The Dangers of Plastic Containers + Local Restaurants That Offer Alternatives

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One of the many great perks of living in proximity to a city is of course, access. Things like Ubers and Lyfts and even take-out are readily available to us. We can order froyo or alcohol or even Postmates paper towels and toiletries to our homes in a matter of minutes. But there’s a very real concern — a concern that’s two-fold — which comes with ordering food.

shaka bowl biodegradable bowls

{Photo courtesy of Shaka Bowl}

Take-out is easy and convenient, but if your food is wrapped up in single-use plastic, then A: it’s not good for the environment and B: it’s likely not good for you. One of the main health concerns with ordering food occurs when hot liquids are delivered in plastic containers. It’s called plastic leaching and it may be poisoning us, according to Vox and other sources.

Plastic Leaching, Defined

Plastic leaching refers to the process of toxins “leaching out” from plastic containers. Our foods and liquids {which are contained in these plastics} then absorb those toxins. One study from 2011 reported by NPR showed that even if plastics do not release BPA — a chemical with a particularly bad rap, called Bisphenol-A — many of these plastics still secrete harmful chemicals that mimic the sex hormone estrogen.

Exposure to plastics has been linked to reproductive health issues like infertility, cancer, immune system suppression, and developmental delays in children. In the 2011 study, researchers tested baby bottles, deli packaging, and flexible bags. Nearly 70% of the products tested were found to secrete chemicals that mimicked estrogen.

Read More: Where to Buy Non-Toxic Products in Hoboken, Jersey City, + Beyond

What You Should Know

While BPA might not be an issue in your to-go container, there are still severe health concerns {and environmental concerns} by using plastic as a container for hot liquids or foods. Plastic exposed to boiling temperatures releases potentially harmful chemicals 55 times quicker than normal, a 2018 study published in the journal Toxicology Letters found. That means that your plastic soup containers from the Chinese restaurant, hot dishes served up in plastic containers, and more are no bueno.

There’s another plastic component called styrene that is found in most styrofoam to-go containers. If the container gets hot, the styrene seeps out, leaching into the food or beverage it contains. Styrene exposure has been linked respiratory issues and increased risk of cancers like leukemia and lymphoma. In fact, California has begun federally recognizing styrene as a carcinogen and considering changing its labeling. We’re not trying to scare you, but the more you look into this ish, the scarier it seems.

Local Companies with Sustainable Options

Quality Greens Biodegradable Bowl

{Photo courtesy of Quality Greens}

Bareburger {515 Washington Street}

Although a chain, Bareburger is a health-conscious company. Their to-go containers are made from sugar cane and corn, making them completely biodegradable.

Choc O Pain French Bakery & Cafe {157 First Street and 100 Hudson Street uptown – as well as two locations in Jersey City}

This local French cafe serves its items in compostable to-go materials and even offers discounts to guests who bring in reusable travel mugs for liquids.

Pilsener Haus & Biergarten {1422 Garden Street}

This Hoboken local offers biodegradable and eco-friendly food storage containers and generally, aims to reduce waste.

Shaka Bowl {110 Washington Street and 720 Monroe Street in Hoboken}

With two locations, Shak Bowl also offers sustainable to-go containers. The to-go containers are 100% biodegradable and can be composted when finished {or reused}. Shaka recently rolled out these biodegradable bowls after much feedback from its customers.

Simply Juiced {262 1st Street}

This First Street juice bar serves its acaí bowls in recycled plastic, while its larger dishes {like a poke bowl} are served in biodegradable pulp containers, all soups and drinks are served in paper cups.

Playa Bowls {100 Hudson Street}

An acaí bowl favorite, this Hudson Street locale serves its menu options out of biodegradable sugar cane containers.

Quality Greens Kitchen {227 Washington Street}

This healthy hotspot offers its savory dishes in 100% natural biodegradable and disposable pulp bowls.

Juice Journey {45 River Road, Edgewater}

Although located outside of Hudson County, Juice Journey is worth the journey for a healthier, safer to-go option. The Edgewater juice bar serves its acaí bowls out of biodegradable containers.

Honeygrow {120 Washington Street}

Just like its fellow healthy-food eateries, Honeygrow serves its meals out of safe cardboard bowls and containers.

See More: Hoboken Composting: Everything You Need to Know

Why Paper is Better

In lieu of plastic to-go containers, paper is almost always the healthier alternative. Most recently, Corona received a lot of positive feedback for its eco-friendly decision to cut plastic from its packaging. The plastic-free initiative will begin rolling out at the start of 2019 and will first take place in Corona’s birthplace of Tulum, Mexico before it hopefully makes its way to the States.

Instead of six packs coming with plastic rings, the rings have been replaced with a plant-based alternative. Made with “plant-based biodegradable fibers” and “a mix of by-product waste and compostable materials,” the rings are said to break down into organic material. This eliminates the environmental concern, as the rings will not harm the environment or wildlife they may consume them. And because the rings are devoid of plastic, they’re BPA- and styrene-free, which constitutes a much healthier option for people. Without exposure to these chemicals, we are greatly reducing our risk of infertility, cancer, and other issues.

For a comprehensive list of Hoboken’s Green Businesses and the green practices they execute, visit HobokenNJ.gov.

What do you do to protect yourself and your family from plastic leaching? Let us know your sustainable practices in the comments below!

See More: Recycling in Hoboken + Tips on How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

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Steph Osmanski is a freelance writer who specializes in sustainability and health and wellness content. She is currently pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing at Stony Brook Southampton.