By now you know we want to ditch the plastic……not only is it terrible for the environment (8 million metric tonnes of plastic is dumped into our oceans every year), and studies have found that certain chemicals in plastic can leach out and into the food we eat/drink, particularly when heated. Some of these chemicals have been linked to health problems such as metabolic disorders (including obesity) and reduced fertility.
Alternatives to plastic are things like glass, wood, stainless steel and rubber. These have been used for decades and have been tested at length, which is why they have been staples of eco living. Silicone is newer to the scene and has proved increasingly popular with kids’ dinnerware due to its durability and as long as it’s not heated excessively it seems to be non toxic.
Let’s go further into each..
Wood or bamboo. A great choice, 100% biodegradable, environmentally friendly, non-toxic, but make sure the varnish is food grade and ensure you choose melamine free bamboo. What is melamine? In some bamboo dishes, melamine is used as a binder to hold the bamboo together. Exposure to melamine can negatively impact brain development and even reproductive functions.
Stainless Steel. Inert, safe, fine for throwing on the floor! I love the stainless steel plates with a removable silicone suction rings, so you can have it firm on the table AND remove it for washing in the dishwasher! Stainless steel is my preferred drink bottle and lunchbox option for kids and adults alike. Incredibly durable and lasts YEARS, verses the plastic bottles that look tired and worn after a term. I also love stainless steel for kids drinking cups!
Silicone. Based on my research, food grade silicone used outside the body for food contact is chemically inert, stable, won’t leach into food, or off-gas. While not a “100% natural” material like rubber, food-grade silicone is a non-toxic polymer mostly made from silica (sand). Be sure to choose dishes made from 100% food grade silicone, as fillers can compromise the quality and durability of silicone. Food grade silicone is safe and will not react with other materials or release hazardous compounds when heated, there are some studies that question how stable silicone is when exposed to extreme heat however. These studies have found that small amounts of certain compounds called siloxanes can leach from silicone when it is exposed to both fat and temperatures over 300F. While the amount of siloxanes leaching is very small, these compounds have been linked to reproductive impairment, liver changes, and some may be even be endocrine disrupting. My advice, stick to low heat if heating at all.
Now silicone is not biodegradable, BUT it can be recycled after a lifetime of use. Munch Cupboard has a brilliant Silicone Send Back program here
Glass. Not realistic for drinking cups for young kids, but it is my preference for bottles for babies. I also prefer a rubber teat for baby bottles if you can.
My brand recommendations:
Bowl and cutlery Brands:
Avanchy ~ from Little and Loved
Mushie – from Little Gatherer
Bumpkins – from Little and Loved
Drink bottles, cups and smoothie cups:
Montiico ~ from All Natural Mums
Baeba from The Mom Store
B.Box ~ from Little and Loved
PlanetBox ~ from LunchBoxInc expensive but have a 5 year warranty
Ever Eco ~ from Oh Natural
Nestling Bento Box ~ The Sleep Store
Haaka Glass Bottle ~ from The Mom Store