Recycling and reusing plastic food containers is a great way to save money. I know that when I have Chinese food or buy prepackaged meats that come in the containers, I like to wash them and save them for storing leftovers or putting condiments in them such as lettuce and cheese for tacos. However, did you know that reusing some of these plastic food containers can be bad for your health? Before you reuse anything, read what we have to say.
Generally, glass containers are completely safe to reuse, as long as you properly clean them. Plastics, however, are completely different. Usually, they would be safe to use as long as you clean them, but others are full of harmful chemicals, especially if they’re exposed to heat. If you aren’t sure how to figure out if the container in question is safe, just look at the labels.
Number 3 plastics are made with polyvinyl chlorides, which can contain phthalates. This group of chemicals can interfere with your endocrine system. There has also been evidence to suggest that the link between phthalates and allergy & respiratory issues. Heating food in these containers can increase the risk of releasing the phthalates.
Containers that are labeled with this number contain polystyrenes. You can find this label on a lot of takeout containers or plastic plates, bowls and cutlery. This particular chemical contains styrene, which is a suspected carcinogen, according to the EPA. It can damage the gastrointestinal system, kidney and respiratory function. This has been classified as possibly carcinogenic to humans by The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer.
A lot of the plastic food containers you see are marked with a 7. These containers contain polycarbonates, which contain Bisphenol A. The U.S Food and Drug Administration is currently studying closely the chemical due to some concerns about the risks that it can pose to brain health and development and the prostate gland. This risk is even higher in infants and children, which is why the European Union has banned the use of BPA plastics for baby bottles.
Alternatives to Plastic Food Containers
If you are now very uneasy about reusing plastic containers, it may be a wise idea to invest in some Rubbermaid food storage containers. These are extremely durable, freezable, dishwasher safe, microwavable and BPA free containers. You can get them in all different sizes, however, the 42-piece option with the easy find lids are the best bang for your buck. You’ll also feel a lot better knowing that these plastic containers won’t harm you or your family. If you need a bigger selection or just need to stock up, there’s also a 60-piece set available. I have used these for many years and they definitely do hold up to the standards.
Whether or not you choose to use the plastic containers that your food came in is completely up to you. The fact that most of these containers are made with harmful chemicals is exceptionally alarming. I don’t honestly suggest using them, rather, throw them all away or just use them for cold storage if you absolutely have to. If you can, invest in those Rubbermaid food storage containers to ensure that your body is safe from these chemicals.