BPA-free

Thermoses

You know you want to avoid plastic around your hot beverages, so now what? Here are some of our favorite thermoses (they also work for keeping your beverages nice and cold when summer rolls around). 

If you missed the memo on avoiding plastic, check out our post on heated plastic.

Keeping that Coffee Hot! with a Stainless Steel Insulated Thermos

This is the thermos I use and love. If you want to be able to keep your coffee or tea hot (or cold), this thermos is for you. Since heating plastic increases leaching, the benefits of a stainless steel thermos are especially big. 

The one caveat with this thermos (and sadly most others) is that it has a plastic lid that you sip through. We still recommend it for a few reasons:

  1. Practicality is important
  2. Plastic lids seem to offer more functionality (aka sipping and not spilling on yourself)
  3. Drinking out of a stainless steel thermos in general is a massive step in the health direction

A second option we love: The Yeti Rambler

I don't know about what's going on where you live, but these Yetis have exploded in Charlottesville. There may be some loyalty play there, given one of the founders went to Darden. However, I overheard my fiance saying last night, "Those Yetis are great. I put some cold seltzer in mine and then went for a run and forgot about it for three hours, and it was fantastically cold when I got home." I laughed at him, told him he sounded like an ad, and then asked how he felt about being quoted. 

Heating Up Leftovers, Heating Up Plastic

Following our blogs on water bottles and tupperware, one of our readers suggested we talk about one of his pet peeves - heating up food or drink in plastic. 

I share this pet peeve. Several weeks ago while traveling, I was leaving a restaurant after breakfast, rushing to a meeting. I hadn't finished my tea, and was hoping to take it with me. The host said, no problem, and before I could say anything, poured the hot tea into a plastic cup. 

I thanked him, and grabbed the cup, and yet I knew that now the cup and tea were going to be wasted. Drinking out of plastic is a health compromise I hate to make - especially hot drinks in plastic. 

I admit, there are still a few plastic tupperware in my home and we are still looking for an alternative to our Brita filter, but I have gradually replaced the vast majority of plastic-ware around the house, and try to never eat or drink out of heated plastic in particular.

Heating Plastic

Components in plastic containers can leach into food and drink, and that leaching process is accelerated when the plastic is heated. These leaching components are plasticizers, additives to plastic that help plastic things retain their shape. Two common plasticizers are endocrine disrupters - bisphenols and phthalates1 - a word whose spelling continues to baffle me.

Funny names aside, both of these are known endocrine disrupters, and those are no joke. According to the National Institutes of Health, "Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that may interfere with the body’s endocrine system and produce adverse developmental, reproductive, neurological, and immune effects in both humans and wildlife2."
And they are found in many items we use every day, from plastic bottles to cleaning products to cosmetics to toys to furniture. The existence of these chemicals in every day items - and the fact that so many people don't know these chemicals exist and are influencing their lives - is why Cara's Market exists.

Want us to investigate a household item and the chemicals in it? Curious if one of the products you use has endocrine disruptors or other harmful chemicals? Click the button below to contact us and share a topic.

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Plasticizers leach into food, but this leaching process is accelerated when plastic is heated. In addition, containers that have been microwaved many times or are old, scratched, or cracked may leach more3.

References

Harvard Health Publications, Microwaving food in plastic: Dangerous or not?, http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/microwaving-food-in-plastic-dangerous-or-not
Environmental Working Group. http://www.ewg.org/bpa/

Safe, Healthy Tupperware?

Like waterbottles and water, tupperware holds the food we put into our bodies. And, similarly, tupperware materials can leach into our food1 and from there into our body2, if we aren't careful. The risk with tupperware may actually be greater because we heat up our leftovers in tupperware3. If we are using plastic food containers, this can cause increased leaching into our food.

Cara's Market recommends several alternatives for housing your food. 

My personal favorite is glass tupperware.

Less-ideal attributes include:

  • Heavier than most other options
  • Some reports of exploding tupperware when going between extreme heat

Benefits include:

  • No risk of leaching and no linings, phthalate free
  • Easy to clean and dishwasher-safe
  • Microwavable

Despite the cons, this is the option I prefer for my home - it gives me the most peace of mind. Below are some options if you are interested in glass tupperware. Otherwise, there are other additional tupperware solutions below.

