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Plastic Vs. Glass Tupperware: Best Food Storage Practices
In 1946, Earl Silas Tupper came up with a brilliant idea. He invented plastic containers with airtight seals – known as “Tupperware” – to make food last longer and retain its taste. Any type of food could be placed in Tupperware and stored, but it was especially popular in the 1950s for storing bread, pastry and cake. Tupperware came as a God-send to families who were struggling financially in a post-war period; food was expensive, and many families could not afford refrigerators to maximise the shelf-life of their food.
Tupper’s inspiration for his idea came from the inverted rim on a can of paint. At first, sales were dismal, as the public did not understand how the product worked. Consequently, Tupper employed the brilliant saleswomen, Brownie Wise, to run “Tupperware” in-house marketing parties to show American women how Tupperware worked. Brown was extremely successful, and Tupperware sales boomed. Tupperware has now been going strong for over sixty years and continues to be the go-to container for food storage. Tupper’s invention was so successful that, nowadays, any type of plastic container is often referred to as “Tupperware”! In 2020, Tupperware sales boomed despite the Covid-19 pandemic, as more people were staying at home to eat, rather than dining out. There is no denying the benefits of Tupperware, but is plastic really the best material to store food in?
So, what are the benefits of plastic Tupperware?
Plastic Tupperware is lightweight, strong and less likely to break. Because of this, it is very popular in the homes of those with young families. Food can be stored safely, and it is less likely to be wasted as a result. In a world where approximately 1.3 billion tons of food is wasted each year, this goes a long way.
Is there a problem with plastic Tupperware?
Ultimately, yes. Despite the benefits of plastic Tupperware, plastic is a problematic material, with plastic pollution being one of the main threats to our planet’s future. That’s because it is not biodegradable, meaning that it does not rot. It can take hundreds of years to break down and leak nasty chemicals into the environment whilst it is sat in a landfill; plastic has been found to seep into the soil and infect our water supply and food chain as a result. The world is currently producing more plastic than is sustainable; we create 400 million tonnes of plastic a year and a shocking 40% of that plastic is used only one time before it is thrown away, a situation that has given rise to the term 'single-use plastic'.
The original Tupperware company is aware of the negative effects plastic can have on the environment. Despite being a producer of plastic Tupperware, they are trying to make their brand as sustainable as possible. For example, all of their products are designed to last a lifetime. But, they can also be recycled easily should you need to replace them, and many of their products have recycling codes printed on them to help recycling centres sort them.
The original Tupperware brand also ensures that the plastic used in their products is BPA free. BPA (Bisphenol A) is an industrial chemical that is used to harden plastics. Although invaluable to the plastics industry, BPA is banned in several countries because research has shown that the chemical can seep into food or liquids that are stored in plastic containers, with disastrous consequences. It is believed that BPA can affect brain development, children's behaviour, and decrease fertility. Research also suggests that there is a link between BPA and cancer. Whilst it's great that the Tupperware brand is BPA-free, many other plastic Tupperware manufacturers haven’t followed suit, which means that your plastic salad box is not only bad for the environment but potentially damaging to your health too.
With so much controversy around plastic, it’s no wonder that people have been looking for sustainable Tupperware alternatives. Glass is one such option, which we will investigate below.
Is glass Tupperware better than plastic Tupperware?
Although glass Tupperware is heavier and easier to break, overall it is the better choice. By using glass Tupperware, you can be certain that your food will not be contaminated by harmful chemicals. Glass is natural, sustainable, and recyclable. It is also more sanitary as it can withstand heat easier than plastic, meaning that it is easier to clean. Another recent innovation in the world of food storage includes beeswax wraps. These serve as an alternative to plastic cling film and can keep food fresh for days, making it the ideal thing to wrap your glass Tupperware in if you lose the lid!
Do glass containers keep food fresher for longer?
Glass is a non-porous material, which means that nothing, including bacteria, can get through it. This helps to keep food fresher for longer and, as food particles will not get trapped within the material, your food will taste better! It will not taste like plastic, or worse, taste like the food that was stored in the container previously! You won't get that horrible staining that occurs after one use with plastic containers either.
What is the safest food storage container?
It is very difficult to say what the safest food storage container is. Yet, in terms of environmental and health factors, it is safe to say that the best storage container will be a glass one! Well-known brands Pyrex and Glasslock are amongst the many brands that offer quality glass Tupperware products, but you can store food in an air-tight glass jar (as seen above) for a quick and cheap way to store, and transport, your lunch!
So, the next time that you're out and about shopping for Tupperware, think glass! Have you found a glass Tupperware brand that you particularly like, or found an even better, eco-friendly way to store your veggies? Let us know in the comments below!
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