what I was told by my country recycling representative so I follow the rules and throw what little aluminum foil I use into the trash when it’s beyond reuse.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    Hmmmmm…definitely on my list to research more. Thank you so much for sharing that with us (what country, by the way?).

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    I checked my community’s recycle list, and they accept “foil products”, so I’ll keep throwing my aluminum foil in there until I learn otherwise…although this may be worth a call to the city to ask specifically.

    [Reply to this comment]

    robertg222 Reply:

    Frances
    Your recycling educator doesn’t have a clue about aluminum. Aluminum foil has to be very high grade just because of the process of making so thin. If it wasn’t pure any flaw would show up in the foil product. More than likely they don’t want to deal with the food that might be on the foil. I suggest you roll the old foil into a pencil shape and then stick it into an aluminum can and then toss it into the recycling bin. BTW the aluminum plants are set up to handle impurities.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Sharinskishe

    I do like aluminum foil, however I have always tried to be a good steward over my alum resources.

    But I do have to admit…………… I love the non-stick foil. I have been using it with my meats, casseroles and (shame on me) brownies. But I try to get the foods out clean- no nicks or holes in the foil, so I can wash it out (or wipe it out) and use it again.

    My real solution to not using Alum Foil is using cast iron, crocks and stoneware. They are all wonderfully non-stick when seasoned correctly. But I still love my foil.

    Thanks for reminding us of alternatives and solutions when it comes to foil.

    Shari

    [Reply to this comment]

  • mom2my9 @ 11th Heaven

    Thank you so much for your inspirational post. I always want to do better about eating right and taking care of the environment after visiting your site! Thank you so much for linking up to us at Homemaker Monday! I look forward to seeing you again next week!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • ~M

    In terms of covering casserole dishes when baking…what about using a non-aluminum cookie sheet turned over?

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    LOVE it! Going to update the post now! I knew I’d get some good ideas from my readers… Thanks! :)

    [Reply to this comment]

    Laura Reply:

    I know I’m late to the party, but I have been known to cover something with parchment and then alum foil to seal it. I can cover things in the oven, the parchment doesn’t burn and I can throw the parchment away and reuse the foil. Works for potatoes, covering a casserole or roasted dish. Love your site!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Kissy

    Hi Katie!
    Thanks again for a great post. Will you be talking about alum/deodorant at all this month? Just curious, I recently started trying to switch part time over to a stone I picked up. Works well, and less bad stuff absorbed through the skin.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    Yes! It’s a Monday Mission two weeks from now.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Barbara Reply:

    What kind of stone are you talking about and where did you get it????

    Thanks, Barbara :)

    [Reply to this comment]

    kissy Reply:

    Hi Barbara, it is just called a deodorant stone. You wet it with some water and then just put it on like ‘normal’ deodorant. They have them all over. I found mine at Walgreens. I have seen them other places, usually in with the other deodorants. I think you can get them for about $5 and it will last you years.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    Barbara,
    It’s a baking stone, and mine is from Pampered Chef. They’re absolutely delightful to bake with! :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • suzannah

    i’ve never actually used foil packs on the grill. we grill zucchini right on the racks, and my dad uses a grill basket to grill all sorts of smaller veggies. (although the racks/baskets could possibly be made with aluminum…i have no idea.)

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    Ah, the grill basket! That’s what I need to put on my next birthday/Christmas wish list. I’d forgotten about those – thank you for reminding me! Here’s hoping they’re made of stainless steel… :)

    [Reply to this comment]

  • All Things Eco Blog Carnival Volume Sixty Three | Focus Organic.com

    [...] presents Monday Mission: Analyzing Aluminum FOIL in August posted at Kitchen Stewardship. Katie describes her submission as, “Some simple ideas to reduce our [...]

  • Travis

    Wow, very insightful!

    I too nearly have a heart attack when I see people so wasteful with such things as foil… using it for some mundane task and then throwing away an entire sheet that’s practically brand new!

