It is hard to imagine a kitchen without something made out of plastic lying around, given how widely they are used.
Plastic and kitchen use go hand in hand. From glasses to bowls to water bottles and containers that store our food, plastic is everywhere.
They play an indisputable role in our kitchens and meals for a number of reasons. The main reason is that plastics help promote hygiene.
Another reason for the prevalence of plastic products in the kitchens is their affordability.
Manufacturing kitchen products made of plastic is cheaper than making the same items with other materials.
Because of this reason, it is easy to find and afford plastic tools and accessories for the kitchen.
Plastic kitchenware definitely has the edge over other types of kitchen utensils and appliances.
However, using plastic in the kitchen is probably not the safest and smartest choice.
Here are some major reasons why plastic is not your friend but a potential foe.
- 1 Why Should You Avoid Plastic?
- 2 For What Purpose Can You Use Plastic?
- 3 What Plastics Are Safe to Use?
- 4 Conclusion
Why Should You Avoid Plastic?
Plastic Products Contain Toxic Compounds
Plastics contain many harmful ingredients that can harm a human body.
One of these toxic elements is BPA (biphenyl-A) that threatens the production and performance of natural hormones in the human body.
This toxic chemical also affects heart, reproductive, and neurological health.
Research also shows that plastics may contribute to life-threatening diseases such as breast cancer, colon cancer, heart diseases, and Alzheimer’s.
The insides of many foods and drink cans are coated with plastics.
The chemicals inside these forms of plastics tend to break down over time.
This, in turn, produces certain compounds that can be lethal to your body.
Owing to this reason, the continuous use of plastic food containers, water bottles, plates, etc. can end up making you sick, especially if you keep them in your kitchen for extended periods.
Other than BPA, some other toxic compounds that plastics may release are PVC, vinyl chloride, dioxins, ethylene, lead, etc.
Plastic Packaging Can Affect the Taste of Food
You’ve probably noticed that food in a plastic container tastes different than if it were stored in any other type of container.
And it is not just the taste, but the food may also smell or look different when you remove it from its plastic packaging.
This is because plastics release harmful chemicals that can affect the quality of your stored food.
Plastic can Affect Human Health
As hinted above, plastics can give rise to many health concerns.
Research shows that exposure to the chemicals released by various forms of plastic can be linked to obesity, reproductive problems, and infertility issues.
According to the latest research published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, the use of a chemical compound – diglycidyl ether – may lead to you storing more of the calories that you consume instead of utilizing them for your energy needs.
America is one of the largest consumers of plastics, and this new research could further explain the link between plastic and the rising levels of obesity in the country.
Plastics are Harmful to Environment
Did you know that approximately 1.1 – 8.8 million tones of plastic waste escapes into the seas and oceans?
This startling number is even higher than the amount of plastic waste that ends up on land.
Plastics contain a wide range of harmful chemicals that can be toxic to our planet.
When you dump chlorinated plastics in the oceans, they release hazardous chemicals that degrade the quality of water.
This impacts water species that may inhale these chemicals and die on the spot.
When the same plastic is dumped in landfills, it contributes to plastic pollution on land.
When the chemicals in plastic start to break down due to the heat of the sun and exposure to UV radiation, these chemicals and particles are carried to different locations by the wind, giving rise to health problems among those affected.
Plastic and Heat may Prove to be a Disastrous Combination
Research shows that heating your food in a plastic container can pose a major threat to your health.
It is believed that when you heat a plastic container in the microwave, the plastic releases various chemicals and additives that melt into your food or drink.
Fatty foods such as meats and cheeses tend to absorb large amounts of these chemicals and additives.
To stay safe from these toxic elements, the best thing to do is avoid using plastic containers or only use microwave-friendly plastic containers.
For What Purpose Can You Use Plastic?
Plastics can be used for a number of reasons in the kitchen.
Some types of plastics are considered safe and are approved for food-contact application.
Here are some popular ways that FDA-approved plastics can be used in your kitchen.
Not all plastics are 100% safe, recyclable, and fit for food storage. They may contain chemicals that can be dangerous to consumers.
Therefore, before you pack your food in a plastic container, make sure that you know the type of plastic you are using.
Basically, the plastic container you use shouldn’t release any chemical when it’s exposed to sunlight and UV radiation.
You should also make sure that you put veggies in a cloth bag before storing them in the fridge.
If you fear that a cloth bag will make your greens slimy and soggy, make sure that you are using the right kind of cloth bag.
Plastic tools are essential for cooking purposes.
Without these tools, mixing ingredients, cutting vegetables, combining different spices, etc. becomes very difficult.
However, you can find spoons, forks, and other kitchen appliances in different materials – you don’t have to purchase plastic kitchenware.
For example, you can get these kitchen tools in wood, ceramic, or metal.
Another way to incorporate plastic into your kitchen use is through food wrap or Saran wrap.
Food plastic wrap is a thin cling film of plastic that is used to seal and secure food items to keep them fresh and clean.
These plastic wraps can also be used to cover containers that don’t have a lid.
They may also be used to pack raw fruits and vegetables or other uncooked food items.
You can warm your food with the plastic wrap on. However, experts suggest that you poke holes in it to allow for steam ventilation.
Plastic wraps are storage-friendly. In fact, they help protect food when in the freezer. It stops air from entering the food and allows it to stay fresh.
Plastic is also used in the making of a popular kitchen accessory – the humble kitchen apron.
This is a smart way to recycle plastic. Instead of disposing of it, it is better to make an apron out of plastic.
Depending on the type of plastic, the aprons can be strong, sturdy, and waterproof!
What Plastics Are Safe to Use?
Not all plastics are harmful and cause health issues.
In fact, some types of plastic are approved by the FDA – the Food and Drug Administration – and thus, can be safely used in the kitchen.
Here are some popular plastics that do not present any health hazards to consumers.
Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET)
PET is rigid yet lightweight. This type of plastic is popularly used to pack different food items and beverages, thanks to its strong structure.
Some popular items that are made from PET are water bottles, peanut butter jars, and frozen food packaging.
Polypropylene is a reusable plastic that is used to make ice-cream tubs, butter containers, yogurt containers, or any other single-serving tubs.
PP is rust-resistant and doesn’t absorb water.
Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE)
Squeeze bottles for ketchup, mayonnaise, and mustard are often made from low-density polyethylene.
It is approved by the FDA as the plastic is great at resisting harmful chemicals and does not pervade any microorganisms.
High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE)
Similar to LDPE, high-density polyethylene is commonly spotted at markets in the form of juice or milk bottles.
Food items such as cereal boxes are also made from HDPE.
This is a clear plastic that is chemical and moisture resistant.
It is used to make baby bottles, water dispensers, or refillable water containers.
Plastic is a popular material that is commonly used in the making of many kitchen products.
Even though plastic kitchenware is lightweight and affordable, it can have many harmful effects.
However, kitchen appliances and utensils made from high-quality plastics such as PC, HDPE, LDPE, etc. can prove to be safe, health-friendly, and environmentally-sound!