It’s fairly common knowledge that toxic chemicals can leach out of many plastic containers into food or drinks. Luckily for modern consumers, this is fairly easy to avoid. Toss any scratched plastic, recycle numbers 3, 6 & 7 (found on the bottom) and refrain from heating food in plastic.
Keep reading for detailed information on what recycle numbers found on the bottom of containers mean, and even further down for better, cheaper options for your family.
|polyethylene terephthalate: light-weight plastic commonly found in water bottles, safe for single use – should not be reused|
|high density polyethylene: thicker and opaque plastic commonly found in milk jugs, low risk of leaching and can safely be reused|
|polyvinyl chloride: manufactures release dioxin (potent carcinogen) into the environment; may contain phthalates (hormone disrupters)|
|low density polyethylene: soft, flexible plastic such as grocery store bags; historically difficult to find recycling receptacles for #4|
|polypropylene: hard, flexible plastic such as yogurt containers; becoming more accepted by recyclers|
|polystyrene: hard, opaque plastic such as disposable spoons, plates & Styrofoam; can leach styrene a known neurotoxin, hard to recycle|
|other: can include polycarbonate (source of endocrine disruptor BPA, found in most baby bottles); can also include compostable green plastics (polyactide) made from potatoes, corn or rice – avoid #7, unless labeled as one of the newer bio-based plastics|
The cheapest and most eco-friendly thing you can do is save your old glass containers. Re-purposed jelly, pesto, and tomato sauce jars are my favorite! Ball Mason jars in a variety of sizes are available at most grocery stores, and online for a low-price.
I couldn’t live without Pyrex containers. My husband found a 10-pack in the discount bin at Bed, Bath & Beyond for just $19 (the cardboard packaging was dented). They’re great for storage and can be used in the microwave and oven. Since they’re clear – I often use them at the table when it’s just family and close friends because there’s virtually no clean-up. Pop the lid back on and stick in the fridge. Done!
Instead of plastic sandwich bags that often get tossed after just one use, I’ve recently started using Lunchskins. They go right in the dishwasher. I wouldn’t recommend transporting anything too messy, but they’ve been great for simple sandwiches and snacks.