Pssst Plastic & Melamine – Can We Talk?

I guess it truly doesn’t matter how many times I write or acknowledge in my head that certain every-day actions are not healthy, if it’s convenient and saves me time, I seem to fall into the ‘convenience’ trap. And this is one reason I struggle and dislike plastic so much. After all plastic was created to save us time and money since this material was so much cheaper than glass and more ‘durable’ (doesn’t break as easily). Plastic is a man-made material that has been polluting our bodies since it’s creation because of untested chemicals and regulations, but still we are all addicted to using it. The alternatives are so much more expensive, heavy, and not as durable with breakage, etc.  Right?  So why do we need to break the habits of purchasing and using so much plastic?  We are hurting ourselves….and in some cases killing ourselves with all of these man-made ‘convenience’ based chemicals. I believe that even though you can purchase BPA-free plastic that unless the plastic is cared for properly, chemicals will leach out.  It doesn’t matter who you ask – if you purchase plastic sippy cups, bottles, cups, bowls, plates, colanders, food/liquid containers, ice cube trays, etc., about how to care for a plastic item they will tell you not to put it in the dishwasher or microwave. Why is that?  Because the material of plastic is not strong enough to not ‘breakdown’ in these machines; therefore, chemicals will leach through cracks, scratches, etc. My weakness since becoming a mom is always trying to purchase items that are dishwasher friendly because I love the time the dishwasher saves me and I readily know this about myself.  What are materials that are dishwasher safe and don’t leach? Stainless steel, glass, enamelware, and glassware (Corelle) are good places to start.  So although I’ve been pretty good over the last 2 years of ridding my kitchen of most plastic there are a few items that won’t be coming on my journey into 2011. I finally have enough glass and stainless steel cups that my IKEA plastic tumblers are being retired to the back of my kitchen cupboard. Yes, they are BPA free – but they are beat-up and worn making them very poor candidates for the dishwasher. I will not miss you, although you have served me very well over the years.  All my pans, storage / freezing containers are stainless steel, bake ware is glass, and utensils are stainless steel so I’m almost plastic-free. I also, of course, have stainless steel ice-cube trays and popsicle molds because I’ve always been uncomfortable freezing in plastic.

So what is my message in this article?  Try to not heat food or liquid in plastic or clean plastic in the dishwasher. . . the convenience is great but heating plastic at high temperatures is not healthy for your family. And while we are on this topic, I noticed that Melamine dishware being advertised for babies and young children over the holidays. The same rules go for Melamine as plastic since this synthetic polymer is created with formaldehyde. Although these Melamine dishes can be marketed as ‘BPA-free’ ….I don’t think parents want formaldehyde leaching into their children’s food either as Melamine by itself cannot be consumed.  Follow the rules of using these materials and you’re probably okay. But in a world of tempting convenience I always smile towards the trends that were around before the age of plastic.  It’s taken over 2 years to get to the point where I can retire my plastic kitchenware so don’t feel overwhelmed if this is one of your goals. Little by little….it can be done.

Happy New Year everyone!  I look forward to sharing more ‘greener’ journeys together in 2011. You are welcome to email me questions or post comments to the Mommy Footprint Facebook fan page.


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9 Responses to Pssst Plastic & Melamine – Can We Talk?

  1. Holly January 2, 2011 at 8:56 am #

    Congratulations on your plastic-free kitchen! I have a long way to go to get there, but reducing the plastic in my kitchen is definitely a goal of mine. We just replaced the IKEA tumblers with some stacking glass ones and will continue to take baby steps. Next up – food storage!

  2. pomomama January 2, 2011 at 12:26 pm #

    melamine is not suitable for use in a microwave full stop

  3. DLM January 2, 2011 at 6:38 pm #

    I’m almost there as well… except when it comes to cups for kids. I still use the Ikea BPA kids cups (those colourful stacking ones), but have no idea what to replace them with.
    Also, where do you find good stainless steel storage containers? I’d love to find some for my boys’ knapsacks for their snacks.

  4. DLM January 2, 2011 at 6:38 pm #

    Oops, I mean Ikea BPA FREE cups for the kids 🙂

  5. Alex January 2, 2011 at 6:42 pm #

    We are loving our Onyx storage containers!

  6. Suzanne January 3, 2011 at 2:19 am #

    Thanks for the comments! My favorite cups for my 4 kids right now are stainless steel found here:

    and glass (leftover from empty nutella jars).

    My top 3 lunch (and storage) containers are all stainless steel and are found here:

    1. Planetbox:
    2. Tiffins:
    3. Onyx air-tight:

    I hope these help!

    I’ll be linking to small plates for young children soon too. Just need to narrow the search first.

  7. DLM January 3, 2011 at 12:20 pm #

    Great links! Off I go to do some more research!

  8. Carla August 11, 2011 at 11:54 am #

    I happened on this post after buying, but wanted to mention that silicon seems to be a safe alternative for freezing, and you can get silicon popsicle and squeeze pop makers (which I was excited to find at my local kitchen store a few weeks back). Another good source of safe products is the soft landing ( But they’re based out of the US, and it can get expensive to order from them if you’re in Canada. (I found them when I lived in the US, so I still use them for research purposes, or gifts for my US friends, but rarely order anything for myself anymore.) For Vancouverites, some of the products they sell are available locally. I’ve found several of the lunch containers/kits at The Drive Organics (on Commercial), for instance. They also sell tiffin tins which I am considering for my own lunch. (I’m good with glass for storing in the fridge/freezer, but it’s heavy to commute with.) Those should be available is other parts of the city for much less too come to think of it.

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