Plastic Free Kitchen

Image: Food52

Image: Food52

OK, so I know I just wrote about how we should extend the life of our items, even plastic ones, rather than sending them to the landfill or to be downcycled, but consider this post an addendum to the previous one.

The one place where I think it behooves us to get rid of our plastic is in the kitchen.  Not only are plastic containers and utensils (in my opinion) unsightly, but they may be unsafe as well. 

It’s fairly common knowledge in the scientific world that food stored in plastic will end up containing trace amounts of plastic, as it “leaches” into the food.  Leaching seems to be worse when the food stored inside is particularly acidic, fatty, or salty, or when the food is heated.

Are these trace amounts of plastic unsafe?  Maybe.  They haven’t been proven to be safe, but neither have they been proven to be unsafe.  Either way, most humans have trace amounts of plastic in their bloodstreams, particularly BPA and phthalates.  Yikes.

You’ve probably heard a bit about BPA and phthalates, as there are a number of products that now market themselves as BPA and phthalate free.  But what does that mean?  BPA and phthalates are each chemicals that are commonly found in plastic packaging.  BPA, incidentally, is also found in the linings of canned foods.  So what’s so bad about them?

BPA has been shown to disrupt reproductive development in lab animals, and high levels of BPA in urine have been linked to diabetes, heart disease, and liver toxicity.  Phthalates, on the other hand, disrupt testosterone action in men, and have been linked to low sperm count.  Double yikes.

While the FDA still has not concluded what, if any, amounts of BPA and phthalates in the bloodstream are safe, I for one am not waiting around to find out.  Switching to glass containers is a sacrifice well worth making, if it means shielding myself and my husband from potentially harmful substances in our food. 

And let’s talk for a second about Teflon and plastic utensils.  If storing my food in plastic containers is unsafe, I’m certainly not going to make a plastic utensil hot and touch my food with it.  And get this about Teflon:  if you have a pet bird in your kitchen, and you overheat a Teflon pan on the stove, the fumes from the pan will kill your bird.  Yeah.  Do those sound like fumes you want to be breathing in on the regular?  Not me, buddy. 

I’ve always though cast iron pans, glass jars, and wooden utensils were the most elegant way to go, but now that I know they’re the safe way to go too, it’s a no-brainer.  So what will I do with my plastic containers that are now no longer useful for food?  I'll try to re-purpose them in my bathroom closet, or office, as containers for hair ties, bobby pins, paper clips, headphones, jewelry, etc.  Otherwise I'll give them to a friend or coworker who might get some use out of them, while giving them a heads-up that it's probably best not to use them to store food. 

Source Article: