What is silicone?
We hear so much about silicone being better than plastic, but what is silicone?Silicone is a synthetic polymer made primarily of silicon, which is a made up of Earth's sand. It also has oxygen, and other elements (usually carbon and hydrogen). Unlike plastics, silicone is not made from petroleum based chemicals and can withstand high temperatures, has a low reactivity with chemicals, and repels water. It is easy to clean and a perfect alternative for cooking, especially in microwaves. Overall they are a better alternative to your standard plastic.
Plastic vs. Silicone
We all know that plastic is not good for our oceans. One of our first blog posts talks about the effect plastic is having on the sea life. There is so much plastic pollution that it has caused extreme danger to the sea animals. Plastic unfortunately, does not biodegrade quickly. As the plastic breaks down, its forms billions of micro fragments which litter our ocean.
Silicone is better than plastic in terms of resource extraction, but are still not biodegradable. However, they are safer for our oceans because they do not become micro plastic. Studies show that silicones have unique properties that enable them to thrive in harsh environments and thrive on challenges, including exposure to extreme heat, extreme cold, harsh chemicals, sterilization, rain, snow, salt spray, ultraviolet radiation, ozone, and acid rain, to name a few.
Silicone is more durable than plastic; simple as that. It can last for decades without any change to it unlike its plastic counterpart. Plastic can scratch, crack, melt and degrades faster than silicone. If you think about all the silicone cookware out today versus the plastic cookware, you definitely get more usage out of silicone products. With silicone lids, like with our snack containers, it is also a great leak proof option. With silicone products you can feel comfortable knowing they will last you years on end without having to replace them so often.
Silicone is relatively safe compared to its plastic counterpart. We all know by now that many plastic companies now label themselves as BPA (Bisphenol A) free. What some may not be aware of is the fact that the BPA free containers are replaced with BPS (bisphenol substitute) which is said to be worse than BPA.
When choosing silicone products, you want to choose those that are a high quality food grade silicone. This means that they are less likely to contain chemicals or toxins that could leach into your food. Unlike plastic, silicone is made up of inert sand and oxygen. Plastic is made up of petroleum filled chemicals that mimic estrogen.
Both silicone and plastic are recyclable and can be recycled over and over, but they have their differences. Not all silicone or plastic can be recycled at your local center, so for curbside recycling it is best to give your recycling center a call to see what is accepted and what is not.
Plastic and silicone are definitely not equal when it comes to their care. Plastic is not heat safe; meaning it should not be used in the microwave, dishwasher or oven. If using, plastic should be hand washed only. Silicone on the other hand can withstand high heat as well as super cold temperatures. As a result, it is okay to be used in the microwave, on the stove, in the dishwasher and even in the freezer.
Silicone is essentially better for the environment than plastic. It lives up to the food safety standards, wont disintegrate into micro fragments in our oceans and does not contain the same harmful chemicals that plastics contain. Using silicone in place of plastic reduces our huge dependency on plastic and reduces the amount of plastic found in our oceans and landfills.
So is it better?
Short answer is yes. Silicone is better for the environment than its plastic counterpart. However, we understand that we cannot get rid of Plastic completely due to their versatile usage. Hence, Silicone is best used for things that you would otherwise need to use plastic for. For all other things, use better alternatives like stainless steel, bamboo, wood, copper, cotton, etc.
Do you know more about this topic? We would love to hear!