No Plastic Tupperware: The Microplastic Issue

published on 11 February 2024

We can all agree that plastic tupperware raises concerns about microplastic contamination in our food.

The good news is, there are simple, affordable alternatives to replace plastic containers that keep your food fresh and chemical-free.

In this article, we'll break down the microplastic issue, evaluate the best non-toxic tupperware options made of glass, stainless steel and silicone, and provide tips to maximize their lifespan so you can confidently phase plastics out of your kitchen.

Introduction to Microplastics and Food Storage

Microplastics are tiny plastic particles that have become an increasing concern due to their potential effects on human health and the environment. As awareness grows around this issue, many people are looking for ways to reduce their exposure through the products they use every day - like food storage containers. Plastic Tupperware has been a kitchen staple for decades, but may contribute to microplastic contamination in a number of ways. This section provides background on what microplastics are, how they affect health, and the role Tupperware plays.

Understanding Microplastic Contamination

Microplastics are defined as plastic particles smaller than 5 mm in size. They enter the environment through fragmentation of larger plastic products or microbeads found in cosmetics and cleaning products. Over time these plastics break down into tiny particles that make their way into our waterways and food chain.

There are a few key types of microplastics:

  • Microbeads - manufactured plastic microspheres used in health and beauty products
  • Microfibers - shed from synthetic clothing during washing
  • Fragmented plastics - resulting from the breakdown of larger plastic products over time

Microplastics consumed by marine life can accumulate up the food chain, eventually reaching the fish and shellfish that humans eat.

Effects on Human Health from Microplastics

Research into the effects of microplastics on human health is still an emerging field. However, initial studies raise concerns over potential risks including:

  • Inflammation - plastic particles may cause inflammatory responses once inside the body
  • Cellular damage - microplastics could interfere with cell function and behavior
  • Toxin absorption - microplastics may absorb other toxins and transport them into bodily tissues

While more research is still needed, it's wise to limit exposure to these synthetic particles as a precautionary measure.

What can I use instead of Tupperware?

Plastic Tupperware containers are convenient for storing leftovers and transporting food, but they can leach harmful chemicals and contribute to the microplastics crisis. Thankfully, there are many safer, plastic-free alternatives to Tupperware available.

Glass Storage Containers

Glass storage containers are an excellent plastic-free option. Brands like Pyrex, Anchor Hocking, and Glasslock make glass containers in various shapes and sizes. Compared to plastic, glass is non-porous and does not transfer chemicals into food. Glass containers are also typically microwave, freezer, and oven safe up to high temperatures.

When choosing glass storage, opt for containers with plastic-free lids - some brands use plastic lids or plastic components that may leach chemicals. Borosilicate glass containers with glass or stainless steel lids are ideal for chemical-free food storage.

Stainless Steel Containers

Stainless steel containers are another inert and safe material for food storage. Containers from brands like Bentgo and LunchBots come in convenient, lightweight designs perfect for packing snacks and meals on-the-go.

Stainless steel offers excellent temperature retention to keep foods hot or cold. The material is very durable for frequent reuse. One downside is that stainless steel can be prone to dents and scratches over time.

Silicone Storage Bags

For food storage bags, silicone is a flexible plastic-free alternative to zipper bags. Brands like Stasher and Zip Top make reusable, non-toxic silicone bags that are impermeable to chemicals.

Silicone bags create an airtight seal to keep food fresh with less waste than disposable plastic bags. They withstand freezing and oven temperatures for versatile use.

Should I get rid of my plastic Tupperware?

While there is no definitive timeframe for replacing plastic containers, experts recommend tossing them out when visible signs of wear and tear appear. Chips, cracks, stains, and odors indicate that the plastic is breaking down and may leach chemicals into food over time.

When searching for plastic-free alternatives, prioritize materials like glass, stainless steel, and silicone. Brands like Weck, Le Parfait, Glasslock, and Stasher offer non-toxic, reusable options to store leftovers and meal prep.

