My Plastic Rules

As part of Plastic-Free February (a.k.a. Plastic Awareness Month), I thought I would share with you the Plastic Rules I use to help guide my plastic purchases and usage.  Just like Rodale's Plastic-Free Rules, I break these rules plenty often.  These rules are based on what I have read about using plastic safely, and especially about limiting my children's exposure to plastics.  

I don't believe in putting plastic in the dishwasher, but I often do it anyway

My Plastic Rules

1. I only use the "OK plastics" (plastics with no known health issues = numbers 1, 2, 4, 5 ).  
Exceptions: Despite my effort to use OK plastics, non-OK plastics (vinyl window frames, styrofoam meat trays) and unidentifiable plastics (toys and booster seats whose materials will not be disclosed by the manufacturers) continually creep into my life.  Some things (like the vinyl window frames) simply cannot be avoided (we rent).  The rest are subject to the occasional plastic purge, when I make an effort to get rid of all unknown and known-to-be-bad plastics in my house.  Most purged items are toys.

2. I do not buy products (e.g., shower curtain, child's spoon, toy) if I cannot figure out what kind of plastic they are made of.
Exceptions: Sometimes I have to buy a product even though I cannot deduce the plastic because I have no other affordable options.  In retrospect, some of these things (like our space-saver high chair) perhaps we could have done without.

3. I do not microwave plastic.  
Exceptions:  No exceptions!  I have an excellent track record with this one.  I have iffy sentiments about both the microwave and plastic, so I'm pretty good about not putting them together.  I only occasionally catch my husband microwaving plastic.

4. I generally do not store food in plastic.  I never store liquid (soup) or acidic (tomato sauce) in plastic. 
Exceptions:  I have a snack cupboard for my kids that they can access on their own.  The food is in plastic containers.  I have stainless steel containers too, but they are too difficult for my 3-year-old to open on his own.  I also use reusable plastic food baggies to store cheese in the fridge, cookies and other stuff in the freezer, and snacks on the go.

5. I do not put plastic through the dishwasher (high heat degrades plastic).
Exceptions:  We are always putting our plastic through the dishwasher (top rack) because it's so much easier than hand-washing.  Since my husband is the chief dish washer, I cannot really complain about this.  I do try to turn off the heated dry whenever my husband isn't paying attention, to limit the wear and tear on the plastic.  I have been replacing lots of my kids' plastic dishes with stainless steel (hooray! more about this in another post).  But they still use lots of plastic plates and cups.

6. My highest plastic-free priorities:  infant toys, pajamas and other clothing, anything that comes in contact with food, beds, bedding, and bedrooms in general. 
Exceptions: I often settle for OK plastics in these categories.  I still have some plastic teethers, but my kids have preferred nursing to natural and synthetic teethers anyway.  I'm going to toss those plastic teethers right now.  I am proud to say that my children's bed is plastic-free

What are your Plastic Rules?

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  1. All of these plastic free posts are very helpful. I'm proud to say I've replaced my kids plastic dishes with glass dishes (I love them--something about how they are made makes them super hard to break), replaced plastic lunch materials with stainless steel, and replaced plastic food storage containers with glass snapware.
    But, wow, there's so much more to do. I'm glad for what I've done so far, but it feels like just a drop in the bucket.

  2. Yes, it all feels like a drop in the bucket. But always a good idea to focus on food!

  3. It truly is amazing how much plastic is around us. I am just starting on a journey to a reduced plastic life (and getting more of those Made in Chinia labels out of the house) but it's rather difficult sometimes. Thanks for the great post!


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