One of the perfect methods to make sure you’re consuming healthfully is to arrange your personal meals at dwelling. And making ready wholesome meals at dwelling usually means leftovers. Having quite a lot of meals storage containers available ensures that the meals stays recent and doesn’t go to waste. But meals storage containers aren’t all the time product of the healthiest or most sustainable supplies. In truth, a few of them will be downright harmful.
A Brief History of Plastic Food Storage
Most fashionable kitchens are stocked with plastic luggage, wrap, and meals storage containers (together with water bottles). But that wasn’t all the time the case. Before plastic wrap, most individuals would wrap perishable meals in paper. Or typically they’d place them between two plates within the fridge. As for recent vegatables and fruits, they’d retailer them on the counter, in root cellars, or protect and might them in glass jars for prolonged use.
Plastic wrap was first invented in 1908 by Jacques Brandenberger, a Swiss engineer. He later offered the American rights to Dupont who developed moisture-proof cellophane that was helpful for meals preservation. Tupperware and its corresponding “home parties” additionally popularized plastic storage containers within the late 1940s. And within the 1960s, Dow Chemical launched the Ziploc bag to grocery shops, altering the face of college lunches in all places.
But though plastic wrap, luggage, and containers had been lighter, much less breakable, and extra handy, they got here with a worth.
The Dark Side of Plastic
It’s Not Environmentally Sustainable
Plastic meals storage containers and luggage aren’t precisely environmentally pleasant. Most sorts of plastic come from pure gasoline or crude oil, that are nonrenewable assets. Their manufacturing course of additionally requires a considerable amount of vitality and emits over 9 million tons of methane and risky natural compounds (VOCs) into the air every year.
And though plastic is usually recyclable, not all meals storage containers are product of the sorts of plastic that may go into recycling bins. Sadly, the bulk find yourself in landfills or, worse but, the ocean.
According to the EPA, “14.7 million tons of plastic containers and packaging were generated in 2015, approximately 5.5% of MSW [municipal solid waste] generation.” And plastics can take over 400 years to totally break down, changing into smaller items within the course of that additionally find yourself in waterways the place they will harm sea life.
It’s Bad for Your Health
Starting within the 1940s and 50s, plastic meals storage containers had been made with BPA (bisphenol A). Although meals corporations knew it leached into meals, on the time, they weren’t required to show that the chemical publicity was protected. It wasn’t till the 1990s that analysis confirmed how poisonous this compound was to human well being.
Unfortunately, by that point, the harm had already been completed. BPA was discovered to be an endocrine disruptor, contributing to power illnesses and situations like weight problems, kind 2 diabetes, coronary heart illness, bronchial asthma, most cancers, infertility, low sperm depend, liver issues, and ADHD.
As information began popping out concerning the risks of BPA, many producers started phasing this nasty chemical out of their merchandise. At first, that appeared like a very good factor. But then the National Institutes of Health-funded analysis on BPA-free plastics. They discovered that “almost all” commercially obtainable plastics leach artificial estrogens. This was true even when the plastics weren’t uncovered to situations recognized to unlock probably dangerous chemical substances, resembling the warmth of a microwave or common oven, the steam of a dishwasher, or the solar’s ultraviolet rays. According to this NIH-funded analysis, some BPA-free merchandise launched artificial estrogens that had been much more potent than BPA.
At this level, we merely don’t have reliably protected types of plastic to make use of for meals storage. If you might want to use plastic containers, attempt to not retailer extremely acidic meals resembling tomato merchandise in them. And by no means expose them to direct daylight, put them within the dishwasher, or add sizzling meals to them.
Better Alternatives (But Still Not The Best!)
Although these options might not be 100% excellent, they’re nonetheless higher selections for meals storage in comparison with plastic.
A well-liked different to disposable kitchen wraps product of plastic, aluminum, or paper are beeswax wraps. Touted as a sustainable possibility, the wraps are long-lasting, washable and reusable, and even compostable after they put on out.
Essentially a beeswax wrap consists of cotton material coated in beeswax, jojoba oil, and tree resin. You can purchase them pre-made or DIY by following this useful tutorial.
