Science

Is BPA-Free Good Enough?

You probably already guessed by the title…

Let's get right to the point, while BPA-free is a great step forward and shows how customers can call for big commercial and policy change, BPA-free isn't always quite what it seems.

If you want a little refresher about what BPA is and how it can affect your health, read our article about what BPA is first.


Now that you're all refreshed, we can explain why plastic bottles and containers marked BPA-free, while an improvement, might not mean you are completely in the clear. BPA is an acronym that stands for bisphenol A. This was really common in products because it works well to harden plastic and create a lining that keep food from affecting and eroding metal in canned goods. But, there are hundreds of different types of bisphenols. Bisphenol A was the most popular, but once society realized how much it can affect health, people started to call for a change. (Side note: this is awesome, we love it, and personally think everyone should do this more often. Tell brands what you do and don't want, they do listen.)

As consumers started voicing their concerns, companies started to listen and make a switch. The hiccup here was that they started replacing BPA (which we learned was bad) with similar chemicals like BPS and BPF (which we didn't know much about). These swaps are often called "regrettable replacements" by scientists. That's because we take out something known to be bad, replace it with something similar that we don't really know anything about, then learn later that they are bad in their own right.

What matters is that these "new" chemicals are more similar than we think. But, because they are "new and different" chemicals, it's technically not wrong or lying when a brand says their products are BPA-free. They don't have BPA in them, that's true, but they also aren't free of bisphenols or as Dr. Laura Vandenberg explains, estrogenic chemicals.

"The problem was never with BPA. It's not that it's a chemical that looks funny to me, it's that it's estrogenic. So, replacing it with something else that is estrogenic just so that [a company] can say 'yay, no more BPA,' was never the point. At least not for me. I am interested in estrogens, and that's where we missed the mark," says Dr. Vandenberg, Assistant Professor and Graduate Program Director at the School of Public Health and Health Sciences at University of Massachusetts Amherst.

While BPA-free is a step in the right direction, what we really want is products that are bisphenol and estrogen-mimicking chemicals free.

"I worked very hard to help consumer and health advocates know about BPA. But maybe when we educated people about BPA we didn't do it in the right way. Because, in the end, consumers have asked for BPA-free products but they didn't ask strongly enough for estrogen free products. If we, collectively as a society, had asked for estrogen free products, maybe we wouldn't be dealing with BPA-free products that are instead made with BPS and other estrogenic bisphenols," Dr. Vandenberg says.

To avoid accidentally getting BPA-free products that are hiding estrogenic replacements, we recommend trying to reduce the amount of plastic in your life, especially in items that come in contact with food and drinks. When it comes to water bottles and baby bottles, look for glass or stainless steel. Instead of keeping leftovers in plastic containers, try for glass, stainless steel, or silicone options (see our food storage roundup for inspiration). If you are still looking for the right one, start keeping leftovers on ceramic plates or in bowls covered with aluminum foil or cloth and wax wraps. Look for frozen foods instead of canned foods. While frozen fruits and vegetables often come in plastic, we explain why it's better over here. There are lots of other easy swaps you can make, and we talk about a bunch of them throughout the site.

Let's start by acknowledging that take out is a wonderful invention. It's super convenient, delicious, and means no clean up - what more could you ask for? While we praise take out as much as the next person, we have a few suggestions for ways to make your next lunch on the go or Chinese and a movie night a little healthier, without saying you have to order the steamed veggies and white rice.

Keep Reading Show Less
Want more news like this?
Sign up to receive our email newsletter and never miss an update!
By submitting above, you agree to our privacy policy.
/ SOCIAL
Food

Stop Eating Lunch at Your Desk

Seriously, here are 5 reasons why

Work can be crazy, and working through lunch almost feels expected at many offices. But, if you can actually take a break, even just a few times a week, it can make a big difference for your physical, mental, and social well-being. Here are some of the top benefits of not eating at your desk.

Keep Reading Show Less
Roundups

12 Essentials for Packing a Plastic Free Lunch

our favorite reusable items for packing lunch for the kids (and yourself!)

