Plastic is convenient and universal. But if you’ve read the news lately, you probably have a nagging suspicion that it’s not as miraculous and harmless as it once seemed. The islands of plastic clogging our oceans. The animals enjoying a steady diet of plastic bags. The tin can linings and baby bottles infused with endocrine-disrupting chemicals. Even the president is telling us to ditch plastic in our microwaves.
Here are three solid reasons to avoid plastic:
- It can leach dangerous chemicals into your food. Some plastic wraps are PVC (polyvinyl chloride), which is made with heavy metals like lead and has been linked to asthma, liver damage and DNA mutation. Many food storage options – like plastic containers and sports bottles – are made with BPA, which is believed to increase reproductive problems and cancer risk.
- Plastic wraps/baggies are used once and then tossed, creating mountains of garbage that can take decades to degrade.
- When plastic does degrade, its chemical components just wind up in our water, soil, and the bodies of most critters in the food chain – including us.
There are better choices for the Earth and the humans that live here. The key to kicking the plastic habit is a good arsenal of reusable alternatives.
In the Kitchen
Different products work for different types of food storage needs – experiment with what works for you. Although conventional plastic products are handy and transparent, there are many glass, silicone and BPA-free plastic options to ensure your food doesn’t languish unidentified in the nether regions of your fridge.
- The recycled, BPA-free U-Konserve Clear Food Cozy is designed with Velcro closures – perfect for wrapping sandwiches, cheese and other tidbits.
- Replace plastic Tupperware with glass Pyrex containers in a variety of sizes. Good old-fashioned food storage, just like Mom used to use.
- Use Abeego Flats instead of plastic wrap to cover bowls. Made of moldable beeswax-covered fabric, it’s fluid and air-resistant to keep food fresh.
- Plastic leaches more with fatty or warm foods, so never use it in the microwave. Heat or cook in your Pyrex, or use a silicone cover for your daily dishes. Coverflex makes a good set.
- Instead of recycling empty peanut butter and mayo jars, wash and re-use them. They’re just the right size for storing leftovers and single servings.
On the Go
With the right tools and a pinch of planning, lunches and picnics can turn green, too.
- Refill stainless steel water bottles instead of buying bottled water. Make your own sparkling water and flavored sodas with a bubbly maker like SodaStream, which comes with reusable bottles.
- If you have a thing for baggies, reusable pouches are right up your alley. Snack Taxi and BleuRoo make adorable organic pouches that are moisture resistant and machine washable. They are indispensable travel companions and can be used for lunches, snacks, crayons, makeup, DVDs – you name it.
- For lunches, the Planet Box is a game changer. It makes packing so easy, you’ll wonder how you survived before you had one (or two, or three). Cozy compartments keep sandwich and snacks safe and sound.
- Get some reusable shopping bags – and use them! Invest in bags made from renewable fabric, like Envirosax’s stylin’ hemp, bamboo or organic cotton models. But any reusable bag is better than a take n’ toss. Keep a stash in your car or coat closet for last-minute grocery runs. Pop a Chico Bag in your purse or pocket. You’ll never have to say yes to a plastic bag again.
How do you avoid plastics?