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surlygirl's avatar

What are some non-plastic food storage alternatives?

Asked by surlygirl (363points) February 6th, 2008

my fiancee won’t allow plastic containers to be used for food. he read a study linking the leached chemicals to the higher rate of autism in kids today. i know plastics give off bad things, but they’re SO convenient! even the glass pyrex-type dishes have plastic lids. don’t those give off chemicals? i have seen all glass containers made by anchor-hocking, but how do i pack my lunch without them breaking?

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30 Answers

Zaku's avatar

When I was growing up, my lunches were in paper (and plastic) bags and (painted) metal lunch boxes. Pyrex is pretty hard to break. Wood and especially clay (ceramics) are also traditional (older than history) materials for food containers.

jrpowell's avatar

Could you mold some aluminum foil around the bottom, put another piece over the top and then put the lid on the tupperware?

simone54's avatar

You could always be normal and not read silliness about plastic causing autism.

kevbo's avatar

I’ve heard (from a cancer scientist turned medical student), that cooking in the plastic containers (i.e. microwaving) is what causes the leaching, and she was pretty definite in her belief.

jz1220's avatar

REI and other outdoor sports stores sell aluminum food storage containers similar to tupperware. I don’t know how leak-proof they are, though.

surlygirl's avatar

@zaku: i remember those! alas, most lunchboxes started being made of plastic. although that meant, when you were tired of the box you had with one good drop off the schoolbus you were guaranteed a trip to the store for a new one!
@johnpowell: that’s a thought. i might try that tomorrow.
@simone54: i think there’s been multiple studies of the bad chemicals that plastics release. we also don’t have non-stick/coated cookware, because of the chemicals that will get in/on your food. i don’t know that any have been proven to cause a disease, but it has been shown that your body cannot get rid of them. i think that’s kinda scary!
@jz1220: thanks! i’ll look into getting some aluminum containers :)

figbash's avatar

I’m also scared of plastic, so have long considered one of these stainless steel, japanese-style bento lunchboxes. They come in a few different styles:–12

simone54's avatar

WAIT? Who said anything about cooking them?? She said storage and she shouldn’t allow them in the house. Who the hell cooks in them? That’s just common sense.

The non stick cookware is fine as long as you don’t use it like an idiot. i.e. using a metal spatula to scrape the the Teflon off the pan and into your eggs.

gailcalled's avatar

Better safe than sorry, I say. I wouldn’t touch Teflon pans w. a ten-foot spatula. Some good and scary research (Sierra Club, CA Env. Dep, etc.) found at these earlier fluther sites asking similar questions. There are a lot more health issues other than autism.

Bisphenol-A linings of cans

Plastics in water bottles, etc


simone54's avatar

I hate this. We find a problem with everything that works. Plastic is bad, cans are bad, ovens are bad. We could find a problem with everything so let’s relax and stop being a bunch of wimps.

hossman's avatar

Aluminum may have health risks of its own.

gailcalled's avatar

As a wimp who has survived breast cancer, (and the very unpleasant surgeries, chemo, radiation, and meds) I choose to be careful. I see more and more young people who have developed rare diseases and cancers, including brain tumors and ovarian cancer, and porphyria…some of them have not survivied, so I am taking no chances.

@simone54; I have no problems w. my gas oven;, and you are free to eat, drink, cook and use whatever storage containers you choose. Information, I find personally, is power.

simone54's avatar

Christ! I was making a point. I was talking about people in general not you personally. We can do all preventative everything and bad shit is gonna happen if it’s gonna happen.

breedmitch's avatar

@hossman: I’m with you. The jury is still out on aluminum and alzheimers. Best to avoid it. I wrap sandwiches in wax paper like my grandma used to. Plastic wrap is still best for things like covering casseroles. No aluminum foil in my house.
@surlygirl: Crate and Barrel sells little one cup (maybe slightly larger) square glass containers with glass lids. I love mine. One fat rubberband (like those that come on broccoli) and you’re set. I also have some larger round glass containers with a rubber gasket and a hinge-type glass lid (think Grolsch beer bottle) and they are also great. I’ve carried both many places and never broken one.
@simone54: Lots of people re-heat food in plastic, and it’s a bad idea. Kevbo very clearly said microwaving. I dont imagine anyone puts a tupperware bowl on a stove burner.

