I hope you don’t put hot coffee or tea in your Starbucks travel mug.

Cheryl Palmer's chart to safe and dangerous plastics.

Makes sense, right? Why would Starbucks ever sell me a travel mug that can contain hot beverages? It’s not like Starbucks sells hot coffees and teas or anything.

And I always put cold beverages in my insulated travel mugs. Don’t you?

I fleetingly noticed, as I poured my hot tea into it, that my Starbucks travel mug was made of plastic number 7. And then I recalled this article I read a few months ago: “What do Those Numbers on the Bottom of Plastic Bottles Mean?,” by Cheryl Palmer.

“In regards to things you consume (eat, put in your mouth, etc.), stay away from ALL plastics with the numbers 3, 6 and 7 on the bottom. Look instead for the numbers 1, 2, 4 and 5. I’ve made [a] chart…to help remember,” Palmer says.

And don’t get me started on the fact that “some type 7 plastics may leach bisphenol A.” Bis-phenol A (BPA) is called “the poison plastic.”

So I guess from now on, I’ll just put iced tea or juice in my useless travel mug. Thanks a lot, Starbucks. I’ll be shopping for a safe plastic container now.

Got any poison mugs?

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  1. If you’re concerned, what you really want to do is get a stainless steel container. They’re generally more durable than plastic and if you get a thermos, they also insulate your beverage more effectively.

    Also, #6 is safe. An extensive “Harvard study reported that styrene is naturally present in foods such as strawberries, beef, and spices, and is naturally produced in the processing of foods such as wine and cheese. The study also reviewed all the published data on the quantity of styrene contributing to the diet due to migration of food packaging and disposable food contact articles, and concluded there is no cause for concern for the general public from exposure to styrene from foods or styrenic materials used in food-contact applications, such as polystyrene packaging and foodservice containers.” (http://dx.doi.org/10.1080%2F10937400252972162)

    That leaves only #3 and #7 to worry about.

    As for number #7 the jury is still out, but it indeed looks as if current safety standards for BPA leaching are not high enough. (Btw, the “poison plastic” link you posted talks about PVC not BPA)

    #3 is just a big mess in general, it has so many potentially sources of toxicity and not a single on of them has been conclusively studied. So this is one you do want to avoid. The problem is, it’s PVC, it’s everywhere. Even if you don’t use it for your foods/beverages at home, significant exposure to it is still impossible to avoid: Clothing, electric wiring, water pipes, gadgets, cleaning tools, glues, …

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