How closely do you pay attention to the triangle and number within the triangle on the bottom of plastic containers?
These labels are used primarily for recycling purposes, but they also tell you what kind of plastic you're dealing with, which is important for your health and wellness.
The numbers will also tell you which ones you need to avoid.
Certified Green Building Professionals, Lisa and Ron Beres, are back on Naturally Savvy to help you get to know (and understand) your plastics.
#1 Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET)
You see this in single-use drinking bottles (bottled water, soda, to-go cups, etc.). If you can, try to avoid these bottled beverages completely. Instead, get a reusable stainless-steel or glass bottle and filter your tap water at home. This is better for you, your wallet and the environment.
#2 High Density Polyethylene (HDPE)
This is used in things like milk bottles, cloudy liquid detergent bottles and shampoo/conditioner bottles.
#3 Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)
This is the worst plastic of all. It's found in meat wraps and cooking oil bottles, as well as in vinyl shower curtains, vinyl flooring and children's toys. Phthalates, which have been shown to have negative health effects, are used in PVC.
#4 Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE)
This is found in things like cling-wrap/plastic wrap, plastic lunch bags and freezer bags.
Commonly used in yogurt cups and ketchup bottles.
Found in disposable coffee cups and containers used for carry-out foods.
This group basically encompasses anything outside the other six plastics. Included in this category is polycarbonate, which contains Bisphenol-A (BPA). BPA is an endocrine disruptor and has been associated with obesity, cardiovascular disease, breast and prostate cancers, and diabetes. It's found in the liners of food cans and in the thermal coating on cash register receipts.
"BPA-free" is also included in this category, but you have to be careful of the differences within the category. If you just see "7-PC" or just the number "7" those are the ones you want to stay away from. But, if it says "7-Other" those plastics may actually be OK.
Which numbers should you try to avoid completely?
Numbers 3, 6 and 7 are considered chlorinated plastics and wreak havoc on your hormonal system.
In fact, a recent study tested more than 455 different types of plastics (from plastic storage containers to plastic bags) and showed that some sort of estrogenic chemical leached from 95 percent of all the plastics tested, including the food wraps and plastic bags.
Even the BPA-free plastics leached chemicals.
So, if at all possible, stick with glass or ceramic containers for food storage and cooking, and stainless steel or glass for drinking containers. If you do use a plastic bottle with #1, it should be single use only. Don't ever reuse a single-use plastic water bottle, or drink from one if it's been compromised by heat or has been frozen.
Listen in as Ron and Lisa share more about the dangers of plastics, as well as some viable options you can use instead.