Day 137 / 365

When it comes to ice cube trays, or products of any kind, there are numerous reasons why we ought to avoid plastic, silicone, and aluminium; especially when it comes to objects which contact our food.

For ice, it's not as bad as most the others, as most the health worries plastic, silicone, and aluminium have to offer us, happen in heat rather than cold. Either way, it is worth considering switching to something more sustainable and toxic-free next time you need to replace the problematic plastic ice trays we've all come accustomed to. 


THE PROBLEM WITH PLASTIC


Plastic is an oil derivative meaning it is made from non-renewable resources. In fact, around 4% of the world oil production is used to make plastics and a similar amount is consumed as energy in the process. There ton of different types of plastic, only three of which (to date) have been proven to contain chemicals that leech into your food (or ice) and cause cancers amongst other health harms. If you must use plastic food storage (which I don’t recommend) you should check the bottom of the container to make sure the number 2, 4, or 5 are listed. If another number is there, then it contains BPAs or other harmful chemicals which will cause you and your children a hole host of health pains (read more about them here).

To top off my petition against plastic, it's not as easy to recycle as you think. First of all, because each type of plastic requires a different type of recycling not all recycling centres even take all plastics. Second, even if it makes it to the recycling, the recycling process itself releases toxins and chemicals into the air. Third, it never biodegrades. It just breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces and finds itself in the stomachs of wildlife and fish slowly suffocating them to death and causing huge issues with our biosphere.


THE PROBLEM WITH SILICONE 


(from: Beth from My Plastic Free Life) "It is a man-made polymer, but instead of a carbon backbone like plastic, it has a backbone of silicon and oxygen. (Note that I’m using two different words here: silicone is the polymer and silicon, spelled without the “e” on the end, is an ingredient in silicone.) Silicon is an element found in silica, i.e., sand, one of the most common materials on earth. However, to make silicone, silicon is extracted from silica (it rarely exists by itself in nature) and passed through hydrocarbons to create a new polymer with an inorganic silicon-oxygen backbone and carbon-based side groups. What that means is that while the silicon might come from a relatively benign and plentiful resource like sand, the hydrocarbons in silicone come from fossil sources like petroleum and natural gas. So silicone is a kind of hybrid material.” 

Silicone lasts longer than plastic and doesn't break down into small pieces like plastic which is slightly better, but not best. It is not biodegradable either, which means once it is in existance it will always be. Like plastic, it is recyclable, but like (some) plastics, it is difficult to find plants which recycle silicone, so to ensure your silicone object doesn't end up in a landfill you've got to find a plant near you which does recycle it and bring it out there.


THE PROBLEM WITH ALUMINIUM


Aluminium is a product of open mining which is no bueno for the planet, the miners who extract it, or those communities living near the mines. It is also a concern because of aluminium toxicity leeching into your food and drink, like plastic and silicone, it's probably not the biggest concern with an ice tray, but the brain has a tough time excreting Aluminium either way. In fact, researchers found high concentrations of aluminium in the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s disease, blaming our industrialized world for the cause of it.  

The nice thing about aluminium is that it can be recycled and used for other objects which won't try to poison you, so might be best to send anything aluminium in your kitchen on its way to be given a new less harmful life. 

SUSTAINABLE SOLUTION


Stainless steel ice cube trays are the way forward ... they're also the way backwards as well as the original ice cube tray was made of stainless steel over 75 years ago in 1922 by a dude named Guy Tickham. Makes you wonder how we got so off track just to make our way back. It's the journey and the destination in this case.

Though stainless steel is also a product of open mining (which is not good), it does not leach into your food and continuously recyclable and long lasting. The idea behind this product is you buy it once and it lasts you your lifetime, meaning apart from theft or misplacement, you won't have to think (or read) about ice trays again ;)



WHERE TO BUY?

Photos: Food 52 & Pinterest
Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7