A few other tips:

  • When deciphering plastic triangle codes, know that numbers 1,2,4 and 5 are the safest for food storage.  Stainless steel and glass are always smarter green alternatives, but at the current time, those plastic codes are considered safest among plastics.
  • Avoid numbers 3, 6, and 7. Don’t use these for storage because of their chemical content.
  • Make sure glass or ceramic containers are free of metallic paint.
  • Don’t be fooled by “microwave safe;” this labeling does not guarantee that there’s not leaching of chemicals taking place when placed inside the microwave. It is becoming the general consensus by environmentalists to NOT microwave ANY plastic containers. That’s right. Chemicals are more likely to leach out when plastic is heated.
  • Cover foods with something other than plastic wrap. It is highly recommended that you cover foods in the microwave to prevent splattering with wax paper or another ceramic or glass plate. If you do use plastic wrap, then make sure it doesn’t touch the food. (Since this is next to impossible, you might want to just bypass the plastic wrap being used in the microwave. No need to take the risks.)
  • Avoid putting hot foods in plastic containers. You need to let your leftovers cool off before storing them in plastic because heat will increase the chemical leaching opportunities.
  • Dispose of worn out plastic containers – if their surface is scratched and worn down — this can also cause chemical leaching.
  • Do not wash plastics with harsh chemicals because this can cause more leaching. Even dishwashers pose a hazard; avoid putting your plastics in the heat of the washer and avoid leaching risks.

You might want to reuse some plastics, where practical. The American Chemistry Council has written up a helpful “Deck the Halls With Less Waste: A holiday ‘how-to’ guide for plastic reuse and recycling;

Finally, about those plastic grocery bags. If you’ve accumulated them and don’t know where to take them for recycling, check this website. Keep in mind when dropping off bags that yours are clean and dry, and be sure to remove your receipts!

Another great source for plastics information is The Center for Health, Environment and Justice, based in Falls Church, VA. They have created an extensive list of products, with manufacturers named along with each company’s website listed on every plastic product imaginable – from pacifiers to laptops. This is an extraordinary list of information on where to buy organic and sustainable products in the marketplace; plastic and non-plastic.

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