Do you remember the era of Tupperware parties? People were floored by inventor Earl Tupper’s Poly-T products that infiltrated people’s homes where small groups were given product demonstrations and could place orders following the party. It was the type of plastic no one knew they needed. Durable, air-tight, and without the smell of plastic many had despised in products past, Tupperware became the go-to storage containers. But things have changed.
While efficiency makes our ears perk up, the constant health concerns associated with many products in today’s society have us searching for healthier alternatives. More and more research has proven that plastic leaches chemicals into our foods and drinks, which can wreak havoc on our health.
A common plastic used in Tupperware and other plastic storage containers is Bisphenol A (BPA). It’s also used in epoxy resins, often found in the lining of aluminum cans, metal lids, and in the resin of some forms of shiny paper. BPA is a known endocrine disrupting chemical, and because BPA leaches from these products and makes its way into the human body, serious concern has been raised about avoiding it at all costs.
Approximately 1,000 animal studies have been conducted on BPA, with the majority finding a link between this plastic and a variety of health problems including increased risk of cancers, cardiovascular problems, impaired brain development, infertility and more. A study conducted on humans in 2010 found that adults who had the highest amounts of BPA in their urine were more than twice as likely than those with the lowest levels to contract coronary heart disease (1). And a review of research on BPA published in the journalEnvironmental Health Perspectives, noted that, in both animal models and in women, ovarian toxicity is one of the most consistent and strongest effects discovered (2).
In March of 2010, it was announced that items sold by Tupperware US & CA are BPA free. And many other brands have followed due to the increasing amount of threats associated with it. But just because something is BPA free doesn’t make it the right choice. In fact, many companies have turned to another type of plastic in their storage containers, and it may be even more toxic for you.
Bisphenol S (BPS), is often used in storage containers instead of BPA, but it may be even worse for your health.
Studies show that it’s now found in 81% of blood tested (3), and that it can lead to ailments such as diabetes, obesity, asthma, birth defects and cancer. These companies have essentially found a loophole in the issue of safe plastic by replacing one endocrine disruptor for another.
A study conducted in 2013 by researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch found that, even when BPS was present in minute concentrations, it has the ability to disrupt cellular function (4). Even though the facts are in front of you — the risks exposed — you may still be hesitant to throw out your plastic containers out of bewilderment as to how they can make their way into your system and affect you. But it happens much easier than you may think.
BPA and BPS make their way into the body primarily through diet. While there are many ways they can come in contact with you,including through air, dust and water, it is their ability to leach into the foods and drinks being stored in these containers that is the biggest problem.
For example, they leach into Tupperware, engulfing the foods and drinks being stored, which you then consume. There have been many recommendations claiming that the older your plastic container is, the worse off it is for you, but it’s more than just that. It’s how you use them, too. Let’s say you put hot soup in a Tupperware container. The warmer the temperature, the easier it is to essentially allow the chemicals in the plastic to release into the soup. Research has discovered that, when both new and used polycarbonate drinking bottles (made with BPA) were exposed to boiling hot water, BPA was liberated from them 55 times quicker (5).
Many people are also guilty of placing their Tupperware in the microwave. No matter what a product says about being microwave tolerant, anything plastic should never go into this contraption. Not only do some run the risk of melting in the microwave, but they increase the rate at which the toxic chemicals in them are released, leaving you drinking or eating some very scary stuff.
But it’s not just BPA and BPS that might be releasing from these containers.
It’s becoming more and more apparent that just because Tupperware and other plastic containers try to market themselves as being toxic free, they’re simply beating around the bush that plastic is detrimental to our health.
There have been numerous tests conducted on hundreds of plastic products put through real-life situations, including heating foods in them in the microwave, that have found the presence of estrogenic chemicals (6). In the tests, these chemicals seeped out of 95 percent of the plastic products. Deborah Kurrasch, a lead researcher of a study conducted on the effects of both bisphenol A and S on the brain development of zebrafrish, weighed in on the matter, saying, “A lot of the alternative chemicals have not been adequately tested because they don’t have to be… A compound is considered safe [by the FDA] until proven otherwise.”
While plastic is proving to be a poor form of storage for our health, what about the way it affects our planet?
Along with BPA and BPS posing a variety of health threats, they’re also unkind to the environment as well. And if you’re working on becoming greener for your health and your planet, you’ll want to avoid Tupperware at all costs.
From shampoo bottles to house cleaning containers, yogurt packaging to water bottles, plastic is probably taking up some serious real estate in your home already. Honing in on your food and drink storage containers, you might realize you’re using all plastic. Plastic is made from petroleum, which is a fossil fuel that released toxins and greenhouse gases into the environment, contributing to climate change.
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) estimates that the plastic industry emits 14 percent (7) of the most destructive toxic industrial releases. It can be hard to give up something that is lightweight, cheap and dependable, but there are far better alternatives you should be using instead.
Food storage containers made of glass, metal and/or rubber are your best bet. Weck jars, for instance, are made of all three, are known to seal up well, and function great when put in the refrigerator, pantry or on the go.
Canning jars are another great option. They come in a variety of sizes, seal well, and you won’t have to worry about chemicals leaching, flavors transferring, or discoloration. A big trend is putting salads in these types of jars for life on the go, since the dressing doesn’t have to be stored separately when placed at the bottom, as it keeps from sogging the ingredients. All you have to do is shake the jar when you’re ready to eat, and everything gets evenly mixed up for you to consume right out of the jar.
People are also taking advantage of stainless steel tiffins.