The best thing to do is to reduce your use of plastic. Look for natural alternatives like textiles, solid wood, bamboo, glass, stainless steel, etc. Also, look for items with less (or no) plastic packaging. If you do buy plastic, opt for products you can recycle or re-purpose (e.g. a yogurt tub can be re-used to store crayons). And, get to know your
plastics – starting with this guide:
The most common plastics have a resin code in a chasing arrow symbol (often found on the bottom of the product).
#1 PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate): AVOID
Common Uses: Soda Bottles, Water Bottles, Cooking Oil Bottles
Concerns: Can leach antimony and phthalates.
(Note: Healthy Child recommends avoiding food/beverage PET usage, but it’s actually an environmentally preferable plastic for other product categories given it’s recyclability and low toxicity.)
#2 HDPE (High Density Polyethylene): SAFER
Common Uses: Milk Jugs, Plastic Bags, Yogurt Cups
#3 PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride, aka Vinyl): AVOID
Common Uses: Condiment Bottles, Cling Wrap, Teething Rings, Toys, Shower Curtains
Concerns: Can leach lead and phthalates among other things. Can also off-gas toxic chemicals.
#4 LDPE (Low Density Polyethylene): SAFER
Common Uses: Produce Bags, Food Storage Containers
#5 PP (Polypropylene): SAFER
Common Uses: Bottle Caps, Storage Containers, Dishware
#6 PS (Polystyrene, aka Styrofoam): AVOID
Common Uses: Meat Trays, Foam Food Containers & Cups
Concerns: Can leach carcinogenic styrene and estrogenic alkylphenols
#7 Other this is a catch-all category which includes:
PC (Polycarbonate): AVOID - can leach Bisphenol-A (BPA). It also includes ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene), SAN (Styrene Acrylonitrile), Acrylic, and Polyamide. These plastics can be a safer option because they are typically very durable and resistant to
high heat resulting in less leaching. Their drawbacks are that they are not typically recyclable and some need additional safety research. New plant-based, biodegradable plastics like PLA (Polylactic Acid) also fall into the #7 category.
Nick Novelli, Novelli PhotoDesign