Have you ever noticed that liquids taste better when you drink them out of a glass cup or bottle rather than plastic? I’m not sure what the science behind this phenomenon is—maybe it’s that glass preserves flavors better, or that it doesn’t absorb anything from or leech anything into beverages. Whatever the reason, there seems to be a general consensus that drinking out of glass is superior.
This same concept applies to other glass containers like bowls and storage tubs. Unlike plastic, glass is non-porous, so it doesn’t hold onto flavors or smells. This also makes it the more sanitary choice. There’s no debate as to whether heating it causes health concerns, so you can always bring glass to a high enough temperature to sterilize it.
Why ditch the plastic?
There are many substances and chemicals involved in the manufacture of plastics. Many of you are likely familiar with BPA, a toxin used for many years in the production of some plastics and in the lining of food and beverage containers (and widely eradicated from consumer products in recent years). Lesser known are phthalates, found in number 3 plastics, which may present similar health concerns.
Aside from potentially leeching chemicals into our foods and drinks, plastics are environmentally unfriendly. Recyclable, yes—into new generations of plastic. Every plastic bottle, utensil, bag, etc. that you’ve ever tossed or seen in a garbage can is still sitting around in a landfill (or the ocean) somewhere. Plastics are not broken down by any naturally occurring substance on Earth.
I think we can all agree this is a problem, although we’ve yet to come to any definitive solutions. For now, the easiest way to help is to limit your personal contribution—i.e., limiting your purchasing and discarding of plastics.
Ready to go glass?
Here are some easy ways you can start to incorporate more glass and less plastic into your kitchen.
- Consider phasing out plastic cups and pitchers. It’s easy to find drinking glasses, but you don’t have to buy a special set. Mason jars make great, multi-purpose drinking glasses that you can also use to hold flowers, store grains or dried herbs, or even make pickles or preserves in.
- Pick the right time to introduce glass to your kiddos. Many parents stay away from glass altogether for their young ones, and understandably so. A chef and friend of mine told me he disagreed with this, though, as he said reserving glass for grown-ups would make it seem “scary” and prevent little ones from learning how to handle it with care. His 5-year-old daughter only drank from glass. Sure, she’d spilt a few cups, but he took time to help her hold it and teach her how delicate it was. Decide if and when it’s right for your family to transition.
- Switch to a glass water bottle. The selection of reusable water bottles is pretty much dominated by plastic, but don’t let that deter you. You can find a wide, aptly-sized selection of glass drinking bottles that come filled with some lovely liquid in drink cooler cases and in tea and juice isles. Kombucha bottles are often glass, as are some iced teas, juices, and other refreshments. Just find one with a good screw-on lid, drink it up, and refill it with water as many times as you like. You can even soak it in warm water if you want to peel off the original label.
- Read up on the benefits of snap-lock glass storage containers and consider gradually using them instead of plastic storage tubs. Along with lasting longer and keeping your food fresher, they’ve got a ton of other uses like reheating, freezing, and prepping.
- Get a nice set of glass mixing bowls, or use the larger pieces of a set of the aforementioned glass containers to mix in. These won’t dull, discolor, or get chewed up over time, and you’ll be surprised how much more smoothly a rubber spatula glides over the surface.