Ways that I am Dealing with Plastics and BPA

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Concerns about the safety of plastics, particularly those made with BPA, are increasing. This article gives some good ideas for limiting our exposure to this dangerous chemical.

As I understand it so far, when plastics, particularly those with BPA, get hot, toxic chemicals are released into the food or beverage inside the container. Not good!

I wanted to share some of the ways that I am being more careful about limiting my family's exposure to BPA. Most of these are pretty simple and doable for the the average family (I think):

-I use glass canning jars for a lot of food storage needs. With wide mouths and regular, there are only 2 size tops to deal with. I have a cabinet with a nice assortment of quarts, pints, and half pint jars. They work great for most leftovers, and can even go into the freezer. (just be sure to leave a half inch or more of space if freezing liquids in glass jars) You can find jars at most grocery stores. They are extremely versatile and last a long, long time.

-I read that Ziploc brand storage bags are BPA-free, so I am now spending a little extra to get that brand instead of others.

-I no longer put any hot foods into any plastic bag or containers. We only use plastic for dry or cold items. (cereal or pretzels for a car ride snack, leftover applesauce if there are no jars available, etc.)

-For times when I have hot foods that need to be stored in plastic, I first use a glass 9 x 13 pan and flash freeze (or cool) the food, then transfer the frozen food to the plastic bag or container that I like to use.

-We NEVER EVER microwave any kind of plastic. This includes "paper" plates that have a plastic coating on them. And that goes double for any kind of convenience foods that are packaged in plastic, with instructions to microwave the stuff inside the packaging. If you buy stuff like that, just take the food out of the plastic, but it on a ceramic or glass plate, and microwave it as usual. (or cook it on the stove top or in the oven, if you like)

-I never did this, but I know people that do: DO NOT cook your frozen veggies inside the plastic bag. I don't care if it says that it's a "steamer" package--it's not good for you, and plenty easy to just put into a glass or ceramic bowl or casserole dish to cook.

-We never serve hot drinks in any plastic cups, or paper cups coated with plastic.

-The paper plates that I do buy are 100% paper. No plastic ingredients.

-We have some plastic "kid plates" in fun colors that I used to serve dinner to my children on sometimes. I no longer serve any kind of hot or warm food on those, or in any plastic bowls. (we have some Tupperware cereal bowls that are only allowed to be used for cold items now)

-We are looking for stainless steel water bottles for the whole family, but are having trouble finding ones that we are sure don't have any BPA parts. In the meantime, when we do use bottled water, we have made some adjustments: We no longer keep a large pack of bottled water in the car. The heat that builds up in the car is enough to make the water hot, which means the plastic container is getting hot too. And we want to avoid that. Although I realize that it is possible that any bottled water could have gotten hot before we even bought it, when we do buy it, I store it in the house, and we take our bottles out of the fridge before we go someplace. And we try not to leave the bottles sitting in the car if it is getting warm out. Now that cooler weather is here, this will not be as much of an issue for a few months.

-Now that I know that the insides of metal cans (for basically every canned food) is likely to have BPA that will have been heated and leached into the food, I am avoiding canned foods as much as possible. I have been choosing more frozen and fresh items in order to avoid the BPA as much as possible.

-I am choosing to purchase more items that are sold in glass jars instead of plastic. (Bonus: If you don't have many glass storage jars, this is a way that you can start a collection for free! Buy your spaghetti sauce in glass jars and then wash and reuse the jars. Easy!)

Future plans for continuing to increase our level of safety in regards to BPA:

-I plan to buy glass pyrex storage containers for the items that do not fit well in a glass jar. So far what I see is that most of the flatter pyrex containers do use plastic tops, but I would consider that an improvement over some of the options I have on hand right now. (and I would still be careful about not letting hot food come into contact with the plastic lids)

-We will eventually find stainless steel (NOT aluminum) water bottles and invest in them for our whole family. Then we won't be buying so much bottled water while out and about.

-I will continue to move more and more toward fresh, unprocessed foods that do not come packaged in plastic or cans coated with BPA.

What are some ways that YOU are avoiding plastics and BPA?

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