As all the kids are going back to school, it's time to get ready to start getting creative when it comes to packing lunches. While plastic sandwich bags may be convenient, they aren't the healthiest and are only adding to the plastic problem in our oceans. Instead, stock up on some of these lunchbox essentials. They are reusable, washable, and healthier than a bag full of plastic containers. We also have a roundup of general food storage containers you might want to check out.

Keep Reading Show Less

Everyone has their favorite water bottle - a Camelbak with the chewy straw, or a new shiny S'well bottle, or the Hydroflask that keeps your drink icy for days. And, we know that reusable plastic water bottles have some perks- lightweight, see through, indestructible- but they also have one big drawback, the plastic. Plastics, even ones that are BPA free, are often made of chemicals that can seep into water and affect your health. So, that's where this big question comes into play. Do I have to (or should I) ditch my beloved Nalgene with all my stickers from travels throughout the years?

Our answer is - you don't have to pitch it, but it probably shouldn't be your primary bottle either. You can stop reading here and check our our roundup of a dozen glass and stainless steel reusable water bottles if that's enough info for you, or you can keep reading and well give you some tips and nuggets of info on why those tips will make a difference.

Keep Reading Show Less
Roundups

A Dozen Reusable Water Bottles

Our top picks for glass and stainless steel water bottles

If you've made it here, you probably already know that bottled water isn't great. Plastic in general can also be tough because of the ever popular BPA and it's sister chemicals. So, we collected 12 of our favorite plastic-free, reusable water bottles so you don't have to go hunting. Many of these brands make many types of bottle and cups. Feel free to poke around to find a size or shape that might work better for you, but keep in mind always go for glass or stainless steel. That assures that even if the plastic bottles are BPA free, you won't have to worry about BPA replacements. It's often tough to find bottles without plastic lids, but if the water isn't constantly touching the lid, a plastic lid usually isn't something to get too worried about.

If you have some old plastic reusable water bottles kicking around (who doesn't!) then check out our advice about how to use them safely.

Keep Reading Show Less
Science

Having Trouble Keeping a Healthy Weight?

Here's why chemicals might be keeping you from shedding those last few pounds

If you're eating healthy, getting lots of sleep, but just can't seem to hit a healthy weight, it might be something you've never thought about. Obesogens, a term coined in 2006 to refer to chemicals that cause us to gain and hold on to weight, and can influence weight loss. Now, we know that maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle is influenced by what seems like a bajillion factors, and is a complicated issue with no easy solution. But, it looks like obesogens are a piece of the puzzle and definitely something you want to be aware about. Data shows that obesity is an increasing problem. Over one-third of both adults and children in the U.S. are obese or overweight (1, 5). Even for people who regularly work out or have superhuman strength to say no to desserts, obesogens are having an impact. Unfortunately, as obesogen research is in its early stages, we still don't know everything about these chemicals and how they affect weight gain, but as of now, here's what we do know.

Keep Reading Show Less

5 Ways Zero Waste is Also Good For Your Health

Good for the planet and good for you

So, maybe you've heard of the zero waste movement that's been gaining traction. Or, maybe you've seen the Instagrammers showing that they have only made a small jar of trash in the last four years (props to you Laura Singer!). Whether you've heard of this or not, it seems like most people can agree that trying to create less trash (and support a circular economy, which is typically the motivation for those going zero waste) is good for the planet. It's a mind frame shift that helps everyone think about durability, what products we actually need, and how we can treat the items we do have better, which often times translates into decisions that are better for our health as well. While going completely trash free might not be right for you today, it doesn't mean we all can't try to follow some of the easier changes the lifestyle promotes. Making less trash is typically seen as a way to protect the future of our planet, but a lot of these little habit changes are also great for your personal health. So, what are some ways that zero waste is also good for your health?

Keep Reading Show Less
Want more news like this?
Sign up to receive our email newsletter and never miss an update!
By submitting above, you agree to our privacy policy.
/ SOCIAL