People concerned about bisphenol A, a chemical used to make certain plastics, want alternatives to plastics for storing food. BPA can leech into foods. U.S. Food and Drug Administration studies suggest it may affect brain and gland function in children and babies. Certain plastics like vinyl contain phthalates that can also disturb glands. In addition, a 2010 study published in "Environmental Health Perspectives" found most plastics release a chemical that mimics estrogen. (See References 1 to 3.)
Use glass containers such as canning jars to store a variety of food items. The canning jars have a tight seal, so food is not exposed to air. The jars can go in the refrigerator or on the shelf in the pantry. The lids of some jars are lined with a type of plastic. If that is a concern for you, look for jars with glass lids that seal with a band of rubber and a metal clip. Some glass containers feature a glass lid that simply rests on top of the bottom portion. Use those containers for short-term storage.
Choose recycled and recyclable aluminum foil for wrapping foods like sandwiches and loaves of bread. Use aluminum foil to cover bowls of food in the refrigerator. You can also use the foil to cover foods in the oven to prevent overbrowning. Foil does not leech into the foods it touches. When you are finished, place the foil in the recycling bin. To prolong the use of aluminum foil, wash it in soapy, hot water and let it dry so that you can reuse it.
Stainless Steel Containers
Stainless steel containers work as good alternatives to plastic water bottles or plastic lunch boxes. Use them to store foods in the refrigerator or to store dry goods such as grains in the pantry. Steel does not react with foods or leech into foods stored inside the container. Some stainless steel containers such as water bottles still come with plastic lids, so it is difficult to eliminate the plastic entirely. Others, such as lunch boxes, feature metal clamps to hold the box closed.
Cloth bags serve as an alternative to plastic bags in the kitchen. Cloth bags can hold bulk dry good items, such as rice and grains. Use the bags in place of plastic grocery bags when you bring food home from the store. If you find a cloth bag lined with linseed oil or beeswax, you can use it to store foods for lunch, such as a sandwich or some cookies. The beeswax or oil prevents air from getting into the bag, keeping food fresher. (See Reference 4.)
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Bisphenol A (BPA): Use in Food Contact Application
- Environmental Health Perspectives: Most Plastic Products Release Estrogenic Chemicals: A Potential Health Problem That Can Be Solved
- Environmental Working Group: Phthalates
- Moscow Food Co-op Earth Mother: Old-Fashioned Oilcloth
- Hemera Technologies/Photos.com/Getty Images