I’ve had several friends ask me for advice on avoiding chemicals in products, from food and beverage containers to personal care products. So I decided to do a series I’m calling “Kristin approved” to highlight the products I use to avoid cancer-causing agents. Here’s the first installment on food and beverage containers. (disclaimer: these are my personal opinions based on the products I use, not the endorsement of the Breast Cancer Fund)
Some Background Info…
It doesn’t matter if it says BPA free, avoid plastics as best as you can! There’s a common misconception that if a plastic is BPA free then it is safe to put food in. In actuality, BPA just happens to be the one identified chemical in plastic that has been publicized, often BPA-free plastics contain chemicals that are just as bad or worse. Don’t believe me? Check out these articles:
- BPA substitutes are also endocrine disruptors: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130122191412.htm
- Most plastics lead hormone-like chemicals: http://www.npr.org/2011/03/02/134196209/study-most-plastics-leach-hormone-like-chemicals
- Breast Cancer Fund: BPA and Alternatives FAQ: http://www.breastcancerfund.org/big-picture-solutions/make-our-products-safe/cans-not-cancer/faq.html
What can you do? The Breast Cancer Fund has some great tips at this link, but the easiest thing to do is to cut out plastic from your life, especially your food containers. But first, know your plastics. Try to avoid the worst ones — #3, 6, and 7. The Breast Cancer Fund identifies 5 chemicals to be especially wary of: BPA, styrene, dioxin, vinyl chloride, and dioxin. Be aware that many seemingly innocent items are lined with plastics (e.g. aluminum water bottles, canned foods). You can read more about these chemicals and where they are found at this link or in the table below.
Second, try to cut out plastics from your food storage. This isn’t always possible – I still get my iced coffee in a plastic cup every now and then, but the key is to reduce your exposure as much as possible! These aren’t chemicals that are okay to get a little bit of over time, every little exposure adds up to your cumulative dosage. Here’s a list of some of my favorite plastic alternatives:
Kristin Approved: plastic free food
1. Klean Kanteen pint glass and Cuisinart Smart Stick Immersion Blender: For your smoothie making needs without plastic. I make my morning smoothies right in the cup and the all stainless hand blender (except for a small silicone o-ring) makes sure no plastic touches my fruits. Acids like those found in citrus fruits can cause plastic breakdown leading to nasty chemicals in your food. This setup replaced my “magic bullet” plastic blender.
2. Bormiolo Rocco Frigoverre Jug: I don’t like keeping my filtered water in a plastic container, so after I filter it I pour it into this glass jug. This minimizes the contact of the water with the plastic. The lid hermetically seals, which means the water is airtight and won’t absorb smells from your refrigerator. This is also a great option for storing fruit juices or iced tea, since you wouldn’t want to store acidic juice or hot liquid in a plastic pitcher. The lid is plastic but it doesn’t contact the water, and after much research this seemed like the best option to me for minimizing overall plastic-water contact.
3. Canning Jars: Ball canning jars work great for storing food; they’re not just for canning! I use them for storing leftovers (soup, sauces) and dry ingredients like grains and nuts.
4. Coffee Cups: Starbucks Stainless Steel Tumbler and Klean Kanteen insulated: I have two coffee cups that I love. The Starbucks stainless steel tumbler is the only iced coffee cup that I have found that has all stainless inside and a stainless straw. The only plastic on this is the inside of the lid, which is unfortunate especially since it is a #7. Even so, a little splashing against the inside top of this has got to be better than soaking in a cup made entirely of plastic. Eventually I’d like to find something like this with a stainless lid, maybe Klean Kanteen will come out with that at some point! My other coffee cup is an all stainless insulated cup with a stainless lid. No plastic touches my hot coffee at all, just the way I like it.
5. Klean Kanteen water bottles: They come in all sorts of sizes and designs and they’re all stainless steel. My favorite are the 27oz classics and the all stainless lids. On a side note, Klean Kanteen is a sponsor of Climb Against the Odds and a major supporter of the Breast Cancer Fund.
6. Stainless steel lunchpail and bamboo silverware from To-Goware and Bambu spork: I use the To-Go Ware tiffin for my lunch – they can be used as single containers or can be stacked for 2 or 3 containers worth of food. They make bamboo silverware as well that I’m a fan of. Bambu also makes some good bamboo products, like the spork below that I throw in my bag for lunch sometimes.
7. Glass Pyrex storage containers: For my leftovers I use glass pyrex containers. Yes the lids are plastic, but this is the best option I’ve been able to find (the all glass lids don’t hold a seal well in my experience). I’ve been slowly filling up my cabinet with these and throwing out the plastic. They also freeze well and can be put in the oven (without the lid) for easy reheating of leftovers.