Transitioning away from plastic Tupperware takes time. Start by using up what you already own and slowly integrating glass and stainless steel pieces into your kitchen. Here are some easy tips:

  • Use older plastic containers only for non-acidic, non-fatty foods like breads and veggies. Avoid tomato sauce, citrus, and oil-based foods.
  • Designate certain cups and lids for snacks like nuts and crackers, not acidic fruits.
  • Replace plastic bags with reusable silicone bags from brands like Stasher. They stand upright, freeze well, and contain no BPAs.
  • Purchase glass storage sets with plastic lids if you’re concerned about breakage. Anchor Hocking and Pyrex make great options.
  • Take inventory before your next no plastic tupperware purchase. What sizes do you reach for most? Which foods do you store often? Purchase accordingly.
  • Talk to family and friends about plastic awareness. Gift stainless steel bento boxes or glass storage sets for birthdays and holidays.

The key is to make slow, steady changes over time. Avoid tossing still-usable plastic until you have reusable replacements ready. With some planning, you can make the switch to non-toxic food storage.

Is glass Tupperware better than plastic Tupperware?

Glass containers have several advantages over plastic Tupperware when it comes to food storage:


  • Glass is nonporous and does not leach chemicals into food, unlike some types of plastic. This makes glass a safer choice.
  • Glass is also microwave and oven safe at higher temperatures than most plastics.


  • Glass is easily recyclable, whereas not all plastics are recyclable.
  • Glass is also more durable and reusable over many years, making it better for the environment long-term.


  • Glass allows you to easily see contents inside.
  • Glass keeps food fresh for longer than plastic by not retaining smells or stains.
  • Glass comes in convenient shapes and sizes for storage. Brands like Pyrex, Anchor Hocking, and Glasslock make excellent glass storageware.

So when choosing between plastic and glass Tupperware, glass is typically the better option for safety, environmental impact, and ease of use. The main downside is glass breaks if dropped, so plastic may be preferable if durability is a top concern. But overall, glass containers are an excellent plastic-free solution for food storage.

What is the safest material for food containers?

Glass is considered one of the safest materials for food storage containers. Unlike plastic, glass does not contain chemicals like BPA or phthalates that can leach into food and pose health risks.

Here are some key reasons why glass is the best choice for safe food storage:

  • Non-Toxic: Glass is an inert material that does not react with foods or release any chemicals. Food stored in glass maintains its original flavor and nutrients better than plastic.
  • Reusable: Properly cared for glass containers can be used over and over again for years with no degradation. This makes them very sustainable.
  • Microwave & Oven Safe: Glass containers with tempered glass and heat-resistant lids can safely go from freezer to oven to microwave. This makes glass very versatile for all types of food prep and storage.
  • Easy to Clean: Glass cleans up easily and does not absorb stains, odors or bacteria like plastic tends to. Soak in hot water and soap and containers look brand new.

When selecting glass food containers, look for ones clearly marked "tempered glass" and avoid thin cheap glass. Lids should have silicone seals to prevent leaking and be oven/microwave safe.

Some great brands of glass storage containers include Pyrex, Glasslock and Anchor Hocking. Pair glass containers with bamboo lids for a plastic-free option.


The Problem with Plastic Tupperware

Plastic Tupperware has become ubiquitous in modern kitchens due to its convenience and affordability. However, there are significant downsides to relying on plastic for food storage, especially given the growing understanding of microplastics and chemical contamination.

Microplastics: The Unseen Consequences of Wear and Tear

When plastic Tupperware is repeatedly used and washed, it slowly breaks down into tiny plastic particles over time. These microplastics make their way into the environment and can be inadvertently consumed. Studies have shown that microplastics accumulate in animals and humans, with potential health impacts that are still being uncovered by researchers.