    Being vegetarian I cook and eat A LOT of veggies… and I’ve actually gotten to the point where I don’t even use foil when cooking them. As tough as that sounds, it’s really not at all… and you can easily marinate them in a cooking tray and simply place that onto the grill without using gobs and gobs of foil.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • mother earth aka karen hanrahan

    Gosh — I can’t think when the last time it was that I used foil. I cook on a grill skillet, oil my baked potatoes and put them in the oven. Use a cookie sheet to catch splatters. Leftovers and such are stored in glass w/ lids. I bet I could eliminate it all together!!
    .-= mother earth aka karen hanrahan´s last blog ..Conserving Energy. Mine =-.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Alline

    Thanks for this post! You’re right – so much of foil use can be easily substituted with something else. When I do use foil, I try to use recycled: I find that “If you care” products are really good ( http://www.ifyoucare.com/products.htm)…

    [Reply to this comment]

  • blork

    A tip when it comes to grilling meats: the recipes (and the folklore) always say to “tent with aluminum foil” for five or ten minutes after the meat comes off the grill.

    Instead of using foil, you can use the lid of a pot (as long as the lid is deep enough so the meat doesn’t touch it). If the meat is really thick, like a roast, you can simply invert a pot over it.

    The goal is to cover the meat and let the juices redistribute as it cools slowly (as opposed to cooling quickly by being uncovered). Aluminum foil is only suggested because people are in the habit of using disposable things. Forget that! Use a pot or pot lid, which can be washed and re-used!

    Similarly (although it has nothing to do with aluminum foil), instructions for roasted/grilled peppers always say to put them in a plastic or paper bag for 15 or 20 minutes before removing the skins. Well, first of all, putting grill-hot peppers into a plastic bag is likely to melt it, and at the least may cause the plastic to give off nasty fumes. Second, using paper or plastic bags is an unnecessary use of a disposable.

    Instead, simply put the peppers into a pot or any other dish that has a cover. Again the goal is to contain the heat. There are other ways to do that besides using bags!

    Thanks for the tips!
    .-= blork´s last blog ..Invisible Man =-.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    Blork,
    I am planning to make roasted red peppers for the first time this year, so I appreciate the tip for sure!
    Thanks! Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Lisa

    I just don’t know what to do about freezing meat other than foil. I do reuse it and put natural biodegradable wax paper on first.

    Great tips!
    .-= Lisa´s last blog ..Decorate For Fall: Eco Style =-.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    Lisa,

    First, you can probably reuse aluminum foil that’s not touching food for so long that this is not a very big deal. Second, I use freezer paper alone or freezer paper inside a plastic bag to freeze meat, with great success. For cut-up chicken, I just use Ziplocs. Maybe that’s another option for you.
    Thanks for the question! Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Saving Iceland » Become an Aluminum Scrooge for the World’s Rivers

    [...] energy. And it’s not just about putting the cans in the bin; it’s about using less, and re-using what you can. It’s also possible to buy aluminum foil made of recycled metal. And, of course, [...]

  • Kim

    Is the fiberglass & silicone in silpats friendly to the body? I know you also make every effort not to introduce petrochemicals to your body’s environment.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    Kim,
    Welllll…I’ve only gone by what I’ve heard other bloggers say and haven’t done extensive research myself…I *think* it’s a safe option. Have you heard otherwise?
    Thanks, Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Penny

    Thank you for these tips!

    The one place where we still use aluminum foil is to make a packet to grill salmon on the barbecue. We love how moist and flavorful it becomes. I don’t know what I could use instead, any ideas?

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Penny,
    That’s a tricky one – my last holdout is foil packets for camping too. I use a grill basket for veggies and chicken strips on the grill. I suppose parchment paper would burn to wrap the fish…hmmm…

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Make-Ahead Freezer Meals--Getting Started - The Sprouting Seed

    […] a renewable resource so it’s not , it’s also been linked to alzheimer’s disease (read more here) Note: Although aluminum is an option, it’s not one I recommend for food. I don’t ever […]

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Welcome!  Meet Katie.

I embrace butter. I make homemade yogurt. I eat traditional real food – plants and animals that God created, not products of plants where food scientists work. Here at Kitchen Stewardship, I share how I strive to be a good steward of my family's nutrition, the environment, and our budget, all without spending every second in the kitchen. Learn more about the mission of KS here.

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