This article published by Mother Jones last week was a frightening reminder that we don’t know the whole story about BPA and how the chemicals in plastics affect us. It seems that even so-called “BPA-free” plastics are not safe. And I promise I’m not going all tin-foil hat on you. These allegations are backed up by some pretty significant science.
In fact, a lab called CertiChem ran extensive testing on 18 everyday plastic items from places like Target, Walmart, and Babies R Us, and found that a quarter of the items “came back positive for estrogenic activity. These results mirrored the lab’s findings in its broader National Institutes of Health-funded research on BPA-free plastics.”
“CertiChem and its founder, George Bittner, who is also a professor of neurobiology at the University of Texas-Austin, had recently coauthored a paper in the NIH journal Environmental Health Perspectives. It reported that “almost all” commercially available plastics that were tested leached synthetic estrogens—even when they weren’t exposed to conditions known to unlock potentially harmful chemicals, such as the heat of a microwave, the steam of a dishwasher, or the sun’s ultraviolet rays. According to Bittner’s research, some BPA-free products actually released synthetic estrogens that were more potent than BPA.”
This type of hormonal exposure is incredibly dangerous, and I want none of it. And while it’s unclear if we’ll be able to see or pinpoint it’s effects in our lifetime, this statement particularly affected me, and influenced our decision to make some drastic changes in what we use in our home:
“A chemical like BPA reprograms your cells and ends up causing a disease in your grandchild that kills him.”
Fuck. That. Noise. To that I say…
NOT IN MY HOUSE, THANK YOU VERY MUCH!
I fully support LN Smith‘s idea that “every dollar you spend… or don’t spend… is a vote you cast for the world you want.” And the world I want encourages companies to give a shit about the safety of me and my family. But not all of them will, so we’re spending our money on those that do, and trying to avoid shopping with those who don’t.
Here’s some of our favorite plastic-free gear for the kitchen, where minimizing BPA exposure matters most.
1. 4-Ounce Jelly Jars: these are as versatile as they are cute. Just perfect for small batch jams, snacks, salad dressing, spices, pills, or individual portions of almost anything. Also perfect for traveling with. I put lotions, my homemade deodorant, and hair ties/barrettes in these little jars and pop ’em in my travel bag. Easy peasy, and all under the 4oz. TSA maximum for liquids!
2. Half Pint Mason Jars: we use these for canning, but also to store small-batch dry goods like popcorn, seeds, sauces, nuts, etc. They are also great for using as vases to hold flowers, or certain produce items that want to be upright. And a great size for loose craft items too!
3. Quart-Size (32-oz) Wide Mouth Mason Jars: Maybe the most versatile size of our collection, these are awesome for storing large-batch stocks, since they can be frozen. Or we store produce in them, with a small square of damp cloth, in the fridge. (Here’s an awesome guide on storing produce without plastic, for more ideas.) I also like these for keeping leftover dried pasta, rice, quinoa, couscous, etc once the bag is opened. I keep my whipped coconut oil in one of these on my bathroom vanity for body lotion. I use them for storing our homemade almond milk. And, as you know, they’re the perfect size for making/storing my homemade laundry lube.
4. Half Gallon Mason Jars: oh, how I love my big daddies. These are brilliant for storing larger amounts of dried goods that we get in bulk – like flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, washing soda, borax, etc. Also great for brewing large batches of sun tea, or infusing waters.
5a. Flip and Tumble Reusable Produce Bags: these always come in my canvas tote with me to the farmer’s market, so I don’t have to use the plastic bags provided there. These have such a fine mesh they can also be used to pick up dried goods in bulk like rice. Then when I get home, I can transfer them to a jar for long-term storage.
5b. Simple Ecology Organic Cotton Mesh Produce Bags: with a wider-gauge weave, these are sturdy as hell and hold produce like a mean m-fer. Also a staple for our weekly farmer’s market trips.
6. Snaplock Tempered Glasslock Storage Containers: tempered glass means they can go from the freezer to the oven and not crack on you, so these are multi-talented like crazy. We use them mostly for storing leftovers and packing Paul’s lunches for work, but they can also be used to freeze portions of stock or lasagna or whatever you like… ready to be reheated in a snap. And speaking of snaps, the lids are the most secure I’ve tried. They snap on and over the lips of all 4 sides for an air-tight and water-tight seal.
7. Klean Kanteen Stainless Steel Water Bottle: These guys come with us to the gym or out shopping, filled with water. Lightweight, unbreakable, and dishwasher safe… they’re perfect sports bottles.
8. Aquasana 18 Oz. Glass Bottles: We’re hardcore slaves to our SodaStream machine, but the plastic bottles are so no bueno. Since we haven’t found a great option to replace it yet, we’re carbonating the water in their bottles, and immediately transferring it to these sturdy glass bottles. I also like to use these for iced tea, when I brew a big batch.
9. Cuisinart PerfecTemp Stainless Steel Electric Kettle: RIP, Keurig. We barely knew ya. Yup, had the sucker for about 6 months, but decided there’s far too much heat and plastic involved to feel comfortable about it. So, we’re selling it and pulled Paul’s old stainless steel kettle out of retirement. It has variable temperature settings, heats up in seconds; and the kettle is cordless, so once it’s been heated, you can move with it easily.
10. Glass Bottles With Stoppers, 33 3/4 oz: We use these rarely, but they’re lovely for storing larger amounts of carbonated water. Especially if we have company and want a couple carafes on the table.
…and this is just the start.
Sure, the lids on some of those items are plastic, but their contact with what’s stored inside is so minimal, I don’t mind too much. And hey, baby steps right?
Pretty soon, those baby steps are gonna add up to quite a journey. And we feel pretty great about the direction in which we’re headed.