Some key points about plastic Tupperware and microplastics:

  • Plastic polymers degrade every time containers are used and cleaned, accelerating the creation of microplastics
  • Billions of microplastic particles are released when plastic Tupperware is washed even with mild detergents
  • Tiny plastic particles have been found in many organisms and human tissues - from plankton to table salt to human placentas
  • Potential human health effects are still under study but may include inflammation, cellular damage, toxicity, and even cancer

By switching to non-plastic alternatives for food storage, individuals and families can drastically reduce their contribution to the microplastics problem.

Harmful Chemicals in Food Storage

In addition to creating microplastics, another major concern with plastic Tupperware is that chemicals can leach out of the plastic and into the contained food. BPA and phthalates are two common chemicals found in plastic food containers that have documented negative health effects.

Some key facts about chemical leaching from plastic Tupperware:

  • Heating and cooling cycles cause more BPA and phthalates to migrate into food over time
  • Acidic and fatty foods also draw out higher levels of chemicals from containers
  • BPA mimics estrogen and phthalates disrupt hormones - they have been linked to infertility, neurodevelopment issues, diabetes, cancer, and other conditions
  • BPA-free plastics often still contain phthalates or similar chemicals that may have comparable health effects

By switching to glass or stainless steel food containers, individuals can avoid exposing themselves and their families to these harmful chemicals that leach from plastic during everyday use.

Embracing Non-Toxic Food Storage Alternatives

Plastic Tupperware has become a staple in many households for storing leftovers and meal prepping. However, there are growing concerns over chemicals like BPA and plastic additives leaching into food, especially with repeated heating and microwaving. As research reveals the impacts of plastic on human health and the environment, it may be time to transition to safer, reusable alternatives for food storage.

Glass Food Storage Containers: A Clear Choice

Glass is an ideal material for food storage since it is nonporous and chemically inert. Popular brands of glass food containers include:

  • Weck Jars - German-made, reusable glass jars designed for canning and preserving food. They feature rubber gaskets and steel spring clamps for an airtight seal.
  • Le Parfait Jars - French Weck jar alternatives made of durable, thermal shock-resistant glass. Lids have a rubber seal and wire clamp.
  • Glasslock - American brand offering glass containers with plastic lids rated as BPA-free. Available in various shapes and sizes.

Glass allows you to clearly see contents and monitor food freshness. It withstands freezing, microwaving, and oven heating up to 572°F while preventing stain and odor absorption.

Stainless Steel: The Durable Non-Plastic Food Storage Solution

Stainless steel bento-style containers present a lightweight, reusable solution for storing and transporting meals. Brands like Bentgo and LunchBots offer compartmentalized stainless steel containers perfect for meal prepping healthy dishes.

Stainless steel does not leach chemicals, resists stains and odors, and stands up well to drops and dents. It is generally safe for the dishwasher, freezer and microwave.

Silicone Food Storage: Flexible and Non-Toxic

Silicone food storage bags like Stasher provide a nonporous, BPA-free alternative to plastic baggies. Silicone is heat-resistant up to 428°F, enabling freezer-to-microwave convenience. Stasher bags contain no PVCs, latex or plasticizers and come in pocket, sandwich and stand-up pouch sizes.

Silicone bags form an airtight seal to keep food fresh and collapse down for compact storage. They are reusable, lightweight and go right into boiling water or the oven up to 400°F.

The Best Non-Plastic Food Storage Containers on the Market

Here is a curated list of top-rated non-plastic food containers to embrace for safe, sustainable storage:

  • Glasslock 18-Piece Assorted Oven Safe Container Set - 4.5/5 stars with over 5,000 Amazon reviews
  • Weck Tulip Glass Jars Variety Pack - 4.8/5 stars, available in 7 oz to 1 liter sizes
  • Stainless Steel Bentgo Box - 4.7/5 stars, 5 compartment container keeps meals separated
  • Stasher Silicone Reusable Storage Bag Half Gallon - 4.8/5 stars, 19 x 15 inches, convenient stand-up style

When selecting non-plastic alternatives, prioritize nonporous materials like glass and stainless steel. Seek out brands that clearly label products BPA-free and avoid plastic components when possible. Read reviews and check that containers are freezer, microwave and dishwasher safe to suit your usage.

