Tomatoes - Canned Without BPAOn Friday, as I was sitting in front on my laptop wondering what challenge we should take on this week, I received an email from Healthy Child Healthy World entitled “Take the BPA Challenge”. It must be a sign!  Alright, maybe it’s just my own laziness.  Regardless, we decided to let someone else do the work for us this once and just sign up.

We have been following the buzz about BPA (Bisphenol A) for quite some time.  (If you’d like an introduction, check out this article in The Washington Post.)  We threw out all of our number 7 plastic just before our daughter was born.  Later that year, I decided to completely “de-plastic”.  I went on a rampage and threw out all of our Tupperware and plastic dishes.  I spent a small fortune on stainless steel alternatives.  When the goods arrived, we were broke, but happily BPA-free.

Of course, that was before I knew about the BPA in cans.  We try not to buy things with a lot of packaging, but there are a few canned staples we buy pretty much every week – mainly tuna, beans and tomato sauce.  I know that the beans we buy are packaged in BPA-free cans because Eden Foods rocks, but what about the others?

It has now been at least 2 years since our “de-plastic”-ing episode.  A few plastic items have slowly crept their way back into our home and I haven’t been too diligent at verifying that they are BPA-free.  As they say, there’s no time like the present.

Our Challenge

This week, there are just 2 simple steps.  First, we will sign up for the Breast Cancer Fund’s “Kick the Can” pledge.  Pretty simple so far.  Second, we will attempt to not purchase anything that contains BPA.  Maybe not so simple anymore, but we’re going to give it our best shot.  Stay tuned to find out how we do “kicking the can”.

Our Tale

With the help of a few excellent resources, we were able to successfully navigate away from the plethora of BPA-containing cans and plastics.  Here’s what we did.  As always, if you’d rather not read the play-by-play, feel free to skip to Our Findings for the results.

What contains BPA?

The real catch in avoiding BPA is that many things containing BPA are not required to be labeled as such.  In order to make sure we were thorough, we started the week investigating which of the things we use potentially contain BPA.  Here’s the list we came up with.

Plastics, especially those with recycling #7 on the bottom. This could include toys, cups, bottles, utensils, plastic wrap and packaging.  (For more information on BPA in plastics, check out this article from NOW Foods.)

Canned goods. Most cans contain BPA that leaches from plastic in their liners.  We are big consumers of canned tuna, beans and tomato sauce.

Receipts. This is one I’d never heard of.  According to Healthy Child, Healthy World, this is one of the sneakiest sources of BPA.  The average receipt contains 60 – 100 milligrams of BPA.  Those receipts often then get recycled into pizza boxes.  Who knew?

Ditching the BPA

Alright, now that we are educated on the causes, it’s time to figure out which of these are in our home.  Here’s how we did.

Plastics. My rampage from a couple of years ago left us in fairly good standing here.  We mostly use those stainless steel Klean Kanteen bottles for drinking water, so it was no problem to cut out the odd plastic bottle.  We also have a nine month old baby, but he refuses to drink from a bottle, so no problems there.  Our sippy cups are already stainless steel as well.  We do have a few (hundred) plastic toys, but after checking a few (hundred) labels, we’ve learned that those are all safe.

And then we have packaging.  It turns out that some disposable plastic containers and wraps contain trace amounts of BPA.  (Check out this article in Good Housekeeping for more information.)  We use plastic wrap for our leftovers quite regularly, so we needed to find a brand that was BPA-free and GoodGuide recommended.  We settled on Glad cling wrap because it is owned by The Clorox Company, which scores well in GoodGuide‘s environmental and societal categories.  For food storage bags, we decided to stay with Ziploc, since some of Glad’s bags do contain BPA.  Ziploc is owned by S.C. Johnson and Son Inc, which has just above average environmental and societal practices according to GoodGuide.  Still, we decided not to take chances on BPA when it comes to things that come into close contact with our food.

For packaging of our other grocery items, we were able to avoid plastic altogether, with the exception of those clear bags we use for produce.  In future, I think I am going to bring compostable bags for produce whenever I can.  It just seems like such a waste to have all of those bags lurking in our ecosystem for years to come.  Literally, our children’s children will still have those plastic bags intact in their landfills, but that’s a topic for another day.

Canned goods. I thought this was really going to be the tricky one to investigate; however, it turns out that pretty much all cans contain traces of BPA with the exception of a few select brands.  (Check out this great article from Treehugger for a short list of safe brands.  Anyone know of other brands?  If so, please leave us a comment on this post.)

The good news is that our measly 3 canned items are all available in BPA-free cans.  (Hoorah!)  Our much loved Eden Foods not only makes BPA-free beans, but also a delightful tomato sauce.  And both Oregon’s Choice and Wild Planet can their tunafish in BPA-free cans.  So, although we paid a little more for our groceries this week, we were able to avoid BPA in the canned foods we eat most often.

Receipts. This was a pretty simple one to avoid – for one week only.  As expected, we just said “no receipt” to the clerk at the grocery store checkout.  Admittedly, she did think this was a little odd, but we were able to escape BPA-free.  I like to review my grocery receipts when I get home, so I’m not certain how long I’ll be able to keep this one up.  For now, I’m ok with it.

Our Findings

Living Without BPA

The switch in brands for a couple of items ended up costing us an additional $4 this week.  The Eden Foods tomato sauce was twice as expensive as our usual brand, but worth every penny.  Other than $4, we didn’t have to part with much to go BPA free.

Keep in mind that my “de-plastic”-ing episode 2 years ago cost us more than $200 in stainless steel containers, so we are largely partaking in the fruits our previous spending.

The only thing I really missed this week were my receipts.  Only time will tell if I’ll be able to let go of my receipt-checking long term.

The Goodness

According to Healthy Child Healthy World, “A study from the Breast Cancer Fund and Silent Spring Institute published this spring found that when families ate fresh food—not canned or packaged in plastic—for three days, their BPA levels dropped an average of 60 percent.”  Since there are no labels to tell us when this harmful chemical is in our food, it’s up to us to find out and protect our loved ones.

BPA is likely just one of the chemicals in our environment that is causing cancer.  Still, by joining The Breast Cancer Fund in “kicking the can”, we are sending a message to companies that we want BPA out of our cans and our bodies.  It’s a start.  A very good start.



Interested in our other challenges? Check out The Goodness Challenge.

About the Author

Just a small town mom trying to make the world a better place for my kids. One small change at a time.

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