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  • Writer's pictureandreakristin

Why it’s time to get plastic out of your kitchen

If we put the environmental issue of plastic aside (which is a huge problem!) the other issue with plastic in the kitchen is that it’s in contact with your foods, and when your plastic containers, kids plastic plates, cups, bottles and bowls become stressed, they can leach harmful materials into your foods and drinks. So how does plastic get stressed? Unfortunately easier than you think. Any exposure to heat - such as putting hot food in it, microwaving with it, running it through the dishwasher. Also freezing, scratches, acidic foods, and sunlight cause stress to plastics. When plastics become compromised (which is pretty easy to do), they leach hormone disrupting chemicals like Bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates.

Health risks from exposure to BPA & phthalates from plastics

Phthalates are proven to impact the reproductive system such as males sperm count, even when in vitro when mum is exposed to plastic contamination. BPA has been linked to obesity and adverse effects on the heart and brain, to name a few. As for children, BPA is especially troubling. Early childhood exposure links to ADHD behaviors – including inattention, hyperactivity, and Depression. There are countless studies you can search to find the dangers of BPA and Phthalates.

So why are these chemicals still used? They are the key ingredient to ensure hard plastics are able to be hard and durable.

Now you might be thinking how do you know what has BPA in it and what doesn’t? Well if it’s hard its likely that it does, soft, and flexible plastics are less likely to contain BPA. But you can look at the number detailed in the recycling triangle symbol imprinted on the item to have a better idea. The ‘better’ plastic containers for food are numbers 1, 2, 4, & 5. These are generally BPA-free. Products with numbers 3, 6, & especially 7 most often contain BPA. Plastic labeled #7 and/ or bearing the mark “PC” are polycarbonates. They contain BPA

The issue with using BPA free plastics But the real issue, all plastic, even BPA-free items—carries risk. The title of “BPA-free” is misleading altogether, as this plastic contains BPS instead. Studies show BPS almost mirrors BPA’s risks and are linked to diabetes, obesity, asthma, birth defects, and even cancer. And I am sure when this gets more widely known and they start making plastic BPS free too, they will have a new chemical that’s untested and likely to do the same thing.

There is also the issue of micro plastics. It is known that exposure to plastic leads to micro plastics breaking off and entering our body. This is so small that it makes its way through your entire body, enters your blood and can cross the blood-brain barrier. It is proven micropastics are in every organ and even our unborn children. The more exposure, the bigger the build up in your body, as unfortunately like forever chemicals, it never leaves your system.

So, this is why I think you should remove all plastic containers and dinnerware to keep any potential hazard and these ‘forever chemicals’ out of your foods and drinks and therefore out of you and your family.

Instead, choose proven non-toxic food containers - even under heat, freezing and general wear and tear such as glass, stainless steel, porcelain and silicone.

For kids dinnerware where they might be still throwing things around and need something less breakable look to medical grade silicone, nontoxic PLA, wood, and stainless steel. Stay away from anything that lists melamine - this is a type of plastic containing toxic chemicals. It’s often made with bamboo making you think it’s a better choice but unfortunately it isn’t.

All your cooking utensils should be plastic free as they get very hot in your pots and pans - it's impossible for them to not get stressed. Use wooden/bamboo, metal or silicone for all cooking, stirring, tong and serving utensils.

Also consider what you are cleaning your pots and pans with, most scrubbers and made from plastic, look to changing to ones with natural fibers, bristles and handles as these tools are in hot water getting rubbed all over your cookware and plates leaving microplastics and leaching chemicals.

Minimising the risks of plastics

I know breaking up with plastic can be hard, so if you need a bit of time before you get rid of it, or you decide to keep some pieces that don’t actually come into much contact with food (such as plastic spill lids for kids cups or plastic lids for glass containers) there are some steps you can take to reduce the risk of chemical contamination.

There is also the reality of plastic in things like your blender, juicer, and other appliances that you are going to want to keep. Follow these guidelines to reduce risk and avoid stressing your plastics:

  • Don’t microwave or otherwise heat food in any plastic - never put plastic in the microwave.

  • Don’t save or reuse commercial plastic food packaging or bottles, such as single-use takeout containers, or plastic water bottles. These aren’t meant to reuse and will pollute your food and drink with plastic.

