Plastic containers were once considered as the most efficient way to store food items. They are found in almost all kitchens as they are durable, airtight and very convenient to use. But, plastic is neither good for humans nor for our planet. They are not 100 percent biodegradable and can only be downcycled or recycled to another form.
Numerous studies have shown that plastic containers leach chemicals into the stored food and drinks, which can lead to deadly diseases. Plastics contain chemicals such as Bisphenol A (BPA) and Bisphenol S (BPS), which are known to have hormone-mimicking, estrogenic effects.1 BPA has also been linked to life-threatening diseases like breast cancer tumors.2
Owing to pressure from consumers, plastic containers are being manufactured without BPA, only to be replaced with BPS, which may be even more harmful. Research has shown that BPS is found in over 80 percent of blood tested and that it has the potential to cause diabetes, obesity, asthma, birth defects and even cancer.3 4
With such potentially dangerous effects of plastic containers, it’s high time we switched to safer alternatives like the ones mentioned here.
Glass is 100 percent biodegradable and is made from silica. Canning jars and storage containers made of glass are great for keeping your foods fresh. Most importantly, they don’t contain any chemicals that drain into your food items. They can be washed and safely used repeatedly.
As they are available in a variety of sizes and shapes, they are best to store different types of foods and drinks. Since most of them also have lids, they can be used as air-tight containers. Glass containers are economical and can even be washed in the dishwasher. Just make sure to handle them carefully without breaking them!
Foods To Store: Dried herbs, legumes, spices, leaf teas, rice, pickles, and jams.
Silicone containers are being considered as a safer substitute for plastics. These containers are flexible, are available in a multitude of colors, and many are oven-safe. In fact, silicone containers are currently quite popular as bakeware and as kitchen utensils.
Silicone is FDA-approved as a food-safe substance. It is inert, doesn’t react with food or liquids, and most importantly, does not leach toxic chemicals into the foods. Also, it can withstand high temperatures. Here’s a tip: For the sake of quality, make sure to buy food-grade silicone containers.
Foods To Store: Salads, vegetables, fruits, chocolates, legumes, and dry fruits.
3. Cloth Food Sacks
Reusable cloth food sacks and sandwich wraps allow you to make a worthy and sound contribution towards creating a cleaner and greener environment. They are non-toxic and safe for your children and the environment. Made out of fabric material, they are colorful, attractive, safe to use, and can be reused over time.
They are ideal for storing sandwiches and other dry foods, making them perfect to carry anywhere. If you have the time and patience, you can even make one at home. Although they appear like disposable plastic bags, cloth food sacks are made from washable fabrics, which can be reused.
Foods To Store: Sandwiches, cookies, legumes, and wafers.
4. Stainless Steel
Stainless steel is probably the best alternative to plastic out there. It’s not only perfect for cooking and extremely durable but also ideal for all your storing needs. Also, they are extremely safe, since they don’t leach any harmful chemicals into the food.
Although they may not be as stylish as glass containers, they are indestructible and are ideal for people with butter fingers. Even years of scrubbing will not damage the container as it is very long-lasting. Their only drawback is that they are not microwave-compatible.
Foods To Store: Vegetables, fruits, gravy, toppings, and most solid and semi-solid foods.
Porcelain is a ceramic material that originated in China and has been used to serve beverages for centuries. Porcelain containers and cookware such as jars, plates, and saucers are ideal for storing or serving different types of food without the fear of any harmful chemicals contaminating the food.
They are available in a plethora of designs and are often decorated with intricate artwork almost making them collectibles. As they are non-stick, cleaning is very easy and wiping them with a wet cloth will make them squeaky clean. Many porcelain containers often come with glass lids, which keeps foods fresh for a longer time.
Foods To Store: Pickles, jams, spice mixes, chopped fruits and vegetables, and salads.
|↑1||Yang, Chun Z., Stuart I. Yaniger, V. Craig Jordan, Daniel J. Klein, and George D. Bittner. “Most plastic products release estrogenic chemicals: a potential health problem that can be solved.” Environmental Health Perspectives 119, no. 7 (2011): 989.|
|↑2||Bhan, Arunoday, Imran Hussain, Khairul I. Ansari, Samara AM Bobzean, Linda I. Perrotti, and Subhrangsu S. Mandal. “Bisphenol-A and diethylstilbestrol exposure induces the expression of breast cancer associated long noncoding RNA HOTAIR in vitro and in vivo.” The Journal of steroid biochemistry and molecular biology 141 (2014): 160-170.|
|↑3||Ji, Kyunghee, Seongjin Hong, Younglim Kho, and Kyungho Choi. “Effects of bisphenol S exposure on endocrine functions and reproduction of zebrafish.” Environmental science & technology 47, no. 15 (2013): 8793-8800.|
|↑4||Kinch, Cassandra D., Kingsley Ibhazehiebo, Joo-Hyun Jeong, Hamid R. Habibi, and Deborah M. Kurrasch. “Low-dose exposure to bisphenol A and replacement bisphenol S induces precocious hypothalamic neurogenesis in embryonic zebrafish.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 112, no. 5 (2015): 1475-1480.|