We know that plastics contain chemicals that are toxic to our environment and unhealthy for our families. Some have been proven to be harmful – BPA and phthalates are potent hormone disruptors that are linked to behavior changes, cancer and reproductive damage. Others are less well understood, but we know chemicals in plastics routinely leach into whatever they touch: food, water, even your baby’s mouth. 

Choose and use safer plastics

  • Avoid toys marked “3” or “PVC”
  • Avoid polycarbonate containers marked #7 or “PC”. These are transparent and rigid plastic, like food storage containers and water bottles
  • Avoid old plastics before 2009 before phthalates were banned
  • Use glass or ceramic when you can. When you use plastic, pick #1, 2, 4, or 5 which don’t have BPA.

Handle plastics wisely

  • Don’t heat them or put anything hot in them. Heat can break down plastics and release more chemical additives. Don’t microwave in them or put hot food or drinks in them. Also, don’t leave plastic water bottles or other plastics in the car. The plastic will become the temperature of the air in the car, even hotter than the water itself. This will make the plastic leach very quickly.
  • If they are scratched or damaged, avoid them. Exposure to chemicals are greater when the surface is worn down.
  • Wash on top rack of dishwasher or by hand.
  • Don’t allow young children to chew on plastic electronics (the remote, your cell phone). They are treated with fire retardants.
  • Wash plastic chemicals from your hands before you eat.
  • Never reuse plastic water bottles or other plastics not designed to be reused. The plastics can break down very quickly after washing in the dishwasher or with any dishwashing liquid.

Consider safer alternatives than plastics 

  • For the Kids. Choose glass baby bottle with silicone nipple. Give natural teethers like frozen washcloths or natural wood. Choose toys of natural materials, wool, cotton and uncoated wood.
  • In the Kitchen. Use ceramic or glass food containers. When using the electric mixer don’t use plastic bowls to avoid chipping bits of plastic into food. Lay natural flooring instead of vinyl. Use wooden or glass cutting boards. Cover food in the microwave with a paper towel instead of a plastic cover or plastic wrap.
  • In the bathroom. Pick a cotton shower curtain instead of vinyl. In the tub, play with cotton washcloths, finger puppets, wooden toy boats and lightweight aluminum cups. Skip the soft plastic bath toys and books.

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