Although beeswax wrap could be a more healthy and extra sustainable meals storage possibility, there are some things to remember. Since standard cotton is sort of all the time grown from genetically engineered seeds, it’s very more likely to be contaminated by the extreme use of herbicides and different pesticides used with GMO crops. If that’s a priority for you, attempt to decide on wraps, or material in the event you’re DIYing, made with natural cotton. Also, since beeswax comes from bees, who’re at present in a world of hassle, search for waxes that come from a sustainable supply (like this one). And in the event you do resolve to make your personal beeswax wraps, be sure the tree resin you buy is meals protected (like this one).
Cotton Produce Bags
Another extra sustainable different to plastic storage and produce luggage are cotton produce luggage. Unlike standard plastic luggage discovered within the produce or bulk meals part, cotton produce luggage have a drawstring closure and flat backside for simpler use. As they’re made of material, the baggage are additionally reusable and washable.
Cotton provides extra breathability than plastic as properly. While this may be good in some conditions, meals can get dried out by the fan within the fridge until saved in a crisper drawer.
Like with the beeswax wraps, nonetheless, probably the most sustainable cotton produce luggage will come from natural and fairtrade cotton. Fairtrade is especially necessary with cotton. Buying fairtrade ensures the crop helps the area people and wasn’t sourced from little one labor.
Since silicone continues to be produced from plastics derived from fossil fuels, and can’t be recycled curbside, it’s not one of the crucial sustainable meals storage choices. But general, it’s a better option than common plastic. Silicone is usually considered protected by most specialists, and it appears to last more, too.
Silicone has not been proven to react with meals or drinks or to launch any poisonous fumes when heated. However, I can’t suggest heating silicone since we’re unsure if it may nonetheless leach chemical substances into meals. And heating may degrade glues and binders which may be needed when used as a sealing agent.
Silicone works very properly as a lining proper on the level of seal in glass and stainless-steel meals storage containers. If you do select to make use of silicone containers, be sure to use “food-grade.”
The Healthiest & Most Sustainable Food Storage Options
For the most secure meals storage containers, select objects produced from both glass or stainless-steel.
Long accepted as a fabric for meals storage and cookware, glass containers are nonporous, that means they gained’t soak up meals odors or flavors. Containers produced from glass gained’t leach any chemical substances into meals or water since glass is chemically inert. Most sorts of glass are additionally microwave and dishwasher protected.
In phrases of sustainability, glass will get excessive marks because it’s simply recyclable. And it’s product of naturally occurring silica (or sand), sodium carbonate (soda ash), calcium carbonate, and cullet (waste glass).
Most food-grade, glass storage containers additionally work in each excessive warmth and chilly temperatures attributable to tempered glass. However, all the time examine with the producer to make sure containers are protected to freeze. Even freezer-safe glass can crack as meals expands. When utilizing glass within the freezer, go away no less than ¾” of area from the highest.
Although glass works properly for meals storage, it doesn’t seal in addition to another sorts of containers. Canning jars have a greater sealing design however can take no less than an hour or longer, and particular situations, to totally seal. Glass can be breakable, and a comparatively heavy materials, and might not be your best option for journey functions.
When it involves meals storage containers, stainless-steel takes the cake. Some stainless-steel containers are leakproof and hermetic with silicone-sealing, snap-on lids. Unless you could have x-ray imaginative and prescient, you gained’t be capable to see what’s inside them, like you may with glass. But not like glass, stainless-steel gained’t break or crush your backpack on a visit.
You additionally gained’t have to fret about stainless-steel contributing any chemical substances to your meals or water. It’s finest to not retailer something acidic in stainless-steel containers for lengthy intervals of time, although, because the metals might start to leach out.
Stainless metal can be straightforward to scrub and is ready to stand up to each cold and hot temperatures with ease. Unfortunately, stainless-steel will not be microwave protected, however it could go on the range or in a toaster oven (sans lid) and is dishwasher pleasant. Since it’s a long-lasting steel, and extremely proof against corrosion, stainless-steel reduces waste. It does are inclined to price extra, however since high-quality stainless-steel can final for generations, in the long term, it might be the least costly possibility.