With quality reusable options abounding, transitioning away from plastic Tupperware is an important step towards preventing microplastic contamination and protecting health. Non-toxic materials like glass, silicone and stainless steel offer durable, safe solutions for responsible food storage.

Maximizing the Lifespan of Your Non-Plastic Containers

Cleaning and Maintenance of BPA-Free Storage Containers with Lids

Properly caring for your non-plastic food storage containers is key to maximizing their safety and lifespan. Here are some best practices:

  • Glass containers: Wash by hand or dishwasher using hot, soapy water. Avoid extreme temperature changes to prevent cracking. Store with lids off to prevent moisture and odor retention.
  • Silicone containers: Wash by hand or dishwasher and air dry thoroughly. Avoid abrasive sponges that could scratch surfaces. Do not store compressed with lids on.
  • Stainless steel containers: Wash by hand or dishwasher. Avoid steel wool scrubbers. Rinse and dry thoroughly to prevent corrosion.

Guidelines for Safe Reheating in Non-Toxic Containers

When reheating food stored in non-plastic containers, follow these microwave and oven guidelines:

  • Microwave: Most glass and all silicone containers are microwave-safe. Check manufacturer guidelines and avoid putting metal-lidded glass containers in the microwave. Use lower power settings and stir periodically to prevent uneven hot spots.
  • Oven: Any oven-safe glass baking dishes can be used, along with all metal and silicone bakeware. Avoid putting plastic containers of any kind in the oven. Monitor closely when reheating to prevent food from drying out or burning.

Pantry Organization with Large No-Plastic Tupperware

Large no-plastic food storage systems like glass Weck jars or Stasher bags allow for versatile pantry organization. Consider these tips:

  • Categorize by food type - grains, snacks, baking goods. Use labels.
  • Store heavier containers on lower shelves.
  • Consider installing slide-out shelves or racks for easy access.
  • Display in clear OXO canisters or glass jars with chalkboard labels.

Shopping for No-Plastic Tupperware in Bulk

Purchasing non-plastic tupperware in bulk multi-piece sets offers convenience and cost savings. Consider your usage - home or commercial kitchen, type of foods stored most - and storage space available when choosing quantities. Reputable brands like Glasslock, Le Parfait, and Weck offer bulk case options.

As awareness grows regarding the health and environmental impacts of plastic, more people are seeking out alternative materials for everyday items like Tupperware. The marketplace now offers a variety of non-plastic food storage options to meet this demand.

Finding the Best No-Plastic Tupperware on Amazon

When searching on Amazon, focus on customer reviews and ratings to gauge real-world performance. Sort by average customer rating to surface the most popular and effective products. Pay special attention to reviews from Verified Purchases to ensure authenticity. Cross-reference multiple listings to compare prices and specs. Stick to reputable, well-established brands with a track record of quality and safety.

Le Parfait Jars: A Stylish and Sustainable Choice

Le Parfait glass jars provide a timeless, versatile solution for plastic-free storage. Their classic French canning jar aesthetic lends elegance to any pantry. Borosilicate glass construction resists thermal shock, enabling freezer, oven, microwave, and dishwasher safety. Airtight rubber gaskets lock in freshness while BPA-free clasps keep contents secure. Le Parfait offers jar sizing options from 8 oz. to over 1 gallon. Durable, reusable, and endlessly recyclable, these jars check all the boxes for sustainable living.

Glasslock Containers: Secure Sealing for Freshness

Glasslock utilizes a unique press-to-release latch system on its borosilicate glass containers, creating an impenetrable seal. This ensures ingredients stay fresh in the fridge or freezer while also preventing leaks, spills, and contamination during transport or reheating. Users praise Glasslock’s durability and ease of use alongside its nonporous, nontoxic construction. Lids fit neatly for efficient stacking and cabinets storage. For those seeking a high-performance glass solution to single-use plastics, Glasslock delivers.

