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Which Plastics are Best and Worst?


We all use plastics every day, and we’ve heard how some are bad, some are good, some are recyclable, some aren’t. How do we keep it all straight? There is a lot of information out there, but this this guide from Earth Easy is especially helpful in helping to decide which plastics to avoid.

If you’ve ever wondered what’s in your plastic and what it’s putting in you, I definitely recommend spending a few minutes reading through the information on that link.

Basically, this link says that if you’re going to use plastic, look for these numbers somewhere on the packaging: 2, 4 and 5.

OK: #2, #4, #5

BAD: #1, #3, #6, #7

The potential chemicals that may leach from the bad ones into your body and/or into a landfill make me wonder how its legal to make these products, but since I’m not the president I don’t get to make these decisions.


I honestly am sad that plastics were ever invented. Yes, I’ve made a living from paddling big hunks of colored plastic called kayaks, and yes, I’ve used my share of Nalgene water bottles while on my countless outdoor adventures.

I would take back all those incredible adventures if I could erase all the environmental disasters plastic has created since it was first created.

Huge plastic garbage patches in the ocean? Check.

garbage patch

Nasty chemicals that may cause cancer and early puberty? Check.



Animals dying in all kinds of horrendous ways? Check.

bird plastic
Photo by Seattle’s own Chris Jordan

Wars being fought for oil to make the materials? Check.

I mean, can it get any nastier?

My apologies for the rant, but this is one of the topics that really gets me going, if you haven’t noticed…

However, the cover and screen on my laptop are plastic, the travel water bottle I wrote about last weekend is plastic, my toothbrush-backpack clips-yogurt container-milk container lid are all plastic.

I don’t see myself going 100% plastic free any time soon, no matter how much I wish I could. But all the information out there tells me to keep working towards eliminating plastic from my life.

Don’t just go by what I say, check out these resources, then let me know what you think and what you’re doing to lessen the amount of plastic in your life.

Scientific American: learn how the scientific studies contradict the Food and Drug Administration regarding safe plastics. see the article I mentioned above regarding which plastics are better than others.

Center for Biological Diversity: learn how ocean animals are affected by plastic (did you know turtles often mistake floating plastic bags for jellyfish, one of their food sources?! Yu-uck).

How Stuff Works: learn how different plastics are made (and so many other things!).

United States Energy Information Administration: learn how much oil goes into plastics each year in the U.S.

Midway: AMAZING movie coming out this summer, made by a Seattleite!

Life Without Plastic




One thought on “Which Plastics are Best and Worst?

  1. Great to point out how petro chemicals are one of the primary ingredients in plastic. We use a lot of oil for fuel but plastics are all around us and this continues to lead to the extraction of oil from the earth, at ever increasing cost to the environment. Buying plastic water bottles destroys our planet both in the creation and the end product, refuse. It’s inexcusable and makes me as mad as you.

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