We are the first generation to be introduced to the new chemical onslaught from plastics. In so many ways, plastics have made our lives easier and in some cases even saved them, but not without consequence. Here are 10 top ways to avoid toxic plastics that are in out environment.
Two of the most common toxic chemicals found in plastic are Phthalates and BPA.
Our bodies take in 210 mcg/day of a cancer-causing and hormone-disrupting chemical called phthalates. Phthalates are found in every soft and flexible plastic we use; from plastic-wraps over our foods, to the plastic soda and water bottl
es we drink from.
These chemicals cause endocrine (hormone) disruption and cancer after prolonged exposure. Therefore, any exposure can accumulate in our body tissue, and eventually cause disease. The stockpiling of hormone disrupters starts in the womb. A study published in May 2005 in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives found that higher levels of phthalates exposure in pregnant mothers resulted in a greater danger to the reproductive organs of their unborn sons. That’s why it’s important to avoid toxic plastics such as Phthalates.
Bisphenol-A (BPA) is another compound that has gained much attention in recent years. BPA has been studied for its low-dose effect and its long-term consequences. Scientists recognize that this type of plastic causes disrupted cell function and cancer, even in extremely low dosages.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 95% of urine samples in a reference population of 394 adults in the U.S. had measurable levels of BPA.
Research done by the University of Missouri-Columbia found:
“When BPA in the low parts per trillion range is in contact with human or animal cells, it will alter cell function. The range of human exposure is a much as 100 to 1000 times higher than this.”
Ways to Reduce Your Exposure and Avoid Toxic Plastics
As the body of research illustrating the negative effects of plastic on our health continues to grow, there’s never been a better time to remove plastic from our homes, businesses, and our lives. Thankfully, a reduction in plastic use tends to be a by-product of a natural lifestyle and if done right you won’t have to work that hard to avoid toxic plastics – whether or not your initial aim was to do so. Start by removing and avoiding toxic plastics that contain phthalates and BPA. Here are some ways that we recommend you get started:
- Non-plastic dishes – Replace your plastic dishes with glass, bamboo or metal. If you have children, look for heavy duty options that aren’t so easily broken. Use glass bottles for babies like these, and convert your canning jars to sippy cups with cuppow. Plastic water bottles leach chemicals into your drinking water, so opt for glass or stainless steel cups. Phase out those plastic cooking utensils and switch to metal or bamboo (change to stainless steel, ceramic, or cast iron pans while you’re at it). Do you (or your kids) love straws? Try out these metal straws here.
- Upgrade Your Deodorant – Many deodorants contain hormone disruptors that can make their way into your body. Choose a salt deodorant like Crystal or try making your own.
- Essential Oils for Air Fresheners – According to the National Resources Defense Council, 12 out of 14 common air fresheners contained phthalates, even if they weren’t listed on the label. By utilizing a diffuser and any essential oil of your choosing, you will be avoiding phthalates, artificial fragrances, and other toxins while increasing positive biological activity from the essential oils. Some of our favorites to diffuse are lemon, lavender, peppermint, and frankincense.
- Preserve food in glass – BPA is commonly found in the lining of canned food. To avoid this, buy as much fresh produce as possible, soak and cook your own beans and legumes, and can your own vegetables. Storing and reheating your food in glass is another change we highly recommend. There are many glass containers with BPA free lids that are oven, freezer, and dishwasher safe.
- Vegetarian Capsules – Many supplements and vitamins have an outer coating that contains phthalates. Opt for a vegetarian capsule and choose a company who actively tests for such chemicals, like NuVision Excel supplements.
- Reusable Grocery Bags – This is a relatively easy fix. Simply bring your reusable bags to the stores with you. You may even save some money by doing so.
- Farmers Markets/CSAs – Buying direct from farmers is a great way to reduce your exposure to plastics. Find a farmers market near you here.
- Homemade detergents – Making your own laundry soap and dishwashing detergent takes minutes and is a great way to control what you’re exposed to. Alternatively, choose better quality detergents, like those from Seventh Generation.
- Plastic coffee makers or single cup machines like the Keurig – Running hot water through plastic while brewing coffee will make you a chemical-laden beverage. Instead use a French press or ceramic drip. I have a French press right at the office. It’s so easy to use! Another way this can happen is by going out for coffee and drinking it out of cheap Styrofoam or paper cups. Bring your own travel mug or keep one at your desk.
- Aluminum soda cans – You know you don’t want to drink that stuff anyway, but let’s say your enjoying sparkling water. The aluminum cans are usually lined with a BPA film. Choose a brand in a glass bottle, like Perrier.
It is nearly impossible to avoid all toxins. That is why its 100% necessary to mitigate any exposure that we can control and avoid toxic plastics altogether.
Do you have another way that you’ve found to avoid toxic plastics in your life? Post in the comments below to help others.