Girl Planting seeds

How To Have An Almost Plastic Free Kitchen (Part 1)

Stainless_bottle_shutterstock_451767934With all the buzz about going “plastic-free” I decided to give it a try for The Healthy Home Project. This goes fairly quick and is a great step in detoxing the home by starting with one of the most-used rooms. There are three easy steps to ridding plastic from the kitchen:

1. Get rid of BPA and other polycarbonate plastics. What’s polycarbonate?  It’s clear, hard plastic (that can also be tinted, but still transparent). Think baby bottles, water bottles, disposable party cuttlery. An item marked “BPA-free” doesn’t mean it’s safe! In order to produce polycarbonate plastics without BPA, another chemical has to be substituted in. That “other chemical”, such as BPS, usually looks and acts much like BPA, and is just as toxic, if not more so. According to Environmental Working Group, BPA has been linked to a wide variety of health effects, including infertility, breast and reproductive cancer, obesity, early puberty, diabetes, behavioral changes in kids and resistance to chemo treatments. Thankfully, reducing exposure is something everyone can do. (Also look out for BPA in thermal paper receipts and the linings of food and soda cans).

2. PVC plastics are some of the most toxic around. According to the Healthy Building Network, chlorine is needed to manufacture PVC, and burning this plastic at the end of its life cycle creates carcinogenic dioxin. Some PVC plastics contain phthalates to “soften” the product, making it more pliable. Phthalates are endocrine disruptors, which disturb the body’s hormone system. PVC plastics are labeled with a #3. I was surprised to find a water bottle made of PVC that was given away at a kids birthday party.

3. Say good-bye to any scratched, worn or old plastic. Plastic does break down over time. The older and more worn it is, the greater the chance of toxic chemicals leaching into food.

What to do with all this plastic? Check to see which are recyclable locally. Good Housekeeping has an easy guide to numbered plastics that can also help sort it all out. And just in case there’s still some plastic lurking around, avoid heating it as that’s when more toxins are released. Avoid putting any plastic in a microwave (which isn’t healthy in itself) or dishwasher. Even the top rack gets hot.

With all or most of the plastic gone, there’s more space in the kitchen for healthy alternatives. More on that in the next post! 


Erin S. Ihde is Research/Project Manager at The Deirdre Imus Environmental Health Center at Hackensack University Medical Center.  She specializes in children's environmental health research and education, particularly on eliminating exposures to everyday toxins.  Research concentrations include a pediatric multi-site clinical trial on a non-toxic treatment, and the environmental factors associated with autism and other chronic illnesses.  Ms. Ihde helped establish HackensackUMC’s Integrative Pediatric Oncology Group to research new adjunctive modalities in the integrative treatment of children's cancer, and is a member of the International Society for Complementary Medicine Research.  She enjoys presenting on healthy, green living and greening the home to school groups and adults alike.  Erin Ihde has an MA in Environmental Education from New York University, where she received a fellowship from the Metropolitan Center for Urban Education, and holds a BA in English from the Honors Program at The College of New Jersey.

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