Weekly Wellness: Plastic vs. Glass for Food Storage
COLUMBIA- Recently, my husband and I replaced all of our plastic food storage containers for glass. I wanted to do this for both health reasons and environmental reasons. (And, before you ask, we recycled our old plastic containers). Let’s learn a bit about both plastic and glass.
Do you know about the plastic numbers?
Plastic #01: These are plastics that are commonly found in soda and water bottles, peanut butter jars, etc.
- These plastics can be recycled into fabric, bags, carpets, sleeping bags etc.
- They also have been known to grow bacteria easily.
- Can leach toxic compounds.
Plastic #02: recycle plastic number two 2 food storage containers
- These are plastics that are commonly found in shampoo & juice bottles, milk jugs, etc.
- These plastics can be recycled into plastic lumber, benches, recycling bins etc.
- This plastic is considered safe and has a low-risk of leaching
Plastic #04: These are plastics that are commonly found in grocery bags, bread bags, some food wraps, etc.
- These plastics can be recycled into compost bins, trashcans, plastic lumber, etc.
- These plastics are *considered* to be safe.
- Not all curb-side recycling pick-up these plastics (check with your region)
Plastic #05: These are plastics that are commonly found in yogurt containers, ketchup bottles, medicine bottles, etc.
- These plastics can be recycled into outdoor furniture, bins, bicycle racks, etc.
- These plastics have a higher heat tolerance, and therefore aren’t as prone to chemical leaching.
- #03’s, #06’s, and #07’s should be avoided.
- #01’s should also be avoided if possible, and should be recycled but not reused
- #02’s, #04’s, and #05’s are the friendliest plastics as far as how well they can be recycled.
No plastic should be heated.
Now let’s take a closer look at glass:
- Overall safer than plastic for food storage containers.
- Glass is a non-porous material, meaning bacteria has nowhere to hide.
- You can use glass over and over and is easy to clean.
- Glass can be heated in a microwave or can be home to hot food without the worry of chemical leaching.
- Glass is overall better for the environment (when compared with plastic).
- Glass, once obtained, can be held onto almost indefinitely. No need to throw away containers frequently.
- Glass can be recycled
- Glass is easy to clean because of its non-porous surfaces and can be cleaned in the dishwasher.
- Glass can store frozen-food and be presented on the table.
- There are types of glass that are oven safe.
- Glass doesn’t absorb smells from food.
- Glass is very durable and can last a lifetime in the kitchen (unless dropped.)
- Glass is most-commonly heavier than plastics and can make it harder to travel with.
- Glass can be harder to find a secure lid.
- Glass requires safer handling than plastic since it is more fragile.
- Glass containers are initially more expensive than plastic ones.
In the world of food storage, it appears that the argument for glass containers is a strong one. If you don’t choose to use glass, at the very least, pay attention to the types of plastic you are using and don’t reheat foods in it.