Glass vs. Plastic: Who Wins the Food Storage Container Debate?

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If you’re looking for eco-friendly food storage options, is glass really better than plastic? Here is a handy comparison…

Preparing your own food is an important step in eating more sustainably (and more healthily), but when it comes to food storage, you have many options, and some are more eco-friendly than others. Obviously, disposables like plastic wrap or bags and aluminum foil are the most wasteful.

But what about plastic storage containers like Tupperware? If you keep them for a long time and use them over and over, aren’t they as eco-friendly as glass?

Which material produces more waste, and releases more toxins into the environment?

This quick comparison explains which type of container is best for storing food at home – both for your health, and the health of the environment:

Contender #1: Plastic Containers

Plastic containers are undoubtedly convenient — they’re lightweight, easily portable and won’t break if dropped. But plastic is a major environmental issue. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. generated almost 14 million tons of plastic containers and plastic packaging in 2010 alone. An astounding amount of this plastic either can’t be recycled in most municipal recycling programs or just isn’t recycled…

Another big problem with plastic containers is the health risks that have been noted when plastics are heated. Two types of plasticizers, which are substances added to plastic to help stabilize and shape it, are of concern to human health: bisphenol-A (BPA) and phthalates. These substances are believed to be “endocrine disrupters,” which means they mimic human hormones and can cause chronic health risks. These can leach into the food or beverage from the plastic when it’s heated. There is also evidence that some acidic foods can cause leaching without being heated.

Contender #2: Glass Containers

We know that glass can be safely used for hot liquids and hot foods. Potentially harmful chemicals aren’t leaching into our meals when heated in a glass food storage container — or anytime, for that matter.

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Other Benefits:

  • Glass is cleaner than plastic. The nonporous surface of glass doesn’t absorb food and germs (and smells).
  • Glass can be safely washed at high temperatures in your dishwasher.
  • According to the Glass Packaging Institute (GPI), “Glass is 100% recyclable and can be recycled endlessly without loss in quality or purity — something few food and beverage packaging options can claim.”
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The Winner:

I recommend that you err on the side of caution and avoid using plastic containers. If you do decide to go the plastic container route, use them for cold food storage or dry food goods only. You should also get to know your plastics. Look on the bottom of your container to find the resin identification code, the triangle with a number in it, ranging from 1 to 7. This code lets you know what kind of plastic the container is made from. Generally, the safest choices for food use are numbers 1, 2, 4 and 5…

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Read the full article at Earth911.com

 

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