Glass or Plastic?

Home & Family, Living Green
on November 7, 2011

When you reach into your kitchen cabinet for a container to store that leftover spaghetti, do you think about what you're grabbing? We know reducing our use of plastic water bottles is eco-friendly, but when it comes to everyday storage containers, which is the greener alternative, glass or plastic?

Durability. Reusable glass containers have a longer life. You may pay a dollar or two more for a glass storage bowl versus a plastic one, but it generally will last longer. Plastic containers are more likely to wear out, crack and take on ugly stains. A durable glass container can save resources and money.

Easy to clean. Glass containers clean easier than plastic containers. Why is this greener? Any time you can use less soap or detergent to clean household items you can save resources and money.

Easy to recycle. When you no longer have a need for your glass containers, you can recycle them with ease. The Glass Packaging Institute says that it only takes one recycled glass bottle to save enough energy to power a computer for 30 minutes. Some states reward people who recycle glass bottles with a small payment. You won't get rich, but the change can add up.

Plastics and chemical leaching. Plastic containers that contain BPA (bisphenol A) have been found to leach the chemical out when the plastic is heated. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, "traces of BPA levels are transferred when hot or boiling liquids or foods come in contact with packaging made of BPA." Choosing glass containers to reheat foods and liquids helps reduce the risk of ingesting this chemical, which is associated with cancer, reproductive problems and other diseases.

Reusable water bottles. There are several plastic water bottles on the market today labeled BPA-free, but if you're still concerned about the chemicals in plastics, it may be time for another choice. A greener solution may be to choose a glass bottle with a silicone sleeve. The sleeve has a see-through window and protects the glass bottle from damage. Your water will stay cool and you won't have to worry about chemical leakage or that funky metal taste we sometimes get from aluminum water bottles.