Stainless Steel Tupperware

Less-ideal attributes:

  • Can't be microwaved or easily re-heated

Benefits:

  • Lighter than glass, good for lunchboxes and the road
  • No BPA/BPS, no lining, phthalate free

 

    Not all tupperware is created equal for your health

    Silicone Tupperware

    Less-ideal attributes:

    • Doesn't maintain shape under higher temperatures

    Benefits include:

    • A lightweight option
    • BPA/BPS and phthalate free
    • Should not leach chemicals into food

    References

    Harvard Health Publications, Microwaving food in plastic: Dangerous or not?, http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/microwaving-food-in-plastic-dangerous-or-not
    Environmental Working Group. http://www.ewg.org/bpa/
    Harvard Health Publications, Microwaving food in plastic: Dangerous or not?

    Water Bottles: Does BPA Free Matter?

    I don't know about you, but it breaks my heart a little bit to drink out of disposable water bottles. I worry about drinking out of plastic. I worry about the impact of all those plastic water bottles in landfills, which can take 400 to 1,000 years to decompose. And I feel duped about the water quality.

    In fact, tap water is more heavily regulated than bottled water in the US. The EPA regulates public water, and requires multiple tests per day for bacteria and makes the results publicly available. THE FDA regulates bottled water but only requires weekly tests, whose results are not made public. 1

    And, 24% of bottled water sold in the US is purified municipal water, according to Ban the Bottle. And, even though it's purified tap water, it costs 1,000 times more. 2

    Tap water is close to free - filling an average water pitcher for a year (approx 240 gallons) costs about 19 cents a day. Bottled water at the same volume would cost about $4.98 per day, and, for the year, would require 1,818 bottles - much more than the one pitcher. And that all assumes each bottle costs only $1. 3

    Then, let's say you go for a water bottle. You've probably heard of BPA, so you think you want to avoid it, but you don't know much about it. What's worth considering when buying a water bottle?

    Here's some things to think about. If you already know about BPA, skip to Other plastics.

    BPA. You’ve probably heard of this one. BPA is found in some plastics and resins, often those used in containers that store food and drink, such as canned products and water bottles. The majority of our exposure to BPA comes from food packaging, from which BPA leaches into food and liquids we drink. The reason to avoid BPA is that it is a synthetic estrogen, meaning it can mimic estrogen in the body and thereby disrupt the endocrine system – the system the creates the hormones that regulate reproduction, growth and development, sleep, mood, and metabolism – among other things4. Research has connected BPA exposure to a wide range of health issues, including infertility, breast and reproductive system cancers, obesity, diabetes, early puberty, and behavioral changes in children 5, 6.

    Other plastics. A second challenge here is that now that many companies have moved towards BPA-free, they’ve been substituting other bisphenols, such as BPS, but not necessarily testing the impact of those different chemicals. Sadly, scientific research has now shown that BPS may be just as harmful to your health as BPA 7.

    Our recommendation: Avoid plastic all together, and opt for a food-grade stainless steel or glass container. Since glass can be heavy for carrying in your bag or backpack, we're recommending several stainless steel options. We recommend against aluminum, since aluminum bottles contain a lining, which is usually made of plastic (you'll find that it is very hard to get more information about this from manufacturers).

    Great for the Office and Out and About - Stainless Steel Water Bottle from S'well

    S'well is one of my go-to water bottles. It's food-grade stainless steel, and the bottles come in a wide variety of colors and styles, from simpler single-color styles through wild, personal patterns.

    They also offer insulated options.

    Check out the wide variety here

    Stainless Steel Water Bottle with Sports Cap

    This water bottle has all the benefits of a stainless steel bottle - you can drink pure water from your bottle, and not worry about any leaching from the bottle. 

    However, it's worth keeping in mind that this water bottle has a plastic lid that you sip through. Most water bottles, especially sports-style bottles, have plastic lids for convenience. We recommend against these - and we understand that practicality is essential too! If a sports lid is important to you, you're still going to be winning with a stainless steel container.

    Simple, Clean Glass

    This water bottle is made with borosilicate glass - the same glass used in Pyrex - that is free from BPA, BPS, phthalates, and lead.  And it is also break resistant.

    References

    Burros, Marian. “Fighting the Tide, a Few Restaurants Tilt to Tap Water.” The New York Times [New York City, NY] 30 May 2007: Section F, Page 1.
    Ban the Bottle. http://banthebottle.net
    Environmental Working Group. http://www.ewg.org/bpa/
    Mayo Clinic. http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/bpa/faq-20058331 Scientific American. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/bpa-free-plastic-containers-may-be-just-as-hazardous/