It seems like hardly a day goes by without some new report about the health hazards of plastics.
For an informed yet practical approach to reducing the toxic effects of plastic, we consulted two experts who also happen to be parents:
Susan Nagel, a professor of obstetrics, gynecology and women’s health at the University of Missouri, has been researching plastics for more than 10 years. Vincent Cobb is founder of the online store Reusable Bags, which features nonplastic — or at least safer plastic — food-storage products. If you’d like to reduce your family’s exposure to plastics, here are some places Nagel and Cobb recommend you start:
• Food storage and kitchenware. As you can, replace plasticware with glass, porcelain or stainless steel. Until then, just be cautious in how you use plastic storage containers. Don’t put plastic in the microwave, ever. Heat can break down plastic so that it leaches chemicals into food. Try not to put plastic in the dishwasher. If you put it in the dishwasher, use the top rack. Older plasticware tends to leach the most, so replace it first.
• Plastic wrap and bags. There aren’t as many practical alternatives to this one. Try aluminum foil. For microwaving, you can cover foods with paper towels.
• Water bottles. Yes, it’s possible to live without a plastic water bottle. Nalgene, which pioneered the shatterproof sports bottle, is now making BPA-free polycarbonate bottles. “I’d still recommend something else,” Nagel says. “Use stainless steel or glass.”
• Canned foods. Many of the metal cans used for food are lined with a resin that contains BPA. Instead of canned fruits and vegetables, buy fresh or frozen. Instead of canned beans, buy dried. Look for tomatoes in glass jars, or try canning your own.
• Use glass baby bottles if possible. If not, several companies make BPA-free bottles.