Plastics are everywhere these days. They hold our beverages, are wrapped around our meat and cheeses, contain our butter and yogurt, and comprise a great deal of the toys our kids play with. They are so commonplace that we rarely think of them at all. That is a mistake too many of us are guilty of. Why should we pay more attention to our use of plastics? One of the biggest reasons is that they are composed of harmful chemicals that can leach into our food and air. Many consist of phthalates, chemicals that soften plastics and makes them more flexible. They are often listed as DPB, BzBP, DEHP, or DMP on the ingredients list of products. Phthalates are thought to lead to reproductive issues and may cause cancer as well. If you are aiming for a healthier lifestyle, then cutting down on or eliminating plastics is a must.
The most important plastics to avoid are those labeled #3 and #7. #3 plastics are PVC's. They are found in pipes, shower curtain liners, toys, food wraps and bottles containing oils and dressings. Go to the website for Health, Environment and Justice for a more complete list of items that contain PVC. #7 plastics contain BPA, a chemical believed to cause endocrine issues, obesity and behavioral problems. The FDA has banned BPA in baby bottles and sippy cups. If the Food and Drug Administration is aware of the harmful effects these chemicals have on children, why allow them at all? Why risk out health? At the very least they could force manufacturers to label when BPA is used in a product.
The ideal thing is to phase out as much plastic as possible from our lives. Switch to ceramic or glass containers. Stainless steel is another good option. Ask for your meats and cheeses to be wrapped in paper. Transfer items wrapped in plastic to other containers as soon as possible. Never heat plastic or put hot food or beverages in it. Heat causes the chemicals to seep into your food. Do not reuse plastic water bottles or leave them sitting in the sun.
By reducing our use of plastics, not only will we be improving our health but we will also be helping the Earth. Plastics are made from petrochemicals which harm the environment when they are manufactured and also takes thousands of years to break down. We will all breathe easier when we make an effort to reduce the amount of plastics in our lives.