• DO check those numbered recycling triangles when you buy plastic. Safest are numbers 1, 2, 4, and 5—plastics used in most water, soft drink, milk, and juice containers, boil-in-bag pouches, yogurt containers, and margarine or butter tubs. Avoid numbers 3 (PVC), 6 (polystyrene), and 7 (polycarbonate).
  • DON’T microwave plastics not intended for such use. Many experts recommend avoiding using any kind of plastic in the microwave, even if it’s labeled microwave-safe. Heat further leaches chemicals from plastics.
  • DO try stainless-steel water bottles (available at some natural products stores or www.greenfeet.com) instead of Lexan (Nalgene) bottles made from PC. If you reuse single-use bottled-water containers, avoid washing them in the dishwasher—and let them dry thoroughly to get rid of lingering bacteria. Pouches for personal-hydration systems, such as Camelbak, are made from PET, which is considered safe.
  • DON’T keep store-bought cheeses, meats, or fish in the original cling wrap, which is likely to be PVC. At home, transfer to polyethylene cling wraps like Glad wrap, Ziploc bags, waxed paper, or glass containers.
  • DO consider PC-free baby bottles made from glass or polyethylene, or disposable nursers with PC-free throwaway liners. If you must use PC bottles, don’t use them to store breast milk or formula, and don’t overheat bottles filled with breast milk or formula. Look for toys and teethers marked “PVC-Free.”
  • DON’T put hot foods into plastic containers (including Styrofoam). Heat further leaches chemicals from plastics. Better yet, use glass containers.
  • DO reduce your plastic consumption. Simple ways include using a paper towel or ceramic plate instead of plastic wrap to cover food in the microwave; buying waxed-paper bags, available at natural products stores, for sandwiches and snacks; and purchasing foods in bulk, using your own reusable containers or bags.

—J.R.L.