What is aluminum? Is it eco-friendly? Is it safe? Should we choose products made from it? That’s what this blog posts hopes to answer for you. As always, the answer is complicated.
Please note that I am not a health professional, scientist, or expert. Always seek professional help for your health concerns or questions.
What is it?
It’s a naturally occurring and very reactive metal that is found in the environment combined with other elements.
It’s used in everything from cookware to canned products, to some water bottles and consumer products.
✅ It’s infinitely recyclable and doesn’t become weaker over time.
✅ It’s the most valuable recyclable material that exists and apparently pays for its own recycling.
✅ An estimated 75% of aluminum produced in the US is still in use today.
✅ It’s lightweight, sturdy, and versatile.
❌ Aluminum cans and water bottles need to be coated with something—typically BPA (which is toxic.)
❌ Aluminum is considered toxic on its own, but it’s inconclusive whether or not it’s harmful in the ways consumers typically use it, such as in cookware and tin foil.
❌ Research shows cooking increases the aluminum concentrations in food.
♻️ Clean and reuse before recycling.
♻️ Rinse and wash if necessary.
♻️ Look up the rules in your city.
♻️ Collect small pieces and create a big ball.
Again, it depends on the use. I try to avoid unnecessary use, but I also recognize that aluminum has some excellent attributes as a material and I do typically prefer it to plastic.
Some further reading, if you’re interested:
- ATSDR. Toxic Substances Portal – Aluminum. https://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/phs/phs.asp?id=1076&tid=34
- The Aluminum Association. Recycling. https://www.aluminum.org/industries/production/recycling
- Katrin Klotz, Dr. rer. nat., Wobbeke Weistenhöfer, Dr. med., […], and Hans Drexler, Prof. Dr. med. (2017). The Health Effects of Aluminum Exposure. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5651828/