Glass, made from melted sand particles, has been used for centuries for a wide variety of applications. These range from vessels (like wine glasses, jars and dishes) to décor, design and even industrial uses. Glass is also used extensively in the medical and pharmaceutical fields.
Over the years, glass packaging has been replaced on a wide scale by plastic; which is lighter, more durable and cheaper. However, the benefits of glass far outweigh those presented by plastic, and should be considered very seriously, particularly by those with social, emotional or financial investments in the greenminded status of our planet.
One of the most significant advantages to the use of glass when compared to practically any other substance (wood or plastic, for example) is that glass can be cleaned thoroughly, restored to a completely sterile condition if washed in the appropriate temperature and with suitable detergents or chemicals. Its smooth, hard surface does not allow for bacteria to penetrate it or be absorbed, as is the case with so many other materials. The ability of glass to be made sterile means that it is the best option in environments in which such sterility is essential – such as in restaurants (drinking glasses, for example), medical and pharmaceutical fields.
Another major advantage that glass has over plastic is that glass is easily and widely recycled. In fact, some countries legally require it. It is more greenminded to recycle glass than plastic, since glass does not release harmful fumes into the atmosphere, damaging the air we breathe and the ozone layer. It is also more energy efficient to recycle glass than plastic.
Glass has no reaction with or effect on the substance it contains. This is very different to plastic, which can alter the properties of certain liquids due to the chemical reactions taking place over time, particularly if there is any sort of acid in the liquid.
In addition, glass maintains temperatures over longer periods of time than plastic. It does not shrink or expand enough to cause any negative effects on its contents, unlike plastic bottles. Glass ensures that its content stays warmer or cooler (whatever the case may be) for an extended period of time.
Plastics containing bisphenol-A (or BPA) have been proven to be very harmful to humans and their hormone levels. When these plastics are heated (in the dishwasher or microwave, for example), the BPA can seep out of the plastic and into the food or liquid it holds. This is dangerous for young and old alike. Glass containers, on the other hand, do not contain any such substances, and have no effect on the food they hold.
Other advantages to using glass include:
- Glass is versatile. It can be made into any shape, size, style, and colour, even transparent.
- Glass does not take on the odours of its contents once cleaned properly.
- Glass cannot rust.
- It is completely waterproof.