How to Live BPA Free – Plastic Container Tips

Are your plastic food containers BPA free?

I’ve heard about it, you have heard about it…BPA (bisphenol-A) has shown in some tests to be harmful to unborn children and small children alike. So after giving up my 24 water bottles a month and switching to a reusable plastic water bottle a year ago, I have now recycled the 32 oz plastic bottle and opted for a 20 oz steel reusable bottle. I continue to scour the tags and bottoms of all plastic containers for the recycle symbol as well as what number is inside it.

The safest plastic containers are #2, 4 & 5, while #1 and #2 are the best for recycling purposes. You should also avoid resin codes 3, 6, & 7 especially when used around food or storing food.

I have used Glad reusable plastic containers and Tupperware durable plastic containers for many years for storing leftovers. I thought Tupperware would last me the longest; however, after viewing a brief video from WebMD’s Health eHome, I am wholeheartedly reconsidering recycling those older stained and scratched containers.

According to Gregg Renfew, Healthy Child Healthy Home, plastic containers which have permanent stains, scratches or cracks have the greatest risk of releasing harmful chemicals into food, especially when warmed in the microwave. It is best to recycle or reuse these containers for non-food items. It is even better to use glass to store and reheat foods in the microwave and use a paper towel instead of plastic wrap to prevent spills during heating.

This helpful site also strongly recommends, for the health and safety of everyone in the home, buying food products in glass, recyclable paper or chipboard and bags. Yes, even canned food poses threats.

How to Live BPA Free? Do the following to prevent contaminants from entering your food:

  • Take out all your plastic containers, cups & dishes from your cupboards
  • Inspect each one for cuts, scratches, cracks & stains. If any of these are found, either recycle them or reuse them for non-food items like storing office supplies or hair notions in the bathroom.
  • Check the resin or recycle code that is usually found on the bottom of the container. Ensure it is one of the numbers listed above. If no number is found, consider using the container for non-food items or getting rid of it. These plastics could pose hazardous food contamination over time.
  • Consider buying more glass dishware for storing and reheating food, especially in the microwave. There are many good finds at your local thrift store as well.
  • Avoid using plastic wrap at all costs and do not use it when reheating foods in the microwave as it is more likely to release toxins into your food. Instead use recycled paper towels, cloth napkins or waxed paper to cover dishes for reheating in the microwave.

You CAN live BPA free and not be inconvenienced by it. There are new products on the market that are both recyclable as well as healthy for you. Consider products made from corn, which look and feel just like plastic as well as products made from post consumer material.

**News update…there’s more evidence that plastic food containers are leaching harmful hormones into our food…get the rest of the story here.

Additional Resources:

Mayo Clinic article

26 thoughts on “How to Live BPA Free – Plastic Container Tips

  1. Jan

    I recently bought trader joes artesian spring water in a plastic bottle and noticed on the bottom was the triangle with 1 in it which found but on the left is a circle with A in it and I cannot find anywhere here in the U S an explanation for what it means or in NewZealand where it’s bottled. Do you or anyone know what this circled A means?

  2. Alicia R Young

    Personally, Megan, I prefer to use glass storage containers, baking dishes and anything that food touches. Glass is eco-friendly, functional and easily goes from frig to freezer to oven (or microwave oven). If it breaks or cracks, it’s easily recycled too. I still use plastic mixing bowls occasionally, but these don’t go in the microwave where they would have a chance to leak BPA.

  3. Yvonne A

    You mentioned using glass in microwaves. Do some research on what microwave food does to our bodies. If you care enough to get BPA out of your life to avoid toxins, you should also get rid of the microwave. It is just as dangerous. For all you health conscience people out there do research on the dangers of Fluoride in our water supply too.

  4. Kathy

    I discovered another source of BPA contamination that surprised me. Several web-sites list heat-activated paper, the kind used in many cash register receipts. The BPA content could be as much as 3 percent by weight.

