Men's Health, General, Women's Health | July 1, 2018 | Author: Naturopath
Single-use plastics, or disposable plastics, are designed to be used once then thrown away. These are items like plastic water bottles, cling wrap, plastic cups, straws and plastic bags. The common conception is that all these items are recyclable, but the unfortunate truth is that the majority of these end up in landfill. Plastic does not readily break-down in the soil and in doing so it releases toxic chemicals into our food and water supply. During plastic free July help make the switch to reusable items for the sake of our environment and our health.
Plastic has a devastating impact on our environment. It contributes to “plastic pollution” that has a negative impact on wildlife and their habitats. Animals, particularly marine wildlife can be harmed by becoming entangled in plastic objects or by exposure to chemicals within plastic. Plastics can also be used as vectors for chemical contaminants such as persistent organic pollutants and heavy metals.
Plastic straws, water and soft drink bottles, coffee cups and even cling wrap is manufactured for one use only before it is disposed of.
Some of these items are recycled but that still requires a great deal of energy to do.
Plastics are not meant to be a natural part of our lifestyle and for good reason. When we purchase foods wrapped or stored in plastic some of the chemicals are leached into the foods we then consume.
Bisphenol A—this chemical is a known endocrine disrupter that alters the function of the endocrine system by mimicking the role of hormones in the body. Bisphenol A, or BPA for short, is found in plastic bottles, tupperware and even in the lining of tinned products. The worst way to be exposed to BPA is consuming foods that have been heated in the plastic.
Phthalates—is a common ingredient that is added to PVC plastic’s such as cling wrap, bottles and the seals for screw cap jars. PVC on its own is a rigid plastic and in some cases plasticisers such as phthalates can make up 40% of ingredients because it adds flexibility to the final product. Some phthalates are known to be endocrine disrupters and pose the same risks as BPA exposure.
ESBO—added to PVC to stabilise and soften the plastic. ESBO is used for containers or packaging for food and if heated can form compounds called chlorohydrin’s which can increase risk of cancer and infertility.
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In an effort to preserve our environment and reduce the adverse impact of plastic on our health, big businesses, environmental groups and individuals are pushing for change.
During plastic free July the challenge is to go without single-use plastic items. Ideally for the whole month but even a few days or a week will make a difference. After making some changes you might realise how simple the switch is and want to continue. Here are some suggestions on what you can use as alternatives to disposable plastics.
If you regularly get a takeaway coffee, why not take your own stainless steel travel mug to use instead. This is much better for the environment by reducing unnecessary waste in landfill.
These items don’t leach toxic chemicals into the water and have a long lifespan—meaning you can re-use them for many years to come.
Reusable plastic or glass containers and food pouches are a great way to avoid plastic zip lock bags and glad wrap. However plastic containers can still pose a risk to your health, especially if you heat food with them in the microwave. Glass containers are the safest way to store, freeze and heat food without the risk of chemical exposure that you get from plastic.
Although these items are convenient for picnics or parties they significantly contribute to “plastic pollution” in our environment and usually end up in landfill. Avoid the single-use plastics which get thrown out and instead opt for re-usable plastic, stainless steel or melamine.
Many large companies are in the process of phasing out the use of plastic bags.
Usually these bags are made from a material or thicker plastic for durability and longevity.
While it might seem insignificant, plastic straws contribute to our plastic waste.
Avoid using plastic straws when at a café, bar or at home. If you can’t be converted away from using straws in drinks there are reusable stainless steel options available online.
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Pedersen GA, et al. Migration of epoxidized soybean oil (ESBO) and phthalates from twist closures into food and enforcement of the overall migration limit. Food Addit Contam Part A Chem Anal Control Expo Risk Assess. 2008 Apr;25(4):503-10