How To | Family | Health

What The Numbers On Your Plastic Bottles Really Mean

If you made any kind of healthy resolution this year, you've probably been told over and over to drink more water. But do you know if the water bottle you're using is safe to refill?

The information is right there on the packaging, but it's not exactly straightforward. On the bottom of any plastic container you'll find a symbol that tells you what kind of plastic it's made from.

Even if you know where to look, what to look for can be confusing. What's the difference between high density polyethylene and low density polyethylene? All I want to do is take a drink of water!

Don't worry, we've made a guide to explain the differences between the most common types of plastic bottles and their impact on your health, so you can easily make a smarter choice.

1. PETE or PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate)

This is the most common type of plastic water bottle, but it's only meant to be used once. When you reuse a PETE bottle too many times the bottle gets worn out, and dangerous bacteria can grow in the scratches on your bottle. If you're refilling one of these bottles over and over again, consider buying a reusable bottle instead.

2. HDP or HDPE (High Density Polyethylene)

This plastic is usually used for milk jugs and detergent bottles, but it's also one of the safest materials you can make your water bottle from. It releases very little chemicals compared to other plastics, so one of these is a good replacement for your PETE bottle.

3. V or PVC (Vinyl)

PVC is mainly used for food wrap, kids toys and soap bottles, which is a good thing. This plastic contains a lot of dangerous materials, including phthalates, which can cause developmental problems and cancer.

4. LDPE (Low Density Polyethylene)

Plastic grocery bags and some squeezable bottles are made with this plastic, but mainly it's used in food packaging including juice and milk cartons. This is one of the safer plastics to use for food and beverages.

5. PP (Polypropylene)

Yogurt containers, ketchup bottles and medicine containers all use this fairly safe plastic.

6. PS (Polystyrene)

Your water bottle almost definitely doesn't use this plastic, but you should still avoid it at all costs. Styrofoam releases toxic, cancer-causing chemicals (especially when it's heated), it's not safe to reuse, plus it's a pain to recycle. Egg cartons, meat trays and disposable cups all use styrofoam, but you can easily find replacements made with safer materials.

7. Mixed

The danger of using products with a 7 symbol is you never really know what you're getting. Lots of toxic substances are mixed together with safer ones here, including bisphenol A (BPA), which can cause lots of different negative health effects including cancer. Steer clear of this symbol whenever you can.

So remember: products with the 2, 4 and 5 symbols are safe to use, and if you're eating or drinking out of that product you should always stick to these numbers.

Products that say 3, 6 and 7 should be avoided, and even regular plastic bottles that say 1 aren't as safe as they could be.

No matter what number you use, any water bottle that's been worn out isn't safe to reuse, so be sure to buy a new, safe bottle regularly.

Share this post to keep people safe from harmful plastics!

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