We all love to eat but when it comes to the leftovers, where should we store them? Most options in food storage in the last several decades included plastic containing chemicals problematic to human health. With so many choices for food storage, it can get confusing which are safe and which are not. Most companies claim their products are safe, but are they really? And with so many hormone-disrupting chemicals leaching out of plastic, finding plastic-free food storage is imperative for families. At Mamavation we know this can be stressful but we are ready to help you with solutions and products that can help! You’ve trusted us to bring you themes like eco-friendly alternatives to plastic straws, innovative probiotic products, and the most powerful air purifier on the market, now join us as we explore the harmful effects of plastic and give you seven options on plastic-free food storage.
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Why You Should Avoid Plastic Starting Right Now
You’ve seen it everywhere, “BPA-free”, “recycled plastic”, “non-toxic”, but are those terms enough to protect your health? Not really, unfortunately. Most people are eating food out of plastic containers and unbeknownst to them are also consuming chemicals that have the ability to disrupt hormones. These containers are filled with endocrine disrupting chemicals like BPA, BPS (the evil replacement step-sister of BPA), phthalates and more. Leaching happens when fat, heat or acid is present, so avoiding chemicals in plastic can be very difficult. Honestly, it’s just best to avoid plastic in general if you are looking for the least toxic meal.
Some people try to take that extra step of purchasing recycled plastic and although this is somewhat good for the environment, it’s horrible for your health. Some recycled plastics are so toxic they have been found with heavy metals and fire retardants inside. Finding “virgin plastic” is important if you want to avoid the contaminants of recycled plastic in your food and beverages. So, unfortunately, plastic is plastic and there is no difference in terms of health. You still get exposed to dangerous chemicals.
Here are some of the health effects linked to the chemicals inside plastic:
- Weight gain
- Hyperactivity in children
- Early puberty in girls
- Irregular heart beat
- Degraded sperm and sperm quality
- Lowering vitamin D
- Induces necrosis (death of cells due to injury, disease or lacking blood supply)
- Apoptosis (programmed cell death) of your good cells… we want those!
- Genotoxicity (DNA destruction)
- Induce asthma
Overall, they are a bad idea. Let’s stick with something different!
Indirect Additives Are Undisclosed Chemicals Inside Plastics Getting Into Food
“Indirect additives” are chemicals inside the plastics and food packaging materials surrounding our food and beverages. And they are problematic because they have the ability to get into the food we eat when they leach. Leaching can happen whenever the following conditions are applied: heat, fat or acid. And because heat, fat, and acid are common in terms of food production, they are a constant contaminant. For instance, heat can be applied by adding warm food into plastic containers. Heat can also cause leaching when items in plastic are microwaved. Fat is problematic with foods containing oils or dairy. And acid is present in tomatoes and things like orange juice.
Companies are not legally required to disclose indirect additives inside their products, so you would never know they are there unless you knew about them. We at Mamavation believe that is incredibly burdensome to the public and they should be labeled as an “indirect chemical” in the ingredient panel. This would be a way to help educate the public about the information they are tasked with knowing to protect their health.
Examples of these indirect additives are bisphenols like BPA, phthalates & heavy metals. Bisphenols like BPA or BPS are some of the chemicals found in hard plastics. Think plastic storage like tupperware, mixing bowls, plastic spatulas, etc. This chemical class has been linked to weight gain, hyperactivity in children, early puberty, cardiovascular issues, altered reproductive function, and compromised hormonal health. Phthalates (pronounced “thal-8s”) are another compound found in plastic and can leach out of plastic even when it’s out of direct light. Foods with acidity like tomatoes or oranges cause the most leaching. Tomatoes, juice, lemon, vinegar, and soups contain the highest amounts of phthalates from plastic containers.
Canned food, in general, is problematic. Click here to see which retail stores are doing something about chemicals leaching out of their cans. Most brands had BPA lining their cans, but then after public outcry swapped the linings from BPA to BPS, an even worse chemical. Mamavation has curated some better canned glass food brands for you.
The good news? Most of these chemicals leave your body pretty quickly within days or weeks, so the point is to not put them back inside. And the more persistent chemicals inside can be detoxed easily with infrared sauna use.
7 Food Storage Ideas That Don’t Require Plastic
1. Reusable Beeswax Wraps
Natural beeswax is a great way to store your food and it is super simple to clean up. You can wrap your kids’ sandwiches in here, roll up some turkey meat or wrap their favorite veggies. The beeswax is perfect for kids because they don’t have to haul around a chunky glass container to school with them. For all we care, they can crumple it up and bring it back home!
