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What You Really Need To Check When Using Plastic Containers

What You Really Need To Check When Using Plastic Containers

Our daily lives are filled with plastic, from tupperware to water bottles. Some plastic containers are safe for human consumption while others are potentially hazardous to your health.

Take a look around your kitchen. Are you sure your plastic is safe and non-toxic? To avoid risking your health, make sure to be familiar with the different types of plastic on the market today.

A simple glance, usually at the bottom of the container, is all you need to identify the material. Plastic is marked with a number, 1 through 7, and/or a set of letters that label its chemical composition. Like this:

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330755-R3L8T8D-650-1033-11

    Take a look below to find out what each one means.

    Type 1: PETE or PET

    PET plastic is clear, 100% recyclable, and most commonly used for drinks, mouthwash, and microwavable meal trays. In general, this plastic is considered safe for food and drink storage, although consumers should take some precautions.

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    It should be stored at room temperature. High temperatures can increase the levels of the chemical antimony, which is a potentially carcinogenic material. The rule of thumb with this plastic is to only use it once, as reuse can lead to bacterial build-up.

    Type 2: HDPE or HDP

    HDPE plastic is slightly harder than PET and has a very high strength-to-density ratio. Type 2 plastic is not transparent and has dye added for marketing purposes, which means it can come in many different colors. It is used to manufacture detergent bottles, milk jugs, and freezer bags. So far, experts have not found toxic chemicals in its composition. HDPE is not likely to leach into liquids, making it safe for food and drink storage.

    Type 3: PVC or 3V

    PVC plastic is potentially harmful to human health. It is used to make plastic cling wrap as well as some toys for children and pets. Type 3 plastic contains phthalates that may be related to reproductive complications in humans and animals due to chemicals that can affect hormonal production. These chemicals can easily leach into lipid-containing substances and have also been linked to asthma in children.

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    Type 4: LDPE

    LDPE plastic is flexible and solvent-resistant. Often used in frozen food, bread, and garbage bags as well as squeezable condiment bottles, it is not known to leach chemicals into food. It can also be found in the lining of paper milk cartons. Its production is considered hazardous but its use is considered low hazard. Many people feel more comfortable avoiding it.

    Type 5: PP

    PP plastic is harder than other plastics and semi-transparent. Common uses for this plastic include yogurt bottles, medicine containers, and margarine and butter tubs. This plastic can be placed in the microwave and reach high temperatures without melting. This means PP plastic containers do not risk leaching into their contents and are therefore safe for storing foods and drinks for human consumption.

    Type 6: PS

    Polystyrene, or PS, plastic is used in foam insulation, egg cartons, styrofoam drinking cups, and take-out containers.

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    Avoid using styrofoam materials for food and drink. This plastic is not safe when heated and does leach carcinogenic chemicals into food. Specifically, styrene can contaminate the contents. Styrene has been linked to an increased risk of lymphoma and leukemia. It has also been linked to lung tumors in lab animals. Even hot water and coffee served in styrofoam cups has been found to have increased levels of styrene. This plastic should not be utilized for long-term storage.

    Type 7: PC or Non-Labeled

    PC, Type 7, or any non-labeled plastic should be avoided whenever possible. This category is used to describe packages made of chemicals and resins that are not found in the previous six types of plastic. It is a hard, nearly unbreakable plastic. Polycarbonates contain bisphenol A (BPA) which leaches into container contents. Despite its dangers, it is often used for sports bottles, baby bottles, and water cooler bottles.

    Read Labels!

    Before purchasing any plastics, try to read the numbers and/or letters stamped on the bottom of the container. Try to avoid numbers 3, 6, and 7. Be careful with all plastic containers and don’t let them overheat or store food for too long. Glass containers are preferable.

    Featured photo credit: www.pixabay.com via pixabay.com

    More by this author

    Amber Pariona

    EFL Teacher, Lifehack Writer, English/Spanish Translator, MPA

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    Last Updated on October 16, 2018

    The Ultimate Guide to Help You Sleep Through the Night Tonight

    The Ultimate Guide to Help You Sleep Through the Night Tonight

    It’s well past midnight and you’ve got to get up in less than six hours. You toss and turn all night. Before you know it, another hour passes by and you start panicking.

    If I don’t get to sleep in the next 30 minutes, I’m going to be exhausted tomorrow!”

    One thing is for sure, you’re not alone. Over 70M+ Americans have stated that they don’t get the proper sleep they need at night.[1] So what could possibly be causing this insomnia epidemic?

    Throughout my entrepreneurial journey of building my language learning company, I have experimented and researched dozens of best sleep practices. Some have flopped but a few have dramatically improved the quality of my life and work.

    In this article, I’ll look into the reason why you’re sleep deprived and how to sleep through the night tonight.

    Why you can’t sleep through the night

    The first step to improving anything is getting to the bottom of the root problem. Different studies have shown the reasons why most people cannot sleep well at night.[2] Here are the main ones that the average person faces:

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    Stress

    If you’ve ever stayed up at night worrying about something, know that it’s a major sleep inhibitor. When you’re feeling stress, your mind and body becomes more activated, making it incredibly difficult to fall asleep. Even when you do manage to sleep, it won’t be deep enough to help you feel rested the next day.

