Plastic is not just bad for the environment, it's bad for your health too—especially when it's used to store food and drinks.
Harmful chemicals like bisphenol A (BPA; see last month's Healthy Home feature) and phthalates (see page 72) can leach from plastic containers into the substance inside, and ultimately end up in your body, where they may have hormone-disrupting effects.
Avoiding plastic can be tricky, but choosing plastic-free containers to store your food when you're at home or on the go can help to reduce your exposure to toxic chemicals and save the planet at the same time. Stainless steel, glass, organic cotton and unbleached paper are all good choices—here are our top product picks.
Three-in-One Classic Lunchbox, $35.99
www.ecolunchboxes.com; tel: 925-298-9220
Based on the tiffin carriers or 'dabbas' widely used in South Asia, this handy stainless steel lunchbox with snack pot is a plastic-free way to store your food on the go. Made from food-grade stainless steel, it consists of two stackable containers, a mini tin that fits inside and steel side clasps for secure fastening. Also check out the brand's brilliant range of eco-friendly utensils and other storage containers.
Seal of approval
9.8 fl oz / 290-mL Jar, $6.15
Glass is usually a safe choice for food storage, and this classic German design by Weck is a popular pick for canning. While some canning jars have metal lids that may contain bisphenol A or other potentially harmful chemicals in the lining, Weck lids are made of glass and sealed to the jar with a rubber gasket and two stainless steel clamps. Not just for jams and preserves, the jars are also ideal for storing dry goods like pasta, rice, nuts, seeds and spices. They come in a variety of sizes and are dishwasher, freezer and microwave safe.
Beeswax Food Wrap Variety Pack (3 wraps), $18
www.abeego.com; tel: 855-522-3346
Ditch the disposable plastic wraps and protect your food with these all-natural, reusable wraps instead—designed to be good for the earth and your food too, keeping it fresher for longer. Made with beeswax, tree resin and organic jojoba oil infused into a hemp and organic cotton cloth, the wraps come in a range of sizes and are washable, compostable and said to last for a year or longer.
In the bag
Standard bag, $19
Created by a greenhouse owner to keep produce fresh for market, Vegibags are a safe and sustainable way to store your veggies in the fridge. Meant to be used damp, the 100 percent organic cotton bags are claimed to keep "moisture-loving vegetables moist and crisp in a breathable but high humidity environment." The bags come in standard, large and extra-large sizes and can be machine washed and dried.
If You Care
Paper Snack & Sandwich Bags (48 bags), $4.99
Swap your plastic sandwich bags for these traditional paper versions, made from the unbleached pulp of Scandinavian spruce trees and free of any sort of chemical treatment. Compostable and FSC-certified, the greaseproof and microwavable bags are great for transporting sandwiches, nuts and other snacks—and are said to keep bread soft for up to six hours.