Earlier this year I wrote about the potential harmful effects of melamine (in this post here), after having accidentally purchased some dishes made of melamine and investigating what exactly it was made out of. It set me off on a mission to find more sustainable and health-conscious options to use for dishware, especially for kiddos! Since then I’ve found several great options that I’ve had the opportunity to review and share with you all here… like Re-Play’s awesome recycled dishware (here), Oogaa’s adorable silicone dishware (here), and Kinderville’s unique snack and storage sets (here). Today, I’m going to be reviewing something pretty different… In this post, I’m going to review the pros and cons of Life Without Plastic’s kids’ stainless steel dishes set, and talk about the problem with plastic.
Life Without Plastic is a company dedicated to providing safe, sustainable products … specifically with a focus on them being created without plastic (hence the name 😉 ) The company goes to painstakingly great lengths to assure not only the quality of the products they create and promote, but that each of those products is sourced and manufactured in an environmentally-conscious way and with fair labor practices. You can read more about their commitment to upholding these values and standards here.
Before I go into the review, I’d like to touch on the topic of plastics. I think it’s mostly common knowledge now that many plastics can have harmful effects on you (and your children) and the environment. But just how bad are those effects?
The problem with plastic
Plastic is actually quite a wonder, it’s incredibly durable, essentially non-breakable, and can be very useful in many cases… quite frankly, it’s all around us. So, what’s the problem?
Well, not only can plastic itself be toxic when there is a chemical transaction with the food or water it’s containing, but the taxing effect it has on the environment and on our health through gaseous releases in the production process should be plenty to deter us from using too much of it. You can read more about the environmental impact of plastics here.
Not all plastics are created equally, as I’m sure you’re aware. Plastic bottles and food containers typically have a label somewhere on them indicating which type of plastic they are made of, usually denoted by a number between 1 & 7.
I’ve created a quick downloadable cheat sheet for you to reference which shows an at-a-glance of each type of plastic and a few facts about it. Download my Guide to Plastic Safety here.
I’ve found the reference sheet to be useful, especially when contemplating which plastic products (if any) myself and my family feel are acceptable for use. To be frank, there are Very few plastic products we use as we have replaced almost everything with either glass, fabric, stainless steel, bamboo, 100% silicone, or various other non-toxic alternatives, although admittedly, I do love a good piece of Tupperware! 😉
If I am considering a new piece of plastic-wear (whatever it may be… food container, toy, or shower curtain) I typically consider these three things:
- Will it be directly, physically toxic to our health (meaning will chemicals from the plastic leach into our food or other things we use).
- Will it be taxing to the environment (does the production of the product release more toxins than is worth it?)
- Is there a better (more sustainable, less toxic) alternative that we could use instead?
The down-low on bisphenol
You’re likely most familiar with bisphenol-A (or BPA), which has widely been linked to various health complications, including hormone disruption and reproductive disorders (infertility in males & miscarriages in females), thyroid hormone alteration, and generalized obesity & insulin resistance (<- just to name a few… here are a gazillion more linked studies for more than you ever wanted to know about BPA 😉 )
Unfortunately just because a product claims to be “BPA-Free” does not necessarily mean it is non-toxic. Many manufacturers are simply replacing the Bisphenol-A for equally-as-toxic Bisphenol-S (or other toxic members of the bisphenol family) giving the allusion of safety, but in fact, the risk is certainly still there. (source) That’s why it’s very important for you to know which type of plastic you’re using, and what potential it has to be toxic to your health.
Now for the review…
Review of Life Without Plastic’s 3-piece stainless steel dish set
Life Without Plastic sent us the 3-piece stainless steel dish set to try out. The set comes with a small (but generously sized) plate, a bowl, and a cup. When I first began pulling it out of the box to start tinkering with it, I was immediately struck by the quality of the stainless steel. These dishes are really unlike anything I’ve ever used before. Anything I’ve used that was a stainless steel in the past was somewhat flimsy and just didn’t seem like it was that awesome, really… the Life Without Plastic set on the other hand is thick and sturdy, yet lightweight enough for my kiddo to handle with ease. These pieces are made to last!
I particularly like the cup because of the shape. It comes in just a bit in the middle making it easy for my toddler to hold and manage. The cup and the bowl are both double-insulated to cool things cool and warm things warm! The plate is cool, it has a little bit of extra holding space flattened on two sides to make it easier for a child to carry around.
All the pieces are dishwasher safe (a Must in my book!), and so far have come out looking beautifully! The only thing I will mention, is that occasionally there can be streaks or smudges from water or fingerprints. I’ve not had any issues with this, they wipe off quickly and easily, but if you’re Type A like me, it may bother you a little on occasion. 😉 Otherwise, these pieces are absolutely stunning and sturdy… I’m pretty sure I’ll be passing these down to my grandkids one day way in the future!
They’d also be perfect for camping or a picnic because they’re lightweight for carrying and super durable.
Benefits of stainless steel
I really didn’t know much about stainless steel prior to doing this review, but will Seriously consider this as a long-term option for our everyday use after having used these pieces and really getting to see how quality they are.
I won’t go into all the in’s and out’s of the making of stainless steel, but will give you the gist… here’s what Life Without Plastic has to say about it:
“Technically, stainless steel is defined as a steel alloy with a minimum of 10.5 % chromium content by mass. As the name suggests, stainless steel is steel that should stain ‘less’ and not corrode (i.e., not rust). It should stain less, but it is not stain-proof. It is normally thought of as being corrosion-resistant, but given the wide range of grades of stainless steel, that is actually not a very useful defining characteristic, because it is the quality and grade of the stainless steel which determine its strength and corrosion resistance.
The base element in stainless steel is iron (Fe), and to this chromium (Cr) is added, which makes it into a corrosion-resistant alloy, an alloy being a mixture of metals. A small amount of carbon (C) is often included to increase hardness and strength. Nickel (Ni) may be added to stabilize the crystalline structure of the iron, and thus increase the integrity at all temperature extremes and to assist with corrosion-resistance. The crystal structure of iron makes the stainless steel non-magnetic and less brittle at low temperatures. Other alloying elements such as molybdenum (Mo) or titanium (Ti) may be added to improve heat- and corrosion-resistance properties.
One of the wonderful qualities of stainless steel is that it is self-repairing. The chromium, through a process called passivation, forms an invisible layer over the iron to protect it from air and water. If the surface is scratched, the layer quickly rebuilds itself in the presence of oxygen. This is why high quality stainless steel will not rust, even if it becomes scratched.
There are literally hundreds of types of stainless steel. For overviews of the numerous types of stainless steel, and explanations of the classification systems, you may wish to view the tables and other references here.”
I think a quality grade stainless steel is an excellent choice for sustainability and decreased toxic load, and honestly, this stuff will last forever! You can read more about stainless steel here.
The Life Without Plastic Shop
Life Without Plastic has more than just stainless steel dishes in their online store… they’ve built a one-stop shop for all things sustainable and non-toxic, to make it easier for you to find quality products that you can trust!
Here are some of the other cool and unique products in their shop that I personally love…
Hemp and organic cotton sandwich foldable bag/napkin (it’s a sandwich bag, no, it’s a napkin… NO, it’s BOTH!)
Stainless steel telescopic folding mug (<<– Perfect STOCKING STUFF Alert!)
Lavender dryer bag
They have all kinds of other fun and practical things, you should check out their online shop here or also many of their products are listed on Amazon here. And, be sure to follow them on facebook & twitter to keep up with all their sales and new products!