The Perils of Plastic (even when you BYO)

Such is the happy sight whenever we see customers BYO (Bring Your Own) containers to refill their wares at Reprovisions! Increasingly, we see more people doing that; it is no mean feat if one is already a heavy “lugger” of sorts, such as students who need to carry their textbooks to and fro between home and school (or the NTU hostel), or the zero waste warrior who carries a huge shopping bag across the island to get her bi-weekly dose of staples such as oats, granola or pasta. Kudos to all who read this and who already practise BYO!

It’s widely encouraged for us to ditch single-use plastics, and if we aren’t capable of Herculean efforts and carry glass or stainless steel containers when we head to bulk food stores, then the lesser evil is to use plastic containers, such as these CNY-esque containers that are durable and lightweight. Besides, if we want to buy a haul that can last our snack or stomach cravings for some time, it’s pertinent that we use containers that can be securely sealed for sufficient degree of air-tightness. We want our food to keep fresh inside – this is most important for items that are best eaten when they are crunchy, which include various snacks and nuts.

So, what are the perils of using plastic containers when we BYO then?  Firstly, food-grade plastic does not mean they are universally safe for all types of food, and also for unlimited uses. For example, take the most pervasive mineral water bottle or the “ta bao” food container from the hawker centre. They are most likely made of PET or PETE (“Grade 1” as seen from the labels usually found at the bottom), which is not meant to be reusable if one is to act with caution – research has shown that they leach antimony, a carcinogen, as well as phthalates, an endocrine (hormone) disruptor. The longer the liquid is left inside, the greater the potential for release of antimony. This can be made worse if we leave them in hot places such as inside the car or near the window!

It is advisable that if you should wish to reuse your plastic containers,  do look out for their recycling grades usually printed or embossed on them – only grades #2 (HDPE), #4 (LDPE) and #5 (PP) are relatively safe for reuse. Even so, one ought to be careful not to place acidic foods such as pickles, sour candy or tomatoes into them as they will lead to the leaching of chemicals. Keep these containers in cool, dry places (especially in sunny Singapore!) to prevent UV light and heat from accelerating the leaching process.

If you wish to be extra safe, there are a myriad of other reusable receptacles that you can use, such as silicone collapsible cups, silicone collapsible lunchboxes, or snack bags from Roll’ Eat. These are all available at Reprovisions!

Just for readers: 10% OFF all items online (https://reprovisions.com/shop/) when you use Promo Code “ILOVEBYO” upon checkout! Valid from now till 31st Aug 2019 11:59PM. 

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