Plastic is everywhere but how to mitigate it from our everyday life can be alot simpler then we think! The problem with using plastics in our home is that it leaches its properties into our food and liquid - placing extra pressure on our body to digest and remove its harmful presence. Research is now illustrating that plastics are linked to serious health implications: from hormone distributors, cancer, cognitive decline and even infertility.
WE need to change our daily habits! Not only does PLASTIC damage our health it has a greater impact on the environment: it takes 1000 years before most plastic decomposes in landfills! Once it is released into the environment, its toxic presence leaches into our soil, waterways and oceans. These leached micro-plastics then end up in our food - our soil is more depleted then ever - plastics are damaging biodiversity, killing off ecosystems and impacting our health.
Lets take a look at the plastics known to cause human health issues:
BPA (Bisphenol A) is a chemical found in polycarbonates, the plastic used for baby bottles & cups, sports water bottles and canned food liners. BPA is a xenoestrogen, a chemical that mimics oestrogen in the body and disrupts hormone function. Xenoestrogens have been implicated in hormone and fertility issues, the early onset of puberty, hyperactivity, obesity, diabetes, immune dysfunction and certain cancers.
PET (Polyethylene terephthalate) – this is the main plastic used for water bottles, soft drink and juice bottles, peanut butter containers, condiment and vegetable oil bottles. Even though it doesn’t contain BPA and is considered a “safe” plastic, PET is a known hormone disruptor and has been linked to stomach ulcers, diarrhoea and vomitting due to its antimony content. When sat on a shelf for too long or exposed to heat or sunshine, containers made from PET can leach a toxic metalloid called antimony into the food or liquid. This metal is very toxic to the body.
PVC (Polyvinyl chloride) is the plastic used to make cling film, squeeze bottles, yoghurt pots and margarine tubs. Production of PVC involves the use of three toxic chemicals: chlorine, dioxins and phthalates. PVC toxicity is associated with birth defects and genetic changes in cells, digestive and liver issues, stomach ulcers, skin diseases and cancer.
DEHA (Di-ethylhexyl adipate) is used in fast food, meat and cheese packaging. DEHA has been known to disrupt hormones and impact the reproductive system; it’s also been linked to asthma and developmental issues.
Polystyrene is used in Styrofoam food trays, egg cartons, takeaway food containers and disposable cups. Polystyrene contains two toxic chemicals called styrene and benzene which have been associated with cancer, nerve destruction and liver damage.When hot food or drinks are served in Styrofoam, the heat causes the material to break down into the food or liquid. These chemicals are absorbed into the bloodstream and tissues, often stored in body fat.
How to minimize your plastic use:
Use reusable beeswax wraps or vegan soy wax wraps as an alternative to plastic wrap/cling film.
Buy from local markets and farm shops instead of buying packaged fruits and vegetables from supermarkets.
Remove all household chemicals and make your own (see my green cleaning guide)
Use glass or stainless-steel containers, water bottles and jars.
Invest in a quality water filter.
Go shopping with reusable cotton canvas bags. Keep them handy!
Take your own reusable drinking cup to a café. Use reusable glass, steel or bamboo straws instead of plastic straws.
Washable wipes & Cloth nappies are much more environmentally friendly than disposable nappies which can take up to 500 years to decompose.
Switch your bathroom - supplies! Use washable make up pads & ditch the cotton tips (ear cleaning apparatuses).
Avoid using disposable cutlery, plates & cups!
Its a greater problem then we ever imagined.... but if we can all do our bit and teach our younger generation to be wise and less wasteful, we are helping to preserve our environments and have a greater impact on our health and wellness!