Planning lots of summer barbecues and picnics? Amazing! But you might want to think twice before picking up the usual plastic plates, cups and cutlery. Some plastics contain chemicals that can get into the food or drinks that touch them. This can be dangerous because products like plastic cutlery, foam cups and take-out containers are often made with plastics that can leach the chemical styrene, which is a hormone disruptor. Disposable dishes may also contain BPAs and phthalates—two other types of hormone disruptors.
So what should you do? Since paper plates aren’t much better—many may actually be composed of anywhere from 20% to 40% coatings, chemicals and fillers—it might be time to break the habit of disposable dishes. Here are a few easy tips:
- Pack food in reusable containers: Forget eating your sandwich on a paper plate at the office—bring a chic glass container or old-school metal lunch tin and dine in style!
- BYO silverware: Snag some low-cost forks, spoons and knives at your local thrift shop and keep ‘em in a baggie in your purse. That way, you’re never forced to use plastic cutlery.
- Skip the coffee cup: Consider bringing your own coffee thermos to your favorite cafe. The baristas will be happy to fill it instead of their to-go cups and your drink will stay hotter in a metal container anyway!
- Replace paper with cloth: Add a special flare to ordinary at-home meals by setting the table with colorful, festive cloth napkins. They’re kinder to the planet and can be easily laundered between uses.