This week, Bolder (see previous post) posted new challenges, one of which challenged people to stop using plastic bottled water for a day. Bottled water has many negatives- from the quality of the water (future blog post!) to the leeching of chemicals from the plastics used to bottle it. Bolder’s challenge got me thinking about plastic containers of all sorts.
Open your cabinets- most people have stacks of plastic bins, Tupperware-style storage containers, boxes of ziplock-style baggies, not to mention all the plastic containers our food, cleaning supplies, and hygiene items come in! By now, many people have become accustomed to checking the number on the bottom of these items to see if it’s recyclable in their communities. But what else can these numbers tell us!?
These numbers can tell you which ones are safe and which ones are hazardous to your health! Hazardous plastics have been used for common sports water bottles as well as baby bottles and baby food containers!
As a quick, visual reference:
A good rule of thumb – and you might post this on your fridge – #’s 2, 4, and 5 are SAFE and will not leech chemicals into your food/drink. You should avoid #’s 3, 6, and 7 completely. #1 is a bit controversial, hence the yellow marking above. #1 is VERY common and is often what plastic bottled water comes in. Some sources say #1 is safe for ONE USE ONLY. Other sources say avoid it. Here are some articles that discuss the chemical make-up, heath risks, and common uses of each of these plastics:
Your best bet, in addition to posting the chart above, is to try and avoid plastic containers and packaging all together. You will quickly realize how much plastic is used in America. The raw materials needed to produce most plastics come from petroleum and natural gas. See, it’s not just our cars that are contributing to the massive need for petroleum!
Here are a few quick and easy ways to reduce your individual use of plastic materials:
- Don’t use the grocery store’s plastic bags for produce! Use a reusable produce bag instead – many companies are making them: Blue Avocado, EcoBags, or you can check Etsy too!
- Buy food from bulk bins if your grocery offers it, then store in glass containers like mason jars! We do this for lots of stuff- popcorn kernals, sugar, croutons, pasta noodles, pretzels, etc.
- Opt out of using plastic grocery bags at the check-out. Take your own cloth bag! I have about 15 or so and that covers a full trip to the store. Many places now offer a small discount for using your own bags too!
If more and more of us refuse to use these unsafe materials it will make an impact! In the meantime, do your health a favor and stop eating and drinking chemicals from plastic!!