Q&A: More questions about plastics

Okay, this plastic scare has me paranoid now! I know we have nothing to fear, but we are to take good care of our family. SO, my questions are: is it only beverages that we are to worry about or all food? Can I still store my dry goods in Tupperware? What about Ziploc bags or should I find an alternative to those as well? We do not have a microwave so I have actually switched to mainly glass, but I do still store and freeze many leftovers in plastic. Thank you for listening to my questions and providing any clarification that you can.

I received these great questions shortly after posting about getting rid of plastics in our kitchens, which you can read here.

First of all, Cathy, I"m so glad that you mentioned the fact that we have nothing to fear, and yet it’s still a stewardship issue. When discussing these natural living/health/green issues from a Christian worldview, I think it’s very important that we avoid viewing them as the world does.

Yes, it’s important to do whatever we can for the sake of our families health, and in order to carefully and responsibly steward what we have been given! By all means, yes!

But I’ve noticed a trend in much of the healthy living and environmental material that I read, and that is a trend towards fear and sometimes even scare tactics. There is a very popular health website (which shall remain unnamed), that although I actually heartily agree with much of what they say in their articles, I cannot help but notice that when I read too much of their stuff, a sense of fear and panic begins to rise in me. A friend of mine referred to it as a "doom and gloom" approach, and she’s right.

I think that the reason that much of this information scares us is that it makes us feel out of control, and unable to do everything we need to do to "be healthy". It feels overwhelming, and quite frankly, it is a difficult task to revamp our lifestyles enough to be avoiding most of the major risks, dangers and toxins. These changes must be made slowly, little by little. It’s all a matter of baby steps, and we should do what we can, but without allowing the temptation of fear to overtake us.

If we feel out of control, perhaps it is a good feeling, because it will cause us to run to the One who is ultimately in control of everything. God is not surprised by any of the health risks facing our families today. He knew since the beginning of time that our culture would get to the place of making the mess that we have made. He purposefully placed you and I in this place, at this very time, in His wisdom and sovereignty, for purposes beyond our understanding.

As you will often hear me say about making any health or diet related changes, they can really only be done gradually, as much as we are able to, and all the while, our trust and our hope must remain in Him. See, that’s the kicker. It’s not about us making all of the right changes. It’s about in Whom our hope is found- and He is absolutely faithful and trustworthy!

So back to the question at hand… the plastics (my apologies for the very long rabbit trail). My basic answer is do only what you can do, and leave the rest at His feet. Ideally, we want to be removing as many plastics as possible from our kitchens. I would say that is the ultimate goal, as the bottom line is that plastics are simply not the safest option. The encouraging reality is that women up until the last 50 years or so have always functioned in their kitchens without the use of plastic, so it is possible for us, too!

Practically speaking, Cathy, I would say that your current practices with plastic are reasonable. You are using them primarily for dry and cold items, and these are the safest options. Plastics tend to leach more chemicals when used for liquids, and especially anything that is heated, although they do still pose some concerns for other food items as well. Personally, I still have some plastic Tupperware-style containers that often get used for leftovers, though I use the few glass containers I have whenever possible. I still reuse the Ziplocs I currently have for dry items, such as bread, and for storing food in the freezer.

As you are able to, continue to make the switch over to glass more and more. Make sure that when you do use the plastics that you try to allow the foods to cool as much as possible before putting them in. For me, the ultimate goal is to get rid of Ziplocs. They are a #4 plastic, which has not been shown to leach chemicals, so they are a safer option than some other items, but down the road, I want to reduce my dependence on all forms of plastic due to their production process (and the chemical by-products that are created) and the waste they produce (as many places do not yet recycle many types of plastics, Ziploc bags being among them).

There you have it- my long answer to a short question!

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  1. Just wanted to say what a great post! It is very encouraging to hear- just what I need to hear. I find I can get very panicked about things…the way you put it was perfect. Thank you!

    What idea do you have to reduce the use of ziplocs? I use them primarly for things like frozen berries that I pick myself. If I didn’t have ziplocs for that I couldn’t have the fresher, non-sprayed berries all year for so cheap.

    Also, any ideas for freezing liquid-type items not in plastic? The glass containers I have with plastic lids don’t hold liquids well, and canning jars break easily in the freezer (due to the liquids expanding, I had it happen to me).

    Praise God that He is in control!

  2. Nola, you’re welcome. 🙂 At the moment, I am using a mix of plastic and glass jars/containers for liquids like my soup broth. The glass jars seem to work ok if I cool the broth completely in the fridge before pouring it in and freezing it, and if I make sure to leave a good amount of headroom (an inch for smaller jars, two inches for larger jars). I haven’t had any break recently doing it this way.

    As for berries, I do the same thing as you, because we have a berry smoothie almost every day! I also use the large ziplocs for these, and have not yet thought of what I will do this summer. Currently, I just reuse them as much as possible to help reduce the waste. I have considered using yogurt or ice cream tubs for storing them next year, because at least they’re more recyclable, though not really any healthier.

    Does anyone have any ideas for berries?

  3. Thank you so much for this post. I have also been feeling overwhelmed about the whole plastics thing. Sometimes you just can’t do everything and I have to tell myself well at least my husband has a homemade meal even if he is taking it to work in a plastic container. Like you said it’s all about baby steps taking it one thing at a time!!!

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