We’ve been told for years to avoid plastic with BPA in it, but recent news suggests that our BPA-free plastic bottles and food containers could still be damaging our health.

We examine the facts around plastics and suggest a gallery of completely plastic-free alternatives to water bottles, coffee cups and food containers.

By Lorna White

What is BPA in plastics?

Bisphenol A or BPA as it’s more commonly referred to, is a chemical found in most plastics. In recent years, BPA has received increasingly bad press after claims that it can negatively affect our health, with scientist Patricia Hunt revealing its potential dangers back in 1999. Since then, its use has largely been banned in many countries around the world, leading to manufacturers coming up with alternative types of plastic.

Does BPA cause cancer?

When heated up used overtime, BPA can have a harmful effect on our bodies. Studies have shown that BPA can affect our hormone balance, meaning that it can cause fertility issues as well as raising the risk of obesity, diabetes and certain types of cancers including breast and ovarian.

Is BPA-free plastic safe to use?

This has meant most of us now look for the BPA free label when purchasing plastic food containers and water bottles, and most manufacturers now produce BPA free products. However, new scientific research has suggested that BPA free plastic may not be as harmless as we think.

Manufacturers switched harmful BPA for other chemicals such as BPS and although this was believed to be less damaging to our bodies, recent studies have shown that BPS could have a similarly negative impact on our hormone levels. Again, this research was carried out by scientist Patricia Hunt, who has been examining the subject for years. Her latest studies have found that the replacement chemicals used instead of BPA inflict the same damage on sperm and eggs.

Her advice to consumers: ignore the labels, ‘plastic products that show physical signs of damage or ageing cannot be considered safe.’

The best plastic-free containers and bottles

The bamboo coffee cup

Ecoffee cup, £11.95
Enjoy your coffee guilt free with this very stylish reusable coffee cup from Ecoffee cup. Made with natural, sustainable bamboo fibre, it won’t harm your health or contribute to waste. You’ll also get a discount off your favourite hot drink if you use your cup in most leading coffee shops.

The plastic-free water bottle

Chilly’s bottle, £20
Apart from looking very sleek and stylish, this stainless-steel reusable water bottle is also very clever. The smart double-walled vacuum means it will keep your cold drinks ice-cold for up to 24 hours, even in the summer. And if you prefer to take a hot drink with you, it’ll stay hot for up to 12 hours – perfect for winter. Plus, with four different kinds of container of various sizes and trendy designs, there’s one to match every personality.

The glass food container

IKEA glass food container, £5
If you like to heat your lunch up in the microwave, it is important to know the container you are using is safe. That’s why glass containers are the safest material to heat up your meals in. These glass containers from Ikea come in all shapes and sizes complete with a natural bamboo lid.

The bamboo lunchbox

Cath Kidston Bamboo lunch box, £8
For cold lunches, this adorable bamboo lunch box from Cath Kidston is ideal. Made from eco-friendly biodegradable bamboo, it’s also good for the environment. The box comes with an elastic band to keep your food secure.

The plastic-free travel mug

Bodum Travel Mug, £18
This double-walled travel mug is perfect for on the go tea and coffee. Its sleek neutral design is complete with thermal technology meaning your favourite hot drink will stay the perfect temperature during your daily commute. If you’re a real coffee lover, there are even mugs that come complete with a coffee press.

The glass water bottle

ASOS Cactus glass water bottle with sleeve, £13
Why not switch your reusable plastic water bottle for a glass one? It’s eco-friendly and plastic-free, plus there’s no risk of smashing the bottle as it comes with a cactus design sleeve to protect the glass.