When my kids were babies, I happily used glass bottles to protect them from plastic’s potential dangers. As my children grew older, though, I fell victim to the clutch of plastic’s convenience. Plastics can seem wonderful, for parents especially, because they are durable and easy to clean.
Looking into my kitchen cabinet this week, I felt bothered by the stash of brightly-colored plastic tumblers, partially-chewed sippy cups, and spill-proof plastic snack bowls which had found their way into my home. I found myself wondering, “what are these plastics made of anyway?” Some may have a recycling code on the bottom, but that gives me, the consumer, little insight into their chemical make-up. Which ones are ridden with phthalates, BPA, or even formaldehyde? It is a bit of a mystery. I realized that, when it comes to my family being exposed to potentially harmful products, ignorance is certainly not bliss. I boxed up the offending plastic dishes and replaced them with kid-friendly stainless steel cups and wooden salad bowls (some found at the thrift store), all of which should survive when being dropped by my two-year-old son.
Bisephenol-A (BPA) is the main component of the epoxy linings found in aluminum food and beverage cans. BPA is controversial because it mimics estrogen in the body and has been linked to a number of health problems. It is especially harmful to expectant mothers, infants and small children. Still, companies want you to continue to buy their plastic products and that is why you now see plastics enthusiastically labeled “BPA Free!”. There are so many additives in plastics, though, that the consumer can never be sure of what they are purchasing (companies aren’t required to list them). If you want to be on the safe side, avoid buying plastic products in the first place, even the items advertised as “safe”. If you do still plan on using plastics at mealtime, please don’t heat food in them, put juice in them (it is acidic), and avoid putting them in the dishwasher.
Even when you think you are not buying plastic, you might be doing just that. Some stainless steel mugs and bottles look like anything but plastic. Check to be sure, because they may be lined with a plastic coating. Klean Kanteen sells high-quality unlined stainless steel water bottles, though there are now other companies making similar products. (the above photo is not of Klean Kanteen bottles. I posted the photo because of the great quote)