When to Throw Away Your Containers

Whether you use Tupperware, another store brand or reuse containers food came in, everyone has plastic storage pots that they keep for years. Sometimes you throw them out if you lose the lid. But others are kept for decades. The question is, how long is it safe to use the same containers over and over?

While brand durability varies, Tupperware is known to be great forever. People have been using the same Tupperware for 30 years! That’s great for the wallet. But, if it was made before 2010, it may contain BPA and other harmful chemicals that can leach into food. So, even if it looks good, stop using Tupperware older than 13 years old. Use them to store nonfood items instead. You can also reach out to the company for replacements. The brand offers a Limited Lifetime Warranty for normal wear and tear.

For other brands, there are lots of reasons to replace them. It might not be too much of an issue if they become stained. We all know that when you put tomato sauce in a plastic container, that container is pink now. But if it smells and you can’t get the scent out, you may want to replace it. That’s a personal judgment call. One that isn’t a judgment is if the texture changes. If it’s filled with scratches, peeling or melted at all, it’s time to get rid of it. That kind of damage increases the risk of chemicals leaching into food.

If you are concerned about chemicals in your food, your safest option is glass. It used to be that glass storage ware was expensive and rare. Now it’s in Walmart, Target and even the supermarket! Pyrex, Anchor Hocking, Duralex, Lifefactory, Ball and Kerr are all great brands. Glassware from China sometimes contains lead or cadmium. If you already own glassware and aren’t sure where it came from, you can use LeadCheck Swabs to see if it has lead.

Stainless steel and silicone containers are great options if you don’t want plastic but want to avoid the weight of glass. The cost varies by brand and can be less or more expensive than glass.

Microwaving containers shorten their lifespan and increase the risk that they will leach chemicals into food. Containers like those made by Ziploc and similar brands have a five to 10-year lifespan. If they have become cloudy, scratched or are peeling, it’s time to recycle them and get something new.

Banner image: Kate Trifo via Unsplash

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