The Role Of Plastic In My Life

I get a lot of questions about plastics in the context of what I use or don’t use, or what we’re going to use once The Kid comes.

First, an easy list of what I do not use plastic for:

  • food storage (refrigerator, freezer, pantry, packed meals)
  • food cooking/reheating (microwave — not sure anyone uses plastics on the stove or in the oven…)
  • beverage storage

For all of the above, I use either glass or stainless steel.

With very rare exceptions, we do not buy canned food (plastic lining). With very rare exceptions within that, when we buy canned, we buy Eden because their non-tomato-based foods are in BPA-free cans.

I do not drink bottled water unless absolutely necessary. It has been long enough since I drank water from plastic on a regular basis that I can taste the difference now.

How this pertains to The Kid: we’re using glass bottles with silicone nipples for any feedings that are not straight from the source. I cannot find sippy cups that don’t have plastic sippers. (Even the stainless steel cups have plastic tops.) No decision right now on what to do about that. Organic cotton or wooden teething rings.

If we have to go to formula, it’ll be powdered.

If we use a high chair, it’ll have a plastic tray, and that will be OK.

The Big Man and I have ceramic dishes. The Kid, once using dishes, will use ceramic dishes as well, but I think I’ll get some at Goodwill until s/he learns not to throw them. Same with drinking glasses.

We do buy frozen vegetables, which come in plastic. I do not ever buy the “steam-in-the-bag” veggies, and we’ve long since gotten rid of our plastic steam-in-the-microwave thinger.

We do buy a few dairy products which come in plastic, though I don’t eat much dairy these days.

I am less concerned health-wise with dry goods that come in plastics. I still avoid them if possible — preferring beans from the bulk bins instead of pre-portioned plastic bags — but even the bulk bins are plastic.

We have a metal colander and a plastic one, and I use both, depending on what I’m straining and how much of it there is. (The metal one is smaller.)

We use regular silverware, not plasticware, and glass drinking glasses.

Some other kitchen implements have plastic pieces in them — the garlic press has a bit, the hand-juicer is plastic, the Magic Bullet is mostly plastic.  Sure, I would prefer them not to be, but I’m not sure there are other options even available — and when I bought them, I wasn’t really paying attention to plastics. The blender pitcher is glass, which I bought after having multiple plastic ones break several years ago. This one has served me well. The food processor bowl is plastic.

Things that we use that get hot — stirring spoons, ladles, etc. — we use either wood or silicone.

So as far as The Kid goes — it is impossible to go plastic-free with kid stuff. For example, plastic-free car seats do not exist. The plan is to be plastic-free with cooking/feeding items and with anything else that is likely to spend a lot of time in the mouth, including baby toys. (Of course, one needs to be diligent about where wooden toys are from as well, especially if they’re painted.) As more and more research surfaces indicating that BPA-free plastic items still have high levels of estrogenic activity (that’s what makes BPA bad), just having a “BPA-free” label isn’t sufficient for me.

I hope that answers a few questions! If you have more, feel free to ask!

Are you concerned at all about plastics? Do you think the concern is all rubbish? Do you have some concern but the convenience and price tag outweigh your concern? Do you have environmental concerns besides health concerns? (I didn’t even address that one here…)

4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by trisha on 23 June 2011 at 08:39

    I am slowly becoming less dumbfounded about the topic of plastics and I some of that is due to your information now and in the past, so I thank you for that. I was wondering just the other day about the stainless steel bottles with the plastic tops, which I have – along with a nice long, plastic straw coming out of it. Any thoughts there? I am very much against bottled water and after seeing the movie Tapped, the entire industry (as well as the FDA) kind of makes me sick to my stomach. So ziploc bags are a thing of your past? I know you use glass containers, what else do you use?

    • You’re welcome! Glad to be helpful 🙂

      My stainless steel bottles have plastic caps. Klean Kanteen does make steel caps now, and replacing mine is on my to-do list. Aside from the sport top, water doesn’t come into contact with the lids all that much, and it’s not been high on my priority list. I just remove the cap and drink from the bottle; no straw here.

      I read in that article that was linked that the #5 plastics don’t leach. I don’t know much about them, and I’m not sure I trust them any more than any other plastics. Need to learn more. But that is the type of plastic used in most water bottle lids, in sippy cups, etc. That might be what your straw is made from as well.

      I know that they make glass and stainless straws, but in the context of a water bottle, I’m not sure they’re practical, since they don’t bend.

      We do use Ziplock bags on rare occasion, to contain things that are otherwise not containable. For example, we had planned a veggie pot pie as a meal this week, and then we decided to go camping, so we’re not going to need to make it. But we already have the veggies. So some time today, I’m going to make a veggie pot pie to be frozen and cooked later. I’ll put it in a big ol’ Ziplock bag, because I don’t have anything else large enough to hold it and seal. We tried foil once, but it didn’t really get the job done. Otherwise, we don’t use them.

      For food storage, everything we use is glass. We have a sizable Pyrex collection and a good-sized collection of Mason jars. We use both in the pantry, the fridge, and the freezer. It takes a bit of care when they come out of the freezer so we don’t break the lids (which, on the Pyrex, are plastic…), but it’s been fine. (I am usually careful not to fill Pyrex to the very top, so as to avoid prolonged contact with the lids.)

      For drinks, I’ll usually just fill my bottle at the sink. This time of year, I’ll fill it the night before and stick it in the fridge so it’s cold the next day (so it’s not hot by the time I drink it). If I’m drinking at home, I just use a glass. I also recently bought a nice glass pitcher with a lid, as I was wanting to brew a bunch of my red raspberry leaf tea and store it, but our glass pitchers didn’t have lids.

      Does that help?

  2. Posted by trisha on 23 June 2011 at 09:52

    Of course it helps! 🙂 Any information is helpful these days. I bought some mason jars and have been saving any glass jars as i finish the contents. I have noticed that the jars that I bought food in from the grocery store have lids with some plastic inside… at least it looks like plastic to me. Any thoughts on the re-use of those?

    • Mason jars and other glass jars have plastic in the lids. I’m not sure if it’s avoidable. I treat them the same as the Pyrex and just don’t fill them to the tippy top.

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