The Bigger Picture: Policy and Personal Action

Legislative Efforts to Combat Microplastic Pollution

Plastic pollution, especially from single-use plastics and microplastics, has become a growing environmental concern. Many governments around the world are starting to take legislative action to try to curb this problem.

Some efforts focus specifically on banning certain types of problematic plastics, like single-use plastic bags, straws, and styrofoam containers. For example, over 60 countries have bans on plastic bags in place. Other legislation sets plastic reduction targets or requires products to include labeling about plastic content or proper disposal.

More comprehensive policies aim to hold companies responsible for the lifecycle of their plastic products through extended producer responsibility laws. This helps incentivize companies to use safer, reusable, and recyclable materials in product and packaging design.

As public awareness grows, we may see more ambitious political goals around phasing out unnecessary plastics, transitioning to a circular economy model, investing in waste management infrastructure, and regulating allowable levels of microplastics in products. Political action and consumer pressure can work together to pave the way for a plastic-free future.

Consumer Education: Choosing Non-Toxic and BPA-Free Options

When selecting food storage containers, consumers should consider potential health risks from chemicals that can leach into food over time. Bisphenol-A (BPA) is an endocrine-disrupting chemical used to make some clear hard plastics, while phthalates are added to soft PVC plastics.

Exposure to these chemicals, especially during critical developmental periods, has been linked to adverse effects like infertility, neurodevelopmental issues, obesity, and cancer. Using BPA-free and non-toxic materials for food storage mitigates this risk.

Glass, stainless steel, and food-grade plastics labeled BPA-free or phthalate-free tend to be the safest options. However, the term BPA-free doesn't guarantee a product is harmless, as similar replacement chemicals may be used. Consumers should research containers carefully and aim for materials like glass or steel that don't require potentially problematic additives at all.

Retailers also have a responsibility to provide access to safe, sustainable choices to meet diverse consumer needs. Offering BPA-free and eco-friendly options makes it easier for shoppers to avoid plastics.

The Role of Retailers in Promoting Non-Plastic Food Storage

Retail stores play an influential role in shifting social norms and consumer behavior around single-use plastics. By prominently featuring reusable and plastic-free food storage options, retailers make these alternatives more visible, accessible, and mainstream.

Strategic placement of non-plastic containers throughout stores (rather than just in specialty green sections) exposes more shoppers to better choices and reminds them to consider sustainability. Retailers might also run promotional discounts on non-plastic options or offer product take-back programs for reuse/recycling.

Educational signage can describe the environmental impact of plastic waste and microplastics while highlighting the safety, durability, and style of alternative materials customers can select instead. Retailers might also pledge commitments to reducing plastic packaging in their own operations and supply chains.

With smart merchandising and customer engagement, retailers can shift social norms away from the excessive use of plastic for food storage and toward more sustainable solutions.

Conclusion: A Sustainable Future Without Microplastics

As we have seen, plastic Tupperware and other plastic food storage containers contribute significantly to the growing crisis of microplastic contamination. Tiny plastic particles from these containers can make their way into our food, air, and water, leading to concerning health impacts. However, the good news is that consumers have excellent alternatives for safe, reusable food storage options.

Switching to glass, stainless steel, or silicone food containers allows us to avoid plastic while keeping leftovers fresh. Brands like Weck, Le Parfait, Glasslock, and Stasher offer convenient, non-toxic replacements for plastic Tupperware. Beyond food storage, using non-plastic bags, straws, and other kitchen items also helps curb plastic waste.

Making these simple swaps in our homes protects our health and the planet's. If more consumers opt for plastic-free food storage, companies will respond with even more earth-friendly options. Collectively refusing single-use plastics pushes us toward a cleaner future free of microplastics. Our small daily choices to avoid plastic add up to massive change.

Rather than seeing plastic avoidance as limiting, embrace it as freeing. Non-plastic Tupperware options now offer just as much convenience without the worries over chemicals leaching into food. The prospect of less plastic flooding our landfills and oceans is undeniably exciting. We all win when we commit to plastic-free food storage.

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