Through the years I have done lots of research on plastics. Which ones to avoid, which ones to use if you must, etc. At times, though, my memory fails and I ask myself, which number plastic means what? So, listed below, are some resources for helping navigate the plastic jungle.
This guide from CHEC is a great short summary of what plastics to avoid (well, all of them, but at times this is not practical!) and it has great tips for dealing with packages and food storage.
Shopper’s Guide to Plastics and Food
Here is another guide that is worth printing out and putting on your fridge. For sleep deprived parents, the products in RED are the ones to avoid.
Plastic Products at a Glance
And as a rule, it isn’t a good idea, ever, to microwave plastic. The heating causes the chemicals in the plastic to leach into the food. The is helped by the fat in the food, which expedites the process. Click here for more information.
Yikes! Did you know that plastic “cling wrap” is made from PVC (aka: the poison plastic)? Read here for an article about this, and visit here for tons of information about PVC, which is in countless products for children and the home (including many building plumbing and building materials). You can tell a plastic is PVC when it is labeled with the #3. PVC can contain lead, and uses a number of troublesome chemicals called phthalates to make the plastic soft. These phthalates are endocrine disruptors which have been linked to problems in the development of the male reproductive system and the brain development of infants.
Don’t have time to read the links? Here is the quick, tired-I’ve-got-other-things to-do version:
Avoid: Plastics labeled #3, #6, #7
Safer Plastics (notice I didn’t say safe-): #1, #2, #4, #5
Never microwave plastic, limit putting it in the dishwasher
Don’t use plastic cling wrap, or if you do, don’t let it touch your food.
How’s that for boiling it down? Writing this helped me refresh my mind about plastics, and I hope it was of some help to you, too.