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.

Roundups

14 Non-toxic Lotions

stay moisturized without feeling sticky, slippery, or like you're covered in chemicals

Nobody likes feeling like a lizard. But, at the same time, nobody likes researching for safe products. Good news, we did the research and found you 14 wonderful body moisturizers and lotions. If you are looking for a luxurious lotion or just want to keep your hands from cracking, this list has you covered. And, the products are well reviewed all over the internet and easy to find both online and in your typical drug stores or beauty aisles.

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
Family

I’m Confused. What Should I Feed My Kids?

Advice and 3 Simple Recipes from Dr. Julia Getzelman

Did you see that thing about there being lead and arsenic in baby food pouches and packaged snacks? What about the one where there's RoundUp (or glyphosate) on cereals and oatmeal? It takes long enough to get your kids strapped in their highchair, so you probably don't have time to do tons of research on which brands and products are safe. Not sure about you, but that's definitely not happening in my house. Don't worry! That's why we sat down with Dr. Julia Getzelman, MD, integrative pediatrician and founder of GetzWell Personalized Pediatrics in San Francisco, to get her advice on what to feed your kids. She gave us some of her best tips and even a couple of recipes, and we are going to share them with you.

Keep Reading Show Less
Food

Food Waste Feast’s 2 Favorite Recipes to Make with Beans

Plus tips from a chef on how to cook with dried beans and ditch the cans

We all know having a can of beans on hand means whipping up dinner can happen pretty quickly. While we love a quick and easy dinner, we aren't as thrilled by a meal that might introduce us to some unnecessary chemicals. Why would whipping up some rice and beans do that? The quick answer is that cans are often lined with BPA, a substance often used to line aluminum cans to keep the food inside from reacting with the metal. So, we talked to a chef Mei Li, co-founder of restaurant Mei Mei in Boston, MA, forthcoming cookbook author, and co-founder of Food Waste Feast, to figure out what's up with dried beans.

Guess what we learned - dried beans aren't that scary.

Keep Reading Show Less
Life

Sweater Weather Means Sweater Washing

A whole bunch of tips for non-toxic ways to wash, store, and care for sweaters

As we get the first hints of true chill in the air, that means it's time to start pulling out the layers and bundling up in all the cozy sweaters you can find. But, now that you've pulled them out of storage, does it look like they need some TLC? Maybe it's just a little freshening up, or maybe you notice some tiny little holes that weren't there before. Well, the good news is that we've got a couple of tips for caring for your sweaters, and none of them will introduce any chemicals to your wardrobe or closet.

Keep Reading Show Less

No matter where you turn everyone has suggestions for how to prioritize when to shop organic. Some swear by the dirty dozen (props to you if you can remember a dozen different fruits and veggies - I sure can't) other say just do what you can. While that advice is a start, sometimes we get confused and want a little bit of guidance. So, we went through the dirty dozen and other lists to break it down into a silly 3 word phrase. Like when you had to study vocab in school and you would make up stories, leafy berry skins helps us remember the 3 things to opt organic for in the produce section. Leafy greens, berries of all kinds, and things with skin you eat.

Keep Reading Show Less
Science

Antimicrobials, or anti-your-health?

Why you should rethink buying antimicrobial products

You know it's coming, the dreaded flu season. Maybe you've tried investing in an antimicrobial mattress, shower curtain or probably the most common, soap, to try and prevent those germs from making you and your family sick. They just seem so promising, with their claims of preventing 99.9% of all germs. But, are they actually keeping you safer? Based on new research, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a statement on why antimicrobials might not be the best way to fight off germs. We'll break down everything for you.

Keep Reading Show Less
Life

Another Reason to Buy a New Lipstick

Why you might want to consider switching brands

We all have our favorite lipstick. The one that we wear practically every day, is acceptable for work and going out, and that you are always sure to buy extras of, just in case the store runs out. Maybe yours is bright red, a nude pink, or maybe you like to go all out and wear a different shade every week. Regardless of how you get your perfect pout, it might be time to put on your detective hat and take a deeper dive into what makes your lips shine.

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