Why Choose Glass Over Plastic?Dec 09, 2017
by Angela Cummings and Sophia Ruan Gushée
As you detox your home, it’s important to understand what materials to avoid, but almost more important to know what materials to choose! Glass is one of the materials consistently preferred over plastic for two big reasons: it’s better for people and for the environment.
In 2013, 299 million tons of plastics were produced(1). That number increases each year. Plastic water bottles alone increased by 39.8 billion within 14 years, with sales in 1996 being 2.8 billion and sales in 2010 being 42.6 billion(2).
Why not plastics?
Plastics are made from various chemical formulas, including endocrine disrupting chemicals like bisphenol-A (BPA) and phthalates. Some of these chemicals, including BPA and phthalates, can affect the brain, hormone system, reproductive system, and may contribute to cancer development(3). Most chemicals have not been thoroughly tested for their health effects. And we know that some of these chemicals can leach into food and beverages, as well as contaminate air, dust, and hands.
Benefits of Glass for People
Glass is often an excellent replacement for plastics. Below are five reasons why choosing glass is better for human health.
1. Chemicals are not leached into food and beverages
Since glass is not made from hormone-disrupting chemicals, like BPA or phthalates, these types of chemicals will not leach from the container into your food and drinks. So using more glass food and beverage containers helps protect the purity of your diet.
2. Heating glass in microwaves is safer than heating plastics
Plastic is more likely to leach chemicals when heated, but glass does not.
3. Glass is safer over time
Plastics leach chemicals even through normal wear and tear, like washing and use. Common behaviors with plastic containers—like dishwashing and microwaving—facilitates more leaching of chemicals.
4. Food stored in glass tastes better
Plastic is a porous material that can hold tastes of food or products that have been stored in the container previously. Glass is a non-porous material that does not hold tastes from previously stored items which may increase the “good taste” of healthy food.
5. Glass consumers can save money
By switching to a reusable water bottle, the Earth Day Network estimates that you could theoretically save $17,290 in your lifetime, assuming an average life expectancy of 80 years old.(8)
Benefits of Glass for the Environment
Using glass can also help the environment. Below are three ways in which choosing glass over plastics helps Mother Nature.
1. Glass consumers buy fewer items
Historically, people who buy glass purchase fewer new pieces of glass containers compared to those who buy plastic containers. “Prior to 1935, beverages were sold in glass refillable containers. Bottles were washed and refilled as many as 20-50 times, and when they became too scuffed up for use, they were recycled. Glass refillables are still popular throughout the world, but are rare in the United States today,” according to a report issued by the Container Recycling Institute in 2013(4).
2. Increased recycling from consumers
Glass is recycled more often than plastic. According to a report from the Container Recycling Institute, plastic bottles were recycled at an average rate of 29% while glass bottles were recycled at an average rate of 37% (5).
3. Less toxic emissions are created
“Producing a 16-ounce PET bottle generates more than 100 times the toxic emissions to air and water than making the same bottle out of glass,” according to the book A to Z of D-Toxing (6).
Six opportunities to choose glass household products
The glass products listed below are easy to find, as they are widely available at major retail stores across the nation.
- Water bottles. Water bottles made from plastic come in two types: disposal and refillable. In either case, glass water bottles are better for both people and the environment. Some glass water bottles come with a protective silicone sleeve that helps protect the glass if dropped or knocked over.
- Coffee makers. Conventional coffee makers are made of plastic that heats when the coffee is made. A glass alternative, French press, is widely available. Ones with a ceramic drip should be safe too.
- Storage containers. Glass storage containers are a good alternative to plastic. These are great for food and drinks. Some glass containers have plastic lids and others have glass lids for an all-glass product. Silicone lids, which feel like plastic, are practical options. If you have containers with plastic lids, not allowing the food/drinks to fill up to the top (to minimize contact with plastics) is a great option. Mason jars are helpful in storing small trinkets, food or beverages.
- Food packaging. Beverages and foods—such as juices, spaghetti sauce, and olive oil—often come in plastic packaging. When possible, choose glass packaging (and, sometimes, paper packaging) to avoid chemicals from plastics that can leach into food.
- Drinking cups. Glass, rather than plastic, beverage containers will help protect you and the environment. Mason jars can be used for drinking, and they add fun for special casual occasions. Be aware that lead crystal wine glasses may leach lead into wine, which may have health effects.(7)
- Ovenproof glass dishes. Cooking bakery in the oven and roasting vegetables can be done on ovenproof glass dishes. Most glass dishes are not for cooking on the stovetop.(7) Be sure to read manufacturer instructions to understand how each product can be used before cooking with it.
Glass alternatives are available for items found throughout the home. Kitchen items such as those listed above are among the most widely available glass products, making it easy to purchase them. Choose one or two products to replace with glass variations. Whether you start by replacing water bottles, storage containers or dishware you will be benefiting people and the environment. You can’t go wrong with that!
(2) (4) (5) Container Recycling
(8) "Money in a Bottle" by Earth Day Network
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