I have previously posted on some of the issues with plastics and recycling, but there are other, more immediate and personal concerns that I have about plastics which motivate me to try to limit them or even eliminate them from my life and the lives of those I care about.
Something that I doubt many people think about very often, judging by the widespread and unchallenged use of plastics, is what the effects are of the use of such plastics on our health. Chemicals from the plastics can migrate into the food you are eating, potentially posing a health hazard. Different types of plastics (which are often easily distinguished based on the recycling code stamped on them) each have their own unique considerations, so I won't be able to set out all of the concerns here. If you want to know more of the specifics, follow this link and scroll down to the table that sets everything out nicely. I am personally concerned more about the things that we don't know about plastics and their effects on our health. Ten years ago, BPA (PC7) was considered safe (although even then, there were concerns) and most children's bottles and sippy cups were made from it. Today it is acknowledged that high levels of BPA in the body are associated with heart disease, diabetes, high levels of liver enzymes, and disruption to the endocrine and reproductive systems. In Canada, BPA has been banned completely and is classified as a toxic substance. But ten years ago we thought it was safe.
In our household, we had, until very recently (today), been using reusable Ziploc containers for our meals that were eaten during the workday. The unfortunate reality is that these containers are not that durable if you have frozen them, so our once impressive collection was dwindling away, yet we were finding more and more things that we needed them for as I was making an increasing amount of our food from scratch. So I had been contemplating for some time what we should do when we finally need to buy some more containers. I knew that I didn't want to get anything made entirely from plastic, not only because of the issues with the production of plastic, but also the potential health consequences of storing food in plastic and the fact that most of these containers do eventually fail. Apart from knowing what I didn't want, I didn't really know where to start looking.
Thanks once again to the sage advice of Mr. Munu Hicken-Gaberria, I think that we've found a terrific solution. He suggested that I look into "Glasslock" containers, which are sold at London Drugs and lots of other places throughout Canada. There is a picture to the left of the containers I bought. They are very durable, and have snap-on plastic/rubber lids. They come with a 25 year warranty, and are currently on sale for about $15 at London Drugs. Other than the plastic lids (made from PC5 - the plastic that, from what I can tell, present the fewest health risks), which I've made my peace with, I am extremely pleased with this purchase, particularly because I know that they're not going to fail in the next year, causing me to buy more. I brought a few of them to work today and the only complaint I have, which is the result of operator error, is that the container with milk in it leaked a bit. I guess I'll have to start using one of my many glass milk bottles to transport my milk.
As for the remaining plastic containers which we have in our kitchen, we will continue to use them to purchase and transport dried bulk food when we go to the store for those items. I definitely want to get away from storing any moist foods in them, as I secretly believe the leaching from the plastic is much worse with liquids (not based on anything scientific, just my suspicion). We are still going to use them, and as they fail, put them into recycling. I'm not sure exactly what we'll do when we buy bulk foods once we run out entirely, but I'm sure we can find better options than buying new plastic containers.