  5. Best Drinking Water

    The importance of getting BPA out cannot be overstated. It’s really scary how this stuff is everywhere, in so many products we use in our daily lives. I wasn’t aware of the numbers on containers before, but I’ll be using these tips to make sure I’m steering away from BPA as best I can.

  6. Karen

    I usually stay away from all plastic water bottles because I can taste the plastic in it when it is at room temperature (cold water hides this taste). Recently I bought a BPA free plastic spring water bottle and just tried it but guess what, I still taste the plastic. So I am wondering whether BPA may only be one of the culprits, or, whether BPA free products aren’t using something else just as harmful as a replacement? I have super taste and smelling senses so can always pick up impurities…

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  8. april

    BPA is craziness and I just started selling Princess House products and I am learning about PFOA and Teflon. I’ve got great products for cooking and storage that are safe. Let me know if you’re interested…

  9. Freespirit Writer

    I’ve posted another great article about Tupperware products that are BPA free (or not) on the Green Blog Just About Living Greener. Several readers have asked about these containers, and it looks like Tupperware has finally conceded to the public’s inquiries!

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  11. Alicia Young

    Cathy B – here is an answer for you regarding plastic tops and bottoms – BPA free or not. From my research, BPA can be released to your food when the container is heated such as using it in the microwave, washing it in a dishwasher, etc. So, if you have a container that has a lid that is a #6 or #7 remember to remove it before using it in the microwave and never wash it in the dishwasher. Also, be cautious when placing food in this container, leave room at the top of the container so food is not directly touching the lid.

    If anyone has other sources for these answers, I would love to hear from you!

  12. Cathy B

    OK, I have a ton of Rubbermaid Premier storage containers, the #7 is on the bottom. Their website talks about BPA, but what about the “other” non-BPA toxins released from Polycarbonate (which #7 may contain)??? I want to throw these away now.
    I also have some Rubbermaid containers where the bowl is #5 (which is ok for food), but the lids are #7 (not ok for foods)…
    What about the food containers that are plastic but not labelled with recycling resin codes?
    What about the plastics that have a clock-looking circle (the arrow points to “04” or “09”…what do these mean?

    1. Alicia Young

      Here is some information I gathered from a recycling site located in Colorado, and thanks for the question because I’m sure many of my readers are thinking the same thing.

      Many people are asking about the plastic resin codes that are stamped on the product. These codes don’t always indicate whether the product is recyclable or not. Even those numbers inside the triangle? Well, yes, they are – but the codes were never intended for consumers to use to judge what is recyclable and that is why most recycling organizations and businesses provide examples or lists of what plastic products are and are not acceptable for
      their systems.(Many communities that accept recycling in the US will accept numbers 1-5, but not all.)

      A good example of this is a container that has both a lid and a body. Although both the lid and the container
      may be manufactured from the same plastic resin, the two were created through different manufacturing
      processes. The processes give them different melting points. At the same temperature, one may melt to the
      consistency of tapioca or pudding, while the other is more liquid or viscous. For that reason, the recycler knows
      that the two are not compatible, and may ask you to recycle only the body and to throw the lid away in the trash.

  13. Andy

    Coffee makers are commonly made with hard plastic tanks to hold water, sometimes for hours prior to heating. What type of plastic are these made of and do they leach BPA and other toxins?

    1. Alicia Young

      I never thought of this, Andy. A very good question. However, I wonder if the paper coffee filter doesn’t absorb these toxins, if any, into the glass coffee container? I will investigate this further, thank you for the inquiry!

  14. Alicia Young

    April – Thank you for this great Rubbermaid link – I had to check which rubbermaid containers I had that were BPA free or not.

    I hope the rest of my readers take a look as well. Thanks for your contribution!

  15. Susan

    Hi, if you have damaged Tupperware, cracked chipped or peeling I can get it replaced for you -it has a lifetime warranty :) contact me -I would love to help!

    1. Alicia Young

      This would be fantastic! I took out all my scratched Tupperware and am now using it for other purposes!

  16. Rachel

    I use coffee filters to keep food from splattering in the microwave. Its much cheaper than papertowels.

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