What do you usually use to store your leftovers? Glass? Or do you still use plastic containers? Or have you not really thought about it in some time and just throw your food in whatever you can find that’s reasonably clean? If you’re still using plastic, perhaps it’s time to rethink that decision.
Why should you banish the plastics?
1. Plastics are made from petroleum. Oil. A finite resource. A pollutant. A substance which has fueled (literally and figuratively) wars. A substance which leaked into the Gulf of Mexico for months after last April’s explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig. By cutting down on the amount of plastic you consume, you cut down on the demand for oil. This does not simply apply to plastic food containers, but also plastic packaging around food, plastic water bottles, plastic around consumer goods… I am sure you get the idea. Plus, plastic is not always recyclable throughout the country.
2. Soft plastics, such as plastic wrap, PVC, and bottle cap liners, include substances called phthalates. Phthalates act as endocrine disruptors, which means that it’s causing shifts in your hormone levels. It is also possible that phthalates can cause weight gain. Another chemical in this type of plastic is DEHA, which can get into your food if it comes in direct contact, especially if it’s a fatty food. DEHA is listed as a possible carcinogen by the Environmental Protection Agency, but somehow a substance which can cause cancer is allowed in material which touches food.
3. Hard plastics, such a plastic food containers and water bottles, contain Bisphenol A, also known as BPA. This chemical has been getting some bad press in recent years, and with good reason. For some time it has been known that BPA mimics estrogen, which, again, will disrupt the balance of hormones in the body. This can lead to cancer and birth defects. BPA is also in a lot more substances than bottles; metal cans are often lined with BPA. When this plastic is heated, it will leak into any food it comes into contact with.
I’ve started making the switch from plastic food storage to glass. Right now I favor Pyrex storage (and I do not get paid to say that), because it is glass, very durable (it’s used in chemistry labs), and while the lids for its storage containers are plastic, they are a durable BPA-free plastic. I also will not put them through the dishwasher even though they claim to be dishwasher-safe, because I do not want to risk the heat releasing some unknown chemicals which might get into my food.
Do you want to make the switch over to glass storage containers? If you’re reading this before January 26, 2011, you’re in luck! I am offering a a set of three Pyrex storage containers to one lucky winner. See this entry to find out how to qualify.
Information from this post primarily came from the book Politically Incorrect Nutrition by Michael Barbee.