Why we need to go plastic free!
There’s been no shortage of information over the last few years about how plastic is destroying our environment. From slowly decaying plastic bags and their toxic chemicals seeping into our earth to the vast amounts of plastic polluting our oceans, the statistics are shocking and we are slowly waking up to its impact. Because of this, there has been a tremendous shift in awareness and as a society, we are slowly moving away from single-use plastic to more sustainable solutions.
But we still have a long way to go, and the effects of plastics on our health are just as worrying. Studies have found that certain chemicals in plastic leach into foods and drinks causing disruption to our endocrine system, hormones, and contributes to other serious health conditions such as infertility, cancer, and cognitive decline.
In our busy lives, where convenience often is more attractive, it is so easy to forget how harmful a substance it is.
When I used to work in the restaurant business and had an office job, I would always have a glass bottle on my desk. But now that I work from home most of my beverages come in plastic bottles.
I have started to make changes in my own life and have since purchased a good-quality water filter so that I don’t have to purchase bottled water.
But what about the plastics in food containers? Tinned food cans are lined with plastic, much of our supermarket food is packaged this way and of course, as I have mentioned, if you don’t want to drink tap water then most bottled water is in plastic.
So what are the plastics that cause health issues?
There are different plastics, used for different purposes which used long term can cause health issues:
(Bisphenol) is a chemical found in sports water bottles, canned food liners, baby bottles, and sippy cups. BPA is known as xenoestrogen which can wreak havoc with hormones. Xenoestrogen mimics oestrogen and will disrupt hormone function causing fertility issues, obesity, and certain cancers.
Polystyrene is used in disposable cups, takeaway, and food containers. Styrene and Benzene are the two chemicals found in polystyrene that are associated with liver damage and cancer.
Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) is used to make water bottles, all juice bottles, and certain food containers. Not as bad as BPA but still a hormone disruptor and given that a woman’s body is ruled by hormones, you want nothing that will cause a hormonal imbalance as this can lead to hormonal cancers. All bottles and containers made from PET should not be left under the sun or exposed to heat, as they become highly toxic.
Di-ethyhexyl adipate (DEHE) is found in fast food, cheese, and meat packaging. This type of plastic again disrupts hormones and is bad for the reproductive system and has been linked to asthma.
Polyvinyl chloride (PVA) is the plastic that is used to make cling film, margarine containers, and yoghurt pots. This type of plastic has been linked to cancer, skin diseases, liver, and digestive issues.
Ways you can reduce plastic to improve your health
The good news is, we can do something about this and cut down our plastic usage. Simple changes to lifestyle will go a long way to making a difference in your life, and they don’t have to be expensive.
Reusable water bottles and travel cups
There are so many reusable water bottles and travel cups available now. Choose an insulated stainless steel bottle, these are good for both hot and cold drinks.
If buying plastic products and there is no alternative, go for ones labeled BPA-free.
Instead of using plastic straws, choose reusable steel or bamboo straws.
Buy food packaged in tetra packs rather than tin cans. Tetra packs are not lined with the same harmful plastic.
Avoid plastic storage & wrapping for food & drink
Store all food in glass, ceramic or stainless steel containers.
Instead of buying packaged vegetables and fruits from supermarkets, go to your local greengrocer, farm shop, or local market. Or you can order a vegetable box from your local supplier.
Instead of using cling film you can use reusable beeswax wraps, these are available in health stores and online.
And on those occasions where you have no option other than a plastic water bottle, it’s important to never place plastic bottles under the sun and never use a plastic container to heat food in a microwave. Both can cause harmful chemicals to leach into your water or food even more.
I hope this article on Plastic and Your Health has been useful. If you know of any great plastic alternatives, then let me know. I am always looking for new and sustainable ways to improve my health and the environment.