  • Don’t serve or put hot foods or drinks in any plastic, only use for cold and room temperature foods.

  • Don’t wash any plastic in the dishwasher. The heat degrades the plastic.

  • Don’t store acidic foods in plastic. Acids fast-forward leaching.

  • Don’t leave plastic in direct sunlight, store in cupboards.

  • If you have plastic that’s several years old or is scratched up, get rid of it right away. Old, worn-out plastic deteriorates into food much more easily.

  • Food that you buy that is packaged in plastic, remove it into plastic free storage containers before storing or freezing.

My favorite plastic free alternatives:

Pantry containers:

Clear glass with wooden or glass/ silicone lids so I can easily see what's in them. These are from Myer, Country Road and Seed and Sprout

Since I got little kids who I want to be able to get their own cereal I wanted to avoid glass and opted for these tin containers which I love, they are from bunnings online.

For baking goods I have a mix of glass and tin as it's more about the labeling than seeing through. These tins are from the sugar brands and seed and sprout

Fridge Food storage:

My favourites are Seed and Sprout's glass rectangle and round ranges as well as thier pantry cylinders which are great for holding grape tomatoes, berries and all other fresh produce that I take out of plastic when I get home. Being glass they are easy to see what it is, a good seal with the silicone and can all go in the dishwasher.

Frank Green porcelain containers, while not completely see through they can not only go in the dishwasher but go in the oven which is handy and the best seal of any container I have used - perfect for baked goods. Frank Green silicone pouches are also my favourite, great for small items you would use a zip lock bag for but what makes these better than any other reusable pouches is they are thick and sturdy with a flat base making them easy to use, store and so much easier to clean and dry.

Kids cups and dinnerware:

For little kids that you need it to be throw and drop proof, I use Bobo & Bo and Amelia Frank. They are plant based and toxic free, while dishwasher proof I did find after a year or so they will crack from heat shock such as when adding hot rice to a bowl from a year of almost daily dishwasher use.

I ended up swapping to natural coconut bowls for hot food dishes which is working great. These are from Coconut Bowls and are not only natural but very environmentally friendly.

For very little ones, my favourite sippy cup are these from Lion + Lamb, they are made from wheat, are very strong, dishwasher proof and spill proof

Lunch boxes and snack containers:

I stick to steel with silicone seals for lunch and snack containers as they are tough and dishwasher safe. My favourite for when you want compartments that you don't want to leak into one another is the Seed And Sprout lunch boxes. The matching insulated bag is a perfect size to slide a chill pack in it and keeps things like yogurt cool all day.

For lunches that aren't going to kindy/school (not going to be sideways, upside down or thrown around in a kids bag!) but rather packed for me to carry on an outing or to take to work, I use Liewood. The lid makes it leak proof but liquid can go between compartments if turned upside down such a wetness from fruit on your sandwich!

Besides the compartment lunch boxes I love all the different sizes and styles of snack containers they have, so great for day trips, trips to the park and on long road trips/ flights where I can split up different items.

These fit great in the small Country Road insulated bag or big trips the bag from Business & Pleasure.

Drink bottles:

I have been through a lot of drink bottles and a lot just not made the cut. The hard thing is that for kids you really want a spout but almost all of them have a plastic spout/ straw even if the bottle is steel and the kids chew on them and I can see the plastic breaking up and know they are ingesting so much of it. Full silicone ones seem to get very slimy and gross extremely quickly and can't really handle the dishwasher. Frank Green recently brought out a new lid option which has a touch free silicone flip spout - so the kids aren't putting plastic in the mouth which is a huge win, the straw inside is metal and the bottle is steel coated in porcelain to remove that metallic taste, we switched to these a while back and are by far my favourite. It's triple isolated to keep thier water cold and a nice wide opening to easily put ice into. Other handy things is I could engrave thier names on it, and I added the silicone bumper to the bottom to help with banging wear and tear but also it can hold an AirTag which I love. No more loosing bottles both away from home and around the house and I know where they are when at kindy and day care.

While this can be a little distressing to find out and then thinking about the exposure you have already had, don’t let it get you down. Be inspired by the fact that you have more knowledge now than you did and that you can change what you use and make more informed choices around plastic use moving forward.

Every brand and product listed here was researched and purchased in full by me. Nothing is gifted or partnered with, just my real review and recommendations.

AK xx


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