Getting Rid of Plastic One Step at a Time

Now we’ve written about avoiding plastics in baby care products, teethers, and toys.  Parents left and right are freaking out about all the possible health risks associated with some plastics.  You may be one of them.  I try not to freak out over everything I read, but I have become more aware of the preponderance of plastic in my life.  I even have a kind of hazy goal involving eliminating plastic from my house entirely.  But where do I even start? 

Okay, so purging the house of plastic may sound overwhelming, but there are little things you can do to start replacing it with other materials.  I try to limit my plastic consumption one step at a time.  When I needed new food storage containers, for example, I opted for glass.  (Stay tuned for yet another installment in my plastic saga: Eliminating Plastic Containers.)

I’ve also started figuring out which plastics are “bad” and which ones are okay.  National Geographic’s Green Guide has an article about how to tell the good plastics (numbers 1, 2, 4, 5) from the bad: numbers 3, 6, and 7.  They also have a down-loadable “Smart Shoppers’ Plastic Picks” card available through the above link.

Glad freezer and sandwich bags are phthalate-free
Glad freezer and sandwich bags are phthalate-free

I’ve been using ceramic or glass to microwave foods for a while now.  Freezing and microwaving causes phthalates to leach into foods.  “Microwave Safe” only means the plastic won’t melt–it does not necessarily mean it’s “safe” to eat foods microwaved in them.  Softer plastics such as Ziplock bags are more likely to be phthalate-free than harder plastics, so freezing in bags may be a better choice than freezing in plastic containers.  According to this website, Ziploc regular and freezer bags, Glad sandwich and freezer bags, Hefty OneZip bags, Glad Cling, and Saran Cling Plus are all phthalate-free.

One day I’m sure I’ll have that beautiful, plastic-free house of my dreams.  All of my storage containers will be glass.  All of my furniture will be wooden (yes, I have plastic furniture–it was free!).  And I will hand-carve all of my daughter’s toys out of twigs that have fallen to the ground.  Until that day, though, I will just take it one step at a time. 


  1. Ditching the plastic is hard. I love my IKEA glass storage and Crate &Barrel Glass storage. Everything seems to be wrapped in plastic so it’s hard to avoid.

  2. We cruise yard sales and thrift stores for glass containers, and my local food co-op has an area for reusable jars that are free for the taking. When I see the huge variety of new containers and cups and plates being marketed (mostly cause they match?), I try to visualize all of the resources used to manufacture them, and it’s staggering. We probably have enough glass and ceramic ware already made right now to last for a really long time. Unfortunately, reusing is not so profitable, and manufacturing is.
    I just found your site and got the feed. Thank you.


  3. So has anyone else noticed some plastics that are stamped “compostable” but have no recycling number? What is this stuff? How can it be? And why isn’t it more popular?

  4. Ooo, I’m excited to see your widdled toys of the future ;). The more I read/hear/see about plastic the more aware of it I am. I too would love to go plastic free but it does seem a daunting dream. I’m glad to read this about the plastic bags being phthalate free, I just used one today and was wondering about that. I was also wondering how I would freeze food if I didn’t put it in something plastic.

    Eileen, maybe they are the plastics made from corn. My friend has a plastic water bottle made from corn.

  5. Does anyone have suggestions for kid friendly dishes? I have an almost 8 month old who’ll be starting finger foods soon and I don’t really want to give her a breakable dish to eat off of. I also have to feed her at work and right now I use class containers with lids but again, when she starts feeding herself more I don’t know if giving her a glass container will be a good idea. It’s hard to avoid plastic. Any suggestions? By the way, great site.

  6. Kim, we just use tempered glass custard cups. They’re pretty cheap, easy to find at almost any grocery store, and some even have lids. They don’t break when dropped (at least ours haven’t). We also have an enameled tin plate, which I HOPE is safe. It is new and has a bunny design on it; I’m assuming it’s not painted with lead-based paint or something. I’ve also seen some nice bamboo or wood plates and bowls that would work well for kids, as well as stainless steel ones.

    I know that the Nature Mom blog and Soft Landing often review these kinds of items. Check them out–they’re on our blogroll!

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