    Exposure to blue light before sleep time

    We’re exposed to harmful blue light on a daily basis through the use of our digital screens. If you’ve never heard of blue light, it’s part of the visible light spectrum that suppresses melatonin, our sleep hormones. Other harmful effects include digital eye strains and macular cellular damage.

    While daytime exposure to blue light is not very harmful, night time exposure tricks our brain into thinking it’s daytime. By keeping your brain alert and suppressing melatonin, your mind is unable to shut down and relax before bedtime.

    Eating close to bedtime

    Eating too late can actually be an issue for many people, especially those who are older than 40. The reason is, eating before laying down increases the chances of Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), in which stomach acid backflows into the esophagus.

    Another reason not to eat too late is sleep quality. Even if you manage to sleep right after eating, it’s likely that you’ll wake up tired. Instead of letting your body rest during sleep, it has to digest the food that was entered before bedtime.

    Rule of thumb: eat 3-4 hours before bedtime.

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    Medical conditions

    In some cases, it could be medical conditions that cause your sleep problems. If you can’t relate yourself to the above reasons or any of these common sleep problem causes, you should visit the doctor.

    The vicious sleep cycle

    The biggest danger to repeating the bad habits mentioned above is the negative cycle that it can take you through. A bad night’s sleep can affect not only your energy but your willpower and decision making skills.

    Here’s an example of a bad sleep pattern:

    You get a bad night’s sleep
    –> You feel tired and stressful throughout the day.
    –> You compensate it with unhealthy habits (for example junk food, skipping exercises, watching Netflix etc.)
    –> You can’t sleep well (again) the next night.

      You can imagine what could happen if this cycle repeats over a longer period of time.

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      How to sleep better (throughout the night)

      To help you break the vicious cycle and stop waking up in the middle of the night, I’ll explain to you a list of actionable steps to solve your trouble staying asleep.

      1. Take control over the last 90 minutes of your night

      What you do (or don’t do) before bedtime have significant impact on the quality of your sleep. Many times, it can be the difference between staying up until 4am and sleeping like a baby.

      Here are a few suggestions:

      • Go from light to dark – Darkness stimulates production of the sleep hormone melatonin. Turn off unused light around the house, and think about investing into warm light that you can use in the bedroom before bedtime.
      • Avoid screens (or wear blue light blocking glasses) – Keep the bedroom a technology-free zone as the light from electronic devices can disturb your sleep. If you need to work, wear blue light blocking glasses (also known as computer glasses) throughout or before you sleep to prevent sleep disruption.
      • Find an activity that helps you to wind down  This could be anything that calms you down, and reduces thinking (especially unnecessary stress). Fir example, listening to soothing/good feel music, taking a hot bath, reading or meditating.
      • Keep any electronics you have on the other side of the room or outside the room – One of the most harmful things that can disrupt your sleep is the notifications you get from your smartphones. The simplest way to avoid this is to keep it away from you.
      • Create a bedtime routine – A night routine is a couple of things you do prior to going to bed. By doing these things every night, you’ll have a more restful and high-quality sleep. Learn how to pick up a night routine here: The Ultimate Night Routine Guide to Sleep Better and Wake Up Productive

      2. Eat the right nutrients (and avoid the wrong ones)

      What you eat (not just when we eat) plays a critical role in your sleep quality. If you’re ever in doubt of what to eat to improve your sleep, take the following into consideration:

      • Kiwi – This green fruit may be the ultimate pre-bed snack. When volunteers ate two kiwis an hour before hitting the hay, they slept almost a full extra hour. Kiwis are full of vitamins C and E, serotonin and folate—all of which may help you snooze.
      • Soy foods – Foods made with soy such as tofu, miso and edamame, are rich in isoflavones. These compounds increase the production of serotonin, a brain chemical that influences the body’s sleep-wake cycle.
      • Fiber-rich foods – Eating more fiber could be key for better sleep. Eating fiber was associated with more restorative slow-wave sleep—the more you eat, the better you sleep—per a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. Fiber prevents blood sugar surges that may lower melatonin. Get a fiber boost from beans, artichokes, bran cereal and quinoa.
      • Salmon – Most fish, especially salmon, halibut and tuna boost vitamin B6, which is needed to make melatonin— a sleep-inducing hormone triggered by darkness.

      3. Adjust your sleep temperature

      Once you’ve gone through the first 2 recommendations, the last step to experiment with is temperature. According to Sleep.org, the ideal temperature for sleep is 60-67 Farenheit. This may be cooler than what most people are used to, but keep in mind that our body temperature changes once we fall asleep.

      Rule of thumb: sleeping in cooler temperature is better for sleep quality than warmer temperature.

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      Find out how to maintain the optimal temperature to sleep better here: How to Sleep Faster with the Best Temperature

      Sleep better form now on

      Congrats on making it to the end of this guide on sleep. If you’re serious about taking the necessary steps in improving your sleep, remember to take it one step at a time.

      I recommend trying just one of the steps mentioned such as taking a hot bath, blocking out blue light at night, or sleeping in cooler temperature. From there, see how it impacts your sleep quality and you can keep doing what works, and throw away what doesn’t.

      As long as you follow these steps cautiously and diligently, I know you’ll see improved results in your sleep!

      Featured photo credit: pixabay via pixabay.com

      Reference

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