Do you remember that campaign “Plastic Makes it Possible” from the late 90’s? Well there was certainly a time and a place for plastic, but from my perspective, for much of our daily use that ship has sailed for many reasons and there is extensive research indicating that we should all make the switch to safer materials.
Environmentally speaking, the challenge is that plastics are artificial polymers that change in chemical composition when heated. This makes the process of turning them into another product (recycling) more challenging. Unlike metal and paper, which can be used again and again, plastic may get one additional life with proper recycling. The “Plastics Make It Possible” campaign has falsely given the public the perception that we can use plastic and not leave a toxic legacy for our children.
The environment aside, research suggests that all plastics leak chemicals when scratched or heated. Research also strongly suggests that at certain exposure levels, some of the chemicals in these products, such as bisphenol A (BPA), may cause cancer in people.
BPA-free products are all the rage right now, but I’m sure a lot of us have no clue why. BPA is a synthetic estrogen found in many plastic products, food and formula can linings, dental sealants and many other random places. Its estrogen-like activity makes it a hormone disruptor, like many other chemicals in plastics. Hormone disruptors can affect how estrogen and other hormones act in the body, by blocking them or mimicking them, which essentially throws off the body’s hormonal balance. Because estrogen can make hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer (my cancer and 80% of all breast cancers!) develop and grow, many women choose to limit their exposure to these chemicals that can act like estrogen.
My biggest piece of advice when evaluating your plastic usage in your life and household – try and eliminate as much as possible. Know that it’s a process and can be overwhelming…don’t try to do it over night. When you go to the grocery store, try and avoid individually wrapped foods as much as possible. Bring your own produce bags. Buy your milk in those cute glass bottles. When you get home from the store, remove all produce from the plastic containers they came in and store in glass containers. Just start to be more cognizant of how much plastic is out there…it’s actually shocking and I think just being aware of your consumption makes us better consumers.
With the “why” out of the way…here is the what. Below I’ve included some specific immediate changes you can make and some product recommendations:
- Carry your own glass, steel, or ceramic water bottle filled with filtered tap water.
- Reduce how much canned food you eat and how much canned formula your baby uses. When using these products, purchase brands that are labeled BPA free.
- Don’t cook food in plastic containers or use roasting/steaming bags; the plastic residue may leak into food when heated in a regular or microwave oven.
- Use glass, porcelain, enamel-covered metal, or stainless steel pots, pans, and containers for food and beverages whenever possible, especially if the food or drink is hot.
- Look closely at plastics with a number 7 recycling symbol on the bottom. If the plastic doesn’t also say “PLA” or have a leaf symbol on it, it may contain BPA.
- Plastics with recycling symbol 2, 4, and 5 are generally considered OK to use. Plastics with recycling symbol 7 are OK to use as long as they also say “PLA” or have a leaf symbol on them. The recycling symbol number is the code that shows what type of plastic was used to make the product.
Glass spray bottles (to make your own cleaning products): Empty Amber Glass Spray Bottles with Labels (2 Pack) – 16oz Refillable Container for Essential Oils, Cleaning Products, or Aromatherapy – Durable Black Trigger Sprayer w/ Mist and Stream Settings: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01G98Y1BA/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_fkXzCb9X4YHJS
Pyrex glass food storage: Pyrex Simply Store Glass Rectangular and Round Food Container Set (18-Piece, BPA-free) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0157G34AY/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_TmXzCbESV0RP1
Organic reusable food wrap: Organic Reusable Food Wraps by Etee – Biodegradable, Non-Toxic & Plastic Free (3 packs of 3 wraps – 9 wraps total) – Say Goodbye to Plastic https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0785SJS6D/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_9nXzCbZ2AYYR7
Reusable mesh produce bags: Brotrade Reusable Mesh Produce Bags Premium Washable Eco Friendly Bags with Tare Weight on Tags for Grocery Shopping Storage, Fruit, Vegetable, and Toys (Set of 12 PCS) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B072QY85XN/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_OoXzCbPFD2GZT
Reusable snack bags: Eco-Friendly Reusable Snack and Sandwich Bags – Zero Waste Designer Reusable Bags Set Includes 2 Large Reusable Sandwich Bags 1 Medium 1 Small Reusable Snack Bags | 4 PCS Reusable Lunch Bag Set https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07KVZGV3Z/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_kqXzCb1KHKJXH
Stainless steel straws: Amazer Stainless Steel Straws, 10.5 inches Reusable Drinking Straws for 20 or 30 oz Tumblers, Variety of Widths 3 Straight + 3 Bent + 6 Free Silicone Covers + 2 Free Brushes https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07CG3SSV8/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_wrXzCbDHHJSMK
Reusable grocery bags: Simple Ecology Organic Cotton Deluxe Reusable Grocery Shopping Bag with Bottle Sleeves – Natural 3 Pack (heavy duty, washable, durable handles, foldable, craft & gift bag, 6 bottle wine bag carrier) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B004V50P7S/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_wtXzCbFNPQRAB
Ceramic non-stick cookware set: GreenPan Lima Ceramic Non-Stick Cookware Set, 18pc https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07HKTD6D7/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_rvXzCbG734H9N
My intentions are never to scare anyone or shame anyone into changing their ways…my hope is that I am helping you create some healthy changes in your home. Changing to a greener and cleaner lifestyle can be time consuming, expensive and overwhelming. Do whatever works best for your family. As always, I am here to help with anything, so please don’t hesitate in asking questions in the comments section or emailing me. ‘Cado on!