Monday, January 23, 2012

Plastic-free New Year

Happy New Year!  This year I am looking forward to learning new things about how to live green and sharing these tips with you all.  The good news is, you learn something new every day.  The bad news is, you learn something new every day.

Unfortunately for me, once I learn something about the environment it's extremely difficult to get it out of my head.  This can be a blessing and a curse.  The latest example is that now I have learned more about plastics than I ever cared to know, and now I must incorporate that into my everyday life.  This article breaks down all the numbers in the magic triangles according to their recyclability and what these plastics are made from. Most importantly, though, it tells you that most of it is bad for your health.

Here's the breakdown of it all:

  • 1 is safe unless exposed to heat and then it releases toxins
  • 2, 4, and 5 are safe
  • 3 and 6 are NOT safe
  • 7 is safe as long as it's BPA-free.  

It says the plastic containers should be tossed if:

  • They're old
  • Have been exposed to heat (like the dishwasher or microwave)
  • Have been cleaned with harsh detergents
  • Are scratched or worn

If you have plastic containers:

  • DON'T use in microwave (even if labeled microwave-safe)
  • DON'T use to store foods that are hot, oily, fatty or acidic
  • DON'T reuse the take-out or disposable containers since they are only meant for ONE-time use
  • DON'T wash in dishwasher, and wash by hand instead

So, I went through my cupboards and got rid of it all.  Including many of my water bottles.  It goes against everything I've been taught in the eco-world to toss things, but as long as I'm putting them in recycling it's staying out of the landfill.

From now on, we'll use stainless steel water bottles.  I particularly like the Thermos brand stainless steel for kids lunches since they are shorter and wider and much easier to clean.  For leftovers I'll use glass or ceramic containers and will use any BPA-free plastic containers to store dried goods like Goldfish crackers or cookies.

Whatever I can do to keep the kids away from toxins or carcinogens and at the same time keep our environment a little greener, I'm all for it.  I toyed with the idea of going completely plastic-free but it's close to impossible in this society.  Packaging alone contains so much plastic that I wouldn't be able to buy practically anything from the grocery store, toy store, or even clothing store.

I'll start with baby steps, in the kitchen first and see where that takes me.

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