Like glass, stainless-steel is recyclable. In truth, most stainless-steel merchandise comprise 60% recycled materials. And though metal manufacturing makes use of numerous vitality, the business’s vitality consumption has truly been declining.
Food Storage Product Suggestions to Help You Get Started
If you’re seeking to commerce in plastic meals storage containers for a safer possibility, try a few of these advisable merchandise.
Pyrex Simply Store Glass Meal Prep Food Container, 10-Piece (Blue)
Even extra so than plastic, glass is see-through, permitting you to see your leftovers and making transitioning from plastic rather a lot simpler. This set of Pyrex glass meals storage containers supplies a more healthy and extra sustainable different to plastic. They come in several sizes — 2-cup, Three-cup, Four-cup, and 6-cup — and shapes (round or rectangular), excellent for storing quite a lot of leftovers. They’re additionally nonporous, dishwasher, microwave, and freezer-safe, and have hermetic, BPA-free lids.
purifyou Premium Glass Water Bottle with Non-Slip Silicone Sleeve and Stainless Steel Lid Insert, 12 / 22 / 32 oz
Purifyou’s glass water bottles are product of extremely heat-resistant glass, making it usable for warm or chilly drinks. It additionally has stainless-steel inside the highest, so plastic by no means is available in contact with the liquid. Plus, with the included silicone sleeve, you don’t have to fret as a lot concerning the glass breaking in the event you drop it.
Stainless Steel Airtight Watertight Food Storage Container – 16 cm / 6.25 in.
This stainless-steel meals storage container can carry over 6 cups of meals, making it a superb alternative for meal prep elements in addition to leftovers. It’s made of top of the range, food-grade stainless-steel and is BPA-free, phthalate-free, PVC-free, and lead-free. Dishwasher, freezer, and oven-safe, the container is hermetic with a silicone seal and stainless-steel latches. (It will not be advisable, nonetheless, to place the lid within the dishwasher as doing so can harm the glue that holds the silicone seal in place).
LifeSky Stainless Steel Water Bottle, Double Wall Vacuum Insulated Leakproof Sports Bottle
Leakproof and double wall vacuum insulated, the LifeSky Stainless Steel Water Bottle retains liquids cool for 24-hours or sizzling for 12-hours. Food-grade stainless-steel gained’t go away you with a metallic style in your mouth. And its wide-mouth high permits for the straightforward addition of ice cubes. Available in Four completely different sizes: 12 oz, 20 oz, 26 oz, and 34 oz.
Beeswax Food Wrap
Choose from quite a lot of sizes meant to maintain fruits, greens, herbs, and ready meals recent. Each wrap lasts a 12 months and is washable. Made from a hemp and natural cotton material infused with natural jojoba oil, beeswax, and tree resin.
Cotton Produce Bags
Organic Cotton Flat-Bottom Bulk Bags
Made from Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) licensed natural cotton, these luggage are nice for bulk meals or produce. Machine washable and compact, you may simply deliver these in your subsequent buying journey to cut back plastic bag utilization.
TRIFECTA LIVING Reusable Silicone Food Storage Bag (5)+ Reusable Ziploc Bags Holder + Scrubber Sponge
A set of two giant, two medium, and one small silicone meals storage luggage. The food-grade silicone is BPA-free, washable, and leakproof. You may throw them within the microwave or freezer and even wash them within the dishwasher. With reusable luggage, you’ll lower your expenses and reduce down on single-use plastic waste.
One Last Thought About Food Storage Containers
If you may’t afford to purchase new meals storage containers, you may also reuse sustainable meals containers. You can wash your glass pasta jars, sauerkraut containers, and so on. and use them time and again. Reusing is all the time extra sustainable than utilizing disposables, and even recycling.
Tell us within the feedback:
- What do you utilize for meals storage?
- Do you could have any wholesome and sustainable meals storage containers you want?
Featured Image: iStock.com/Svetlana-Cherruty
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