If you can do only one thing right now to minimise your exposure to scary-sounding chemicals, vow to switch to glass when heating food in the microwave. There are so many different kinds of plastic, it is confusing: some are relatively safe, while others contain toxic chemicals such as phthalates, styrene and bisphenol-A, or BPA. BPA, even at very low levels, has been found to affect the body's hormones and is linked to a variety of cancers, diabetes and the early onset of puberty.
For those who are sceptical, my home country of Canada was the first in the world to ban the use of BPA in baby bottles two years ago, a decision that was based on a review of 150 scientific studies. Other studies have shown that heating can further prompt the chemicals in plastic to leach into food and drink. It would have been nice to know this sooner, of course. I spent years making healthy soups and stews and carting them to work, wondering why if I left them in the microwave too long, the dishes sometimes melted too.
While I hope some day to have a plastic-free home, for now it's an ambitious proposition. Instead I have relegated plastic containers to carting lunch things to and fro and for storing leftovers and other items, keeping a glass dish at work and one handy at home for heating things up. Wellbeing Glass Lock is just one of the companies offering a variety of environmentally friendly versions in the UAE. A 950ml bowl is Dh22 at Abu Dhabi Co-operative Society.