While it would be nice if we could afford to replace every single plastic thing we own with safe alternatives (and force at gunpoint the federal government to mandate safe chemicals over toxic ones), the best we can do, at least at my house, is minimize risk. For easy reference, see below. There will be some blank spaces and things I've forgotten, and I plan to add to this list and link it off the front page -- so please offer suggestions in the comments! I'll fill them in later.
(Also: This is a process. I know I'm only a little ways along, and am constantly improving; we do what we can, you know? Try not to let it overwhelm you, and take it one garage sale at a time.)
Part 1 of this series will be Kitchen and Foodstuffs; Part 2, Baby and Child; Part 3, Bathroom and Personal Care; Part 4, Miscellaneous, Other Household Chemicals, and Links. Some things will appear on more than one list.
So here we go: Kitchen and Foodstuffs
Environmental Science & Technology (big site, general, very interesting, with good news too)Great Basic Article with Tips (thanks, arb!)
Alternatives to Plastic
Co-Op America article on Greener Plastics
- Plastic bags: <a href="http://www.greenfeet.com/unbleached-natural-wax-paper-bags.html">wax paper bags</a>, glass food containers
- Tupperware-style containers: glass containers (may be found at Ikea), Ball jars with metal lids, stainless steel tiffin
- Vinyl lunch bag (children's): brown paper bag, cloth bag. Aside from being a particularly bad off-gasser, vinyl is usually coated with a lead-containing powder. Yum.
- Cling wrap: cloth (for microwave especially), wax paper.
Eating and Drinking
- Unbreakable dishes: stainless steel dishes, wooden dishes, bamboo dishes
- Plastic children's utensils: stainless steel, or stainless steel dipped in silicone (Gerber)
- Sippy cups: SIGG bottles
- Plastic water bottles: stainless steel bottle (Klean Kanteen)
- Water filtration: First, check here to find out what's in your municipal water supply (don't forget about in-house contamination from lead and PVC pipes); from there, go here to check out the articles on filtration. I imagine the leaching from a tap-mounted filter would be minimal; however, the polycarbonate Brita/Pur pitchers might leach bisphenol-A. Even the expensive distillers have some plastic parts, but I think as long as you're storing the finished product in glass or ceramic it should be fine.
- Bottled water: 5-gallon jugs are generally polycarbonate, which leaches bisphenol-A. Small bottles leach a variety of things and additionally create tons and tons of landfill waste and create pollution in their manufacture. Cheap and safe answer: filter your tap water with a tap-mounted filter and pour it into a reusable non-plastic water bottle.
- Microwave popcorn: either pop on stove or in brown paper lunch bag in microwave
Making Baby Food
- Ice cube trays: aluminum (may have its own issues, though) or silicone*
- Food mill: stainless steel food mill (though some plastic parts are probably not a concern, as contact with food is minimal and brief)
- Blender: Glass blender (see food mill notes re: plastic parts)
- Defrosting container: ceramic ramekin (microwaveable)
- More baby info, including bottles, to appear in Part 2.
Cooking and Heating
- Nonstick pots and pans: Stainless steel, cast iron, enameled cast iron (check garage sales!)
- Plastic utensils: Stainless steel, wood
- Microwave: Use ceramic dishes only, no plastic
*Technically silicone is a plastic, yes, but it seems to be chemically inert and stable