Weekly Wellness: Plastic vs. Glass for Food Storage

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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.

Plastic Summary:

  • #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:

Safety

  • 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.

Environment

  • 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

Functionality

  • 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.)

Cons

  • 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.

(Source: http://www.andthebee.com/food-storage-containers/)

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