hossman's avatar

Don’t want to scare you, breedmitch, but plastic wrap may have some problems as well. Wax paper and glass seem to be the best alternatives. And “I don’t imagine anyone puts a tupperware bowl on a stove burner?” You haven’t met one of my former roommates.

simone54's avatar

You also might want to avoid stairways and going outside.

gailcalled's avatar

@simone54: “Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.”
Mark Twain

simone54's avatar

Who’s angry?

hossman's avatar

I avoid stairways and going outside whenever possible. I also prefer to avoid left turns, crooked pictures, asymmetric arrangements of objects and odd numbers. Is there a problem with that? Doesn’t everybody?

hossman's avatar

It’s me, isn’t it?

emilyrose's avatar

i love the pyrex ones and last time i checked there was a sale on amazon. i got my dad a bunch for xmas. he formerly had cancer and uses all kinds of toxic crap in the home. i slowly throw it all out or recycle and give him better stuff. all plastic leaches, whether it is heated up or not. as for teflon, it also off-gasses whenever you cook with it, so stay away. your man is right : )

the metal ones people are talking about are also great. i dont know where you live, but they are very commonly used in India, and the indian specialty stores carry them. If you live in a city I’m sure you can find a specialty indian market and get one there, but go for stainless steel, not aluminum, as that has been linked to Alzheimer’s.

Linnie's avatar

From my readings, as long as a plastic product has a recycle number 1, 2, or 5—it gets the green light. They are free of bisphenol A, and are safe to use for food storage. Thus reusable containers like Gladware, or reusing Coolwhip, or margarine containers, etc., with 1, 2 or 5, are all safe alternatives for food storage. Thus Rubbermaid products (and similar products) with #7 are products I’d avoid. (Altho she claimed their products are safe and FDA approved, this is directly from Rubbermaid representative via email today: Their #7 products are made of “polycarbonate-based plastic resins. Bisphenol A is a building block used to make polycarbonates.”) I stumbled on this site wondering about Tupperware. Mine is so old there is no recycle number. It is hard, but in the garbage they go!

kevbo's avatar

Welcome! Great answer.

surlygirl's avatar

but food should not be reheated in these containers, even with a “good” number. at least, that is my understanding: fine for storage; heating results in leaching chemicals.

emilyrose's avatar

@Linnie…sorry but that’s not actually true. Where did you read it? On a site that sells the stuff? You’re right that bisphenal A is worse, but they all leach toxic chemicals and its best to stay away. Really if you’re concerned, the best thing to do is use glass, ceramic, or stainless steel.

Linnie's avatar

You wanted to know where I got my info. Many places, over time. This one is good: Goes into relative good detail.
When I mentioned food storage, I was referring to containers used to store things in for packed lunches, the frig, etc. I’m always sending the kids back to campus with dinner portions in reusable Gladware containers. I agree that you should not heat food in microwave using plastics (d/t leaching). Some people will go to very healthful extremes, and that is wonderful, and use no plastics whatsoever. But others may not do that and I think it is therefore important to stress what one can do to avoid the more commonly studied chemicals that leach out of plastics (and in that case, #1, #2 and #5 are your safer alternatives). And I hope they are safer, or we are in big trouble since most containered foods the average consumer purchases use these plastics.
BTW, I completed my pantry and cupboard clean-out/throw-out. I was almost pack ratting my plastic Rubbermaid and Tupperware simply d/t their previous expense! How liberating! And so much empty space!

jademyst's avatar

you could try bioplastics, they are food containers that are made out of eco-friendly things like corn, potato, and even sugar cane, and are completly biodegradable!!! Check out this link ( I hope it helps ) You could also try Eatware, non plastic and biodegradable.

emilyrose's avatar

check out “to go ware”

voodoochick6's avatar

Wax paper is made with paraffin, which is made from petroleum – heavy hydrocarbons. Nasty.

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