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How Can You Choose a Plastic Water Bottle or Food Container That Is Safe?

We all hear about the dangers of the chemicals from plastics leaching into the water from our drinking bottles and other containers. So, how do we know which ones are safe? There is no guarantee that any plastic is completely free of leaching. The best choice is to avoid plastics altogether. However, if you do choose plastics, some are better than others.


You have probably seen the numbers in a triangle that appear on the bottom of many containers. Those numbers identify the type of plastic used.

Those to Avoid

The worst plastics are the ones with the numbers 3 and 6. These are not typically used for drink containers, however cling wrap, disposable cutlery, and Styrofoam packaging (as take-out trays from a restaurant) are made with these plastics.

Use with Caution

Those labeled Number 1 and 7 can be used, but with caution. Water, juice and soft drinks are often bottled in Number 1 plastics. Baby bottles and larger—3-5 gallon—containers frequently contain Number 7, which is actually a catch-all category to include many different plastics. Some contain BHA, and some do not.

The Safest Choices

Plastics numbered 2, 4, or 5 are the best options. These have been found to leach the least amount of chemicals.

Some General Guidelines for Plastics

  • “Microwave/dishwasher safe” only means that the product will not warp when put in these appliances. It does not guarantee that none of the chemicals will contaminate the food. A better choice for any reheating is to use glass containers, and wash plastics by hand in a mild detergent.
  • Avoid allowing your plastic bottles to be left in a hot car, or anywhere where they will be exposed to higher temperatures.
  • If you bring home food from a restaurant, immediately repackage the leftovers in a glass container.
  • Instead of Styrofoam cups, opt for stainless steel, glass or even bamboo.
  • The silverware in fast food restaurants is often made from a Number 6 plastic. Avoid meals requiring utensils, or bring your own.
  • Bring water from home in a container you trust, rather than purchasing water that has been pre-bottled in a questionable plastic.


Do you have a favorite water bottle that you use that is a safe alternative? Let us know which ones you like best.

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