Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Safer Plastics?? Lets just try to avoid them.

Did you know that there are over 10,000 kinds of plastics? Gasp! I had no idea.  Plastics are not required by law to be labeled and I think this law should be changed.  All plastics degrade over time and have the potential to leach.  Safer plastics leach less and/or have less toxic ingredients. Note the word "less". Meaning that there is no safe plastic really. The plastics you should be especially attentive to those that touch your skin, foods, or beverages.  To help reduce pollution, look for plastics you can recycle or just plain avoid them as much as possible.

If you do use plastics, you should try to learn about the safer plastics and what number they are. Here is a breakdown to help you out.

#1-PET. Safer
Uses-Soda bottles, water bottles, cooking oil bottles. Should not be reused.

#2 HDPE Safer
Uses-Milk Jugs, Plastic bags, yogurt cups.

#3 PVC Avoid
Uses-Salad Dressing Bottles, Cling Wrap, Teething Rings, Pacifiers, Toys, Shower Curtains.
Concerns-Can leach lead and phthalates among other things. Can also off-gas toxic chemicals.

#4 LDPE Safer
Uses-Produce bags, food storage containers

#5 PP Safer
Uses-Bottle caps, storage containers, dish ware

#6 PS Avoid
Uses-Meat trays, foam food containers and cups.
Concerns-Can leach cancer causing styrene.

#7 Other Avoid
This is a catch all category which includes PC and it can leach BPA.
MF, ABS and SAN. These are plastics that are safer because they are very durable and resistent to high heat resulting in less leaching.   The drawback is that they are usually not recyclable and some need additional safety research. The new plant-based biodegradable plastics like PLA also fall into the #7 category.

How to be wise with plastics
Never expose plastics to extreme heat or use plastic in the microwave. Avoid it all together if possible.  Avoid storing fatty or acidic foods in plastic containers. Hand wash plastics with mild soapy water and if you notice the plastic looks worn, scratched or cracked-stop using it and recycle it.

How can I avoid plastics? Well at first it seems hard but I promise its not. Its actually pretty easy. Here are a few ways I avoid plastics and get around not having to use them.

-Stop buying plastic all together. This includes plastic storage lunch type bags (will not use the name but they start with a Z), cling wrap, plastic storage containers, and plastic disposable (actually just dont buy anything disposable).

-Find glass containers with lids at thrift stores and yard sales. This way you will not need plastic cling wrap to cover food. I also just use large glass bowls and put a plate on it to keep it from getting yucky in the fridge.

-Use stainless steel or glass containers in lunch's. Glass containers in lunches should be thick glass but be aware that they do come with plastic lids. Hand wash them in warm water only. Be prepared to spend a little more cash for stainless steel and these will leak if liquid food is put into them.

-Use reusable fabric bags for sandwich's and snacks. These can breath easy and keep your food from getting yucky.  They also can be hand washed or tossed in the washer. Hang to dry. These usually cost around $6 a piece. I bought mine 2 years ago and they are still being used 5 days a week with no problems. There are lots of directions online or you can just buy them online from places like Etsy or snacktaxi.

-To avoid salad dressings in plastic bottles, make your own salad dressing at home. Look up your favorite type of dressing on recipezaar and use a glass container.  Should keep for 1 week in the fridge.

-Natures Way is a great product too. They make great wax paper  and wax paper bags for sandwich's you can toss in the garbage .

One thing that really helped me out was reading this amazing blog by Beth Terry called Fake Plastic Fish. I suggest reading her blog and follow her on her journey to rid plastic out of her life.  Learn how to avoid them and to take a active role in getting companies to get rid of their plastic habits.

Just today the Crunchy Chicken did an amazing post on getting rid of plastics. Don't forget to read all the comments. There are so many good tips on how to get rid of plastic and use other alternatives.

To make your life easier check these companies out. They have everything reusable that you can think of.
planetbox ( I really really want these!)
lunchboxes-the old hum drum lunch box dad always used
happytiffin ( again I really really want this!)


Wonder-ful said...

We're trying to weed out the plastic and as we're cleaning the house and getting rid of some stuff, we're finding more stuff buried behind things. Like cleaners. We have some things that are concentrated products (bought in multiples) but never used them because they were hidden behind the unused costo-containers of simple green or windex. Our rule right now is to use up what we have and not bring in plastic-cr@p. If it means getting the glass jar of peanut butter over the cheaper plastic jar, so be it (and I get a new glass jar to store stuff in when the PB is gone).

As for functional plastic-crud... like the storage stuff whose brand name begins with T, if we can get it away from grams, it's going in the yard sale. We have so much of it that even if I didn't loath the plastic stuff, we'd still never get it all to fit in the kitchen, let alone use it. I'd rather reduce demand by letting someone else use it than have it here or in a landfill.

Ooh! And I want those tiffins too! My college roomie would bring one full of indian food when she'd come back from a visit home. I loved those things. I may put it on my gift list along with the reusable utensil set.

Surviving and thriving on pennies said...

Hey guess what? I own plastic that starts with the letter T too. I have rid myself of all T plastic plates, cups and bowls. Having a hard time finding large glass jars with lids to replace my T plastic thats holding all my baking stuff. I cant afford to go buy huge glass containers from those fancy stores. I might invest in some large containers of pickles and just give the pickles away ( not a fan of them but love pickled eggs...i know im gross lol) and just use the containers. They are much cheaper than the fancy ones. Idea for thought....
I have seen tiffin style containers at New Seasons a local NW store for about $20. You can get them online for around the same price but get them local and pay no shipping cost! Thinking of getting them for my girls lunch's. I can probably pack more food in them too! Another idea to ponder.
As for cleaner, well I have not rid myself of them 100%. I still have some bottles of Seventh Generation that I bought a while back. We will use them till they are all gone and I will start making my own cleaners. I have yet to find a recipe for homemade dish soap yet so until then, its Seventh Generation kind. I love their lavender kind, it smells so nice. And their plastic bottles are made with recycled material and can be recycled again.
I am not perfect, I too make the same mistakes everyone else makes. Its my journey to live a healthy and greener life and I will bring all of you with me. Lets stick together and learn from each other!

Wonder-ful said...

I love reading what others are trying because there are some pretty easy stuff I just completely overlook (like those two large storage bins of T-ware in the garage).

I was just commenting the other day to someone about the amount of paper we go through at work. My first year there, I use to safe the office notes then turn them into my own note pad at home (tear into 4's, use up the back side) before recycling. I can't believe I forgot it.

I may try the local asian grocer when shopping for tiffins. They should carry them and saves on shipping.

Patty said...

I saw a giant pickle jar on sale at the thrift store but I waited too long and someone else snagged it. Try checking with food kitchens or churches if they have empty giant pickle jars. The tv told me last night that the Duggars go through 150 giant pickle jars a year, maybe they have some jars for you! I'm a fan of Corningware and Pyrex as I try to use my plastics less and I really liked the tip over on the other sites to use the light weight Corelle for kids.

You mentioned shower curtain liner plastic...I know they "need to air out" (cough cough choke choke 'offgas') when they are new. What alternatives are out there?

Surviving and thriving on pennies said...

Patty-My mother used Carelle for years when I was younger. In fact I think she might still have them. I have no memories of any of them breaking. Amazing products.

As for shower curtains-you have me curious. I will do my research and see what I can find for you. I know they have PVC free ones but usually can only find them online. I will see what I can do and get back to all you with it. I am a victim of those nasty things too. For years I would just buy a shower liner from the Dollar Store and use it as a regular curtain. They smelt so bad that I would not allow my kids to go in the bathroom for a day or so. One of those horrible things I am not proud of.