Check out some beeswax wraps here:
2. Wooden Bowls
Wooden bowls are excellent for storing salads, chopped vegetables, fruit and homemade granola bars. Look for one with a sealable lid. They’re perfect for bringing food to family or community events and they’re more aesthetic than some others!
Try out our favorite wood bowls perfect for Instagram!
3. Sealable Glass Storage Containers
These are the most common type of non-plastic food storage containers. Luckily, you can find them almost anywhere. Costco, Target, Walmart and online stores carry a variety of these glass containers. Even better, they come in all shapes and sizes. You can store dressings, sauces, meat, dips and chopped vegetables without any plastic.
Here are some glass containers, you may like:
4. Mason Jars
Okay, who doesn’t love mason jars? They’re versatile and a great addition to any kitchen. Plus, you can find them cheap at just about any store (including thrift stores, yay reusing!). These jars are perfect for keeping your leftover soup, bone broth, fat bombs and so much more. You can even make up your bulletproof drink in the morning, pour it in here and seal it for your drive to work.
Here are some mason jars we love:
5. Stainless Steel Containers
Just like the glass and wooden containers above, stainless steel is a great option for storing just about anything. There is even a wonderful kids lunch box from Planet Box that is compartmentalized. What’s best about stainless steel containers is that they have non-plastic lids unlike some glass containers.
Here are some good stainless steel containers for food storage:
6. Silicon Storage Pouches
Silicon can be a great option if you have kids (or if you drop things a lot!). They flexible, travel well and can store your leftovers just like glass, stainless steel and wooden containers. The great thing about silicon is that it freezes well and doubles as a mold for homemade chocolate! But one word of caution is we do not suggest you put hot items in a silicone container as a precaution. This is a special recommendation from our friends at the Food Packaging Forum, who we recommend you checking out for questions about indirect additives and their potential affect on your health.
Here are some silicone items you can use for cold storage:
7. Natural Parchment Paper
If you need to wrap something like veggies, a sandwich, fruit or homemade fat bombs, parchment paper (without bleach) is perfect. Just like the beeswax, this is a great one to send your kids to school with. Even better – though – they won’t return with it! Talk about a simple way to store your delicious creations!
Here is some parchment paper:
For more tips and tricks on how to avoid hormone-disrupting chemicals in your kitchen pick up the Kitchen Detox Guide from Simple Holistic.
There are some things you need to add and/or note.
Salts, ethanol (alcohol), radiation (both UV and microwave), and high humidity combined with heat increase the rate of EDC leaching in plastics (source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3222987/).
Most quality beeswax wraps are made with cotton fabric, but some may be made with polyester, which is plastic (often recycled plastic).
It’s VERY HARD to find glass storage containers with glass and silicone lids. You CANNOT find them in just any Target or Walmart (I’ve never been to a Costco, so I can’t speak to them). The default is a BPA-free plastic lid.
Canning jar lids – yes, even the metal ones – have plastic. Once upon a time, the canning lids were made with rubber seals, but today, they’re made with plasticizers.
We often overlook the plethora of plastics in our lives. EVERY form of plastic leaches EDCs – most notably, estrogenic compounds (chemicals that mimic estrogen in the body). Most women, including myself, today suffer from some form of estrogen dominance, a condition where the ratio of estrogen to progesterone is out of whack (you should have 100-300 times as much progesterone as estrogen – I only have 9-15 times as much), and I believe a large percentage of that is due to environmental exposure, most notably, plastic. Ingestion through food is definitely one of the biggest ways we are exposed, and it’s a great place to start eliminating from, but we need to address the rest of the sources, as well.
Nothing scares me more than when I see someone microwaving their lunch in a plastic tupperware container. Ah! It’s like they have no regards for their long-term health.
These containers really need to stop saying they are “microwave safe” because that’s totally BS!
Patricia K Lopez
this was informative, One thing I get concerned is using glass bcs glass can have lead in it 🙁 we should be sure its pyrex or another safe company. Chinese made items usually have lead and/or other horrible chemicals in their products !!!!
How scary if u really think about how we r doing these things to our children and ourselves!!
Leslie | Supermompicks
Hello Leah, This was definitely a good reminder for me. This makes me wonder if 30 years from now having used plastic to microwave in will be uncovered as terrible to the masses, similar to when we announced smoking was awful for health. I have known about canned foods and plastic containers being harmful, but I still have some. 🙁 I do have a lot of glass that we use to microwave leftovers in, but I have never tried the beeswax wrap. Thank you for the reminder and ideas to put on my Christmas list!
I can’t believe people still have a microwave oven in their home.