Plastic

Plastic has become ubiquitous in our modern society. The more we study plastic the more we discover the health problems it causes. Recently, the dangers of bisphenol A (BPA) finally started to gain mainstream acceptance. This resulted in a wave of new plastic products being marketed as "BPA-free." The problem is that BPA-free products can actually be more harmful to our health. This is because many plastic products marketed as BPA-free use BPA substitutes like BPS.

BPA and BPS fall under the category of endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs). These chemmicals can lead to cancer and a whole host of other health issues. BPA and BPS are just a couple of the EDCs that we know about. Plastic is difficult to avoid in our modern society, but it is important to do so as much as possible. For those times when you do choose the convenience of plastic over your health, choose plastics that are free of both BPA and BPS. A word of caution though. Don't just assume that because you use a product that claims to be BPA and BPS free that it's free of EDCs or other harmful chemicals. BPA and BPS are just two of the EDCs we know about. There could very well be other chemicals in "safe plastics" that are later discovered to be unsafe.

Calls to Action

Recycle all of your existing plastic bottles and food containers. Replace them with food-grade glass, ceramic, silicone, and non-coated stainless steel alternatives. Some good brands include: Lifefactory, Pyrex, and Klean Kanteen. Be careful with stainless steel products as some of them are coated with non-stick chemicals. For example, Zojirushi makes some excellent insulated mugs and bottles, but many of their products have a chemical non-stick coating. Opt for their products that use their SlickSteel® polishing method instead of a chemical coating. Also, remember to remove plastic lids from glass food containers when reheating your food.

Don't drink bottled water. I used to recommend drinking tap water instead for financial and environmental reasons, but there are just too many chemicals that our water treatment plants do not remove. Instead, drink filtered water that is filtered, at minimum, using reverse osmosis. Currently, my preferred way of doing this is by filling 1-gallon glass bottles at a local reverse osmosis water vending machine. These vending machines can sometimes be found at conventional grocery stores and can usually be found at Whole Foods Market. Some strip malls have standalone reverse osmosis water vending machines in their parking lots. The cost is typically $0.25 - $0.50 per gallon. A drawback of this method is that filled 1-gallon glass bottles may be too heavy for some people. Also, filling and storing a bunch of 1-gallon bottles may be cumbersome for larger households. The other alternative is to get a home reverse osmosis water filter. There are many under-sink reverse osmosis water filters as well as a countertop reverse osmosis water filter.

Bring reusable bags, containers, and utensils everywhere you go. The less plastic we use the less it is manufactured and released into our environment. It is not just the toxins that we come into obvious, direct contact with that affect our health. Remember, it is always better to reuse and reduce use than to recycle.