Sophia Ruan Gushee is holding a black plastic food container in one hand and a black electrical cord in the other hand

5 Tips to Detox Black Plastics From Your Diet

diet Dec 09, 2021

While I do my best to avoid plastics whenever it's practical, I still have more plastic in my life than I would prefer. Learning what black plastics are made of, however, has motivated me to try even harder to eat homecooked meals and snacks since many restaurants deliver food in black plastics.

In this blog, you'll learn what black plastics are made of and the health risks they pose. You will also learn practical tips to reduce your exposure to black plastics.

What are black plastics made of?

Black plastics are sometimes made of recycled electrical equipment. 

Yes, recycled electrical equipment.

Think: old computers, laptops, cell phones, speakers, video game consoles, appliances, etc.

Therefore, black plastics can contain toxic chemicals often found in electrical equipment—like hormone-disrupting phthalates, chemical flame retardants, lead, and who knows what else! 🀦🏻‍♀️

This was startling to me because I often receive restaurant meals in black food containers, and I know that chemicals in plastic containers can leach into food and beverages they contain. When plastics are heated (which can happen from hot food), even more chemicals are likely to leach.

There are environmental and health impacts arising from the production and use of plastics in general, but 𝐛π₯𝐚𝐜𝐀 𝐩π₯𝐚𝐬𝐭𝐒𝐜𝐬 𝐩𝐨𝐬𝐞 𝐠𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝐫𝐒𝐬𝐀𝐬 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐑𝐚𝐳𝐚𝐫𝐝𝐬.

—Dr. Andrew Turner, University of Plymouth

Black plastics pose health risks

Please do not assume that someone is regulating the toxic chemicals and heavy metals that affect our diet. Those laws, standards, and oversight don't exist.

 A 2018 University of Plymouth study found toxic chemicals present at up to πŸ‘πŸŽ 𝐭𝐒𝐦𝐞𝐬 𝐭𝐑𝐞 π₯𝐞𝐯𝐞π₯𝐬 𝐜𝐨𝐧𝐬𝐒𝐝𝐞𝐫𝐞𝐝 𝐬𝐚𝐟𝐞 in a full 40 percent of the black plastic toys, thermoses, cocktail stirrers, and utensils tested.

—Beyond Plastics

In addition to these toxic exposures posing risks to humans, they contaminate our ecosystems and can persist on our planet for years, decades, and even centuries for some chemicals (like the PFC family of chemicals).

** This content originally aired in the Instagram Reel below. Follow @ruanliving on Instagram for other great tips

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Ruan Living (@ruanliving)


5 tips to avoid toxic exposures from black plastics

Black plastic containers and utensils are an example of when recycling is arguably helpful to the environment but not to human health. To protect yourself from potentially toxic chemicals and heavy metals that can contaminate your food, consider the five tips below.

  1. Cook at home. Eat more homemade meals and snacks so that you have more influence over what you ingest. Remember that heat facilitates the leaching of chemicals from plastics to your food or beverage.
  2. Store food and drinks in glass or stainless steel containers at homeUse glass to store food and drinks. Stainless steel containers are great options for carrying food and drinks outside the home. These materials tend to be our most nontoxic options.
  3. Bring a stainless steel container to a restaurant for leftoversWhen you know that you'll be eating at a restaurant and you may want to bring leftovers home, bring a stainless steel container for leftovers. This helps you and the environment!
  4. Avoid utensils made of black plastics. Instead, carry reusable stainless steel utensils.
  5. Avoid black plastic in cooking utensils and stirrers. Even small exposures can participate in your biology and small exposures can lead to meaningful effects. Food-grade stainless steel and glass are ideal alternative materials. Bamboo can be fine too but you want to know if adhesives were used to create the bamboo products.

In summary

Black plastics are often made from recycled electrical equipment, which often contains chemical flame retardants, heavy metals, and other toxic chemicals. While even small exposures can be risk, the concentration of these toxic exposures in black plastics can be 30x higher than levels considered safe. Since it's hard to know which plastics are safe, it's best to avoid them when you can.

Start paying attention to how often you notice black plastics, especially regarding your diet. The five tips above will help.

Other resources you may enjoy

Select source

Beyond Plastics:

Stay connected withΒ nontoxic lifestyleΒ news and updates!

Receive our free Ruan Living Nontoxic Cleaning Guide when you join ourΒ email list.
Don't worry, your information will not be shared.

We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.

About Ruan Living

Ruan Living simplifies a nontoxic lifestyle through its Practical Nontoxic Living podcast, free detox workshops, online D-Tox Academy, and transformative 40-Day Home Detox. It aims to help you avoid toxic chemicals, heavy metals, and electromagnetic fields (EMFs) from what you buy, own, and do— without compromising your joy and convenience. Ruan was founded by Sophia Ruan Gushée, author of the bestselling critically acclaimed book A to Z of D-Toxing: The Ultimate Guide to Reducing Your Toxic Exposures and several detox workbooks. A graduate of Brown University and Columbia Business School, Sophia has served on the Brown University School of Public Health Advisory Council and Well+Good Council. A popular nontoxic living speaker, consultant, and teacher, Sophia lives in New York City with her husband and three daughters. Her passion for empowering others to enjoy nontoxic living began with the birth of her first daughter in 2007. Everything she creates is a love letter to her children and for the healthiest, brightest future possible. You can learn more here: Sophia’s Impact.


This article is for informational purposes only. This information is provided “as is” without warranty.

It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. We do not offer medical advice, course of treatment, diagnosis, or any other opinion on your conditions or treatment options. To the extent that this article features the advice of physicians or medical practitioners, the views expressed are the views of the cited expert and do not necessarily represent the views of Ruan Living.

In no event will Sophia Ruan Gushee or Ruan Living be liable for any damages or loss of any kind resulting from the use of this website. Anyone relying upon or making use of the information on this website does so at his or her own risk.

Some of the services and products recommended on this website provide compensation to Sophia Ruan Gushee or Ruan Living. All recommendations are based foremost upon an honest belief that the product, service, or site will benefit our site visitors in some way.  

Detox Your Inbox

Easy tips, podcasts, workshops, updates, and more!


For You

40-Day Home Detox



D-Tox Academy




Ruan Living

Our Mission

Sophia Ruan GushΓ©e

Corporate Wellness

D-Tox Academy





Stay In Touch

[email protected]