Flickr photo by megnificenceI'm sure Australian airline Qantas thought it was doing a good thing for the earth by reusing plastic cutlery 30 times before throwing it away, but here's a case where you shouldn't sacrifice safety for ecology.
We all do this. I routinely refill single-use water bottles for my kids. I'll wash out takeout containers for the next day's lunch. Lots of those things aren't recyclable, and I hate putting more waste into the landfill as much as the next person.
There are safety risks. I know, I know, chances are we'll all be fine ... maybe. Lots of plastic items, cutlery included, are developed for single-use, which means it will break down, degrade, leach, and act as a bacteria magnet if used more than one or a couple of times.
First, they may not be able to stand up to all foods, such as those with high acids or extremely hot temperatures, according to kitchen safety experts at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Whenever a product deteriorates, it opens the door for bacteria to get in and thrive.
With cutlery, there's the added chance of food particles and bacteria remaining in those little serrated parts of the knife and between the tines of the fork. And just think about those water bottles! It's impossible to clean the inside, so we give them a rinse with soap and water and hope for the best.
Yuck. Just go for the real deal, I mean, especially if you're going to clean them anyway! It's the same job!
Other single-use items you should not reuse:
- The tops of glass mason jars with cardboard/wax liners
- Wooden items like chopsticks, skewers, and popsicle sticks
Are you -- like me -- guilty of reusing takeout containers and cutlery over and over again?