Friday, September 12, 2008

Aluminum Foil or Plastic Wrap?

Ever wondered which is better from an environmental perspective -- aluminum foil or plastic wrap? I love the explanation found at Ideal Bite. But here are the key points from an environmental perspective --

CHOOSE recycled aluminum foil whenever possible.

HOW TO GET IT -- If you can't easily find recycled aluminum foil at your local store, ask them to carry it. But in the meantime, the next time you shop at Amazon.com you can add a package of If You Care 100% Recycled Aluminum Foil Roll (this one comes in a 5 pack, which is economical).

CLEAN AND RECYCLE -- clean off used aluminum foil and then throw it into the recycling bin. Aluminum is great for recycling because it can be endlessly recycled, unlike plastic.

ALTERNATIVELY, if you must use plastic then make sure it isn't made from PVC. Obviously, you can't use aluminum foil in the microwave. Ziploc, Saran, and Glad brands are all free of PVCs. After use, if the plastic is completely clean it may be able to be recycled -- ask your recycling center for their guidelines.

HEALTH CONCERNS -- Although environmentally it seems like aluminum foil would be the best way to go, there have been some questions about aluminum and if by using it there are any health concerns we should be aware of. Here are the points I have researched:
  • Ideal Bites says "Keep in mind that aluminum reacts with anything salty or acidic and could end up in those kinds of food - and yes, you can have too much aluminum in your diet."
  • The Washington Post says "There is little doubt that whatever aluminum leaks into our foods from cookware is a small fraction of the aluminum we ingest through normal eating, drinking and breathing on our aluminum- pervaded planet."
  • Canada's Department of Health has a long explanation of aluminum concerns and says "Studies have shown that the amount of aluminum that leaches from aluminum cookware and aluminum foil into food is generally negligible."

BOTTOM LINE -- It seems to me that it would be good for you to choose reusable containers over aluminum foil and plastic wrap when you can. From there, choose aluminum foil as a first choice, then non-PVC plastic wrap.

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