Ditch Plastic Junk in 6 Steps
We need to ditch plastic junk! We’re living in a world of plastic: cups, bottles, plates, food packaging of every kind and when you stop to think about the amount of plastic that comes into our homes each week, it’s truly shocking. And it’s not only destroying the world’s ecosystem, it’s destroying our health, too.
In her recent article in Food Matters, Laurentine ten Bosch highlights how plastic pollution is detrimentally affecting our environment:
- Marine plastic pollution: Plastic impacts 267 species worldwide (86% of all sea turtle species, 44% of all seabird species, 43% of all marine mammal species) through ingestion, starvation, suffocation, infection, drowning and entanglement.
- Land pollution: Plastic littler block drains, trap birds, kills livestock, causes blockages in the storm-water system, leading to flooding and £££costly repairs.
- Air pollution: Creating plastic uses crude materials such as gas and oil, emitting harmful greenhouse gases that can have numerous adverse reactions.
- Human plastic pollution: ultimately, we humans are likely to ingest an approximate 11,000 pieces of plastic per year, just by consuming an average seafood.
But there’s one more, CRITICAL reason why we all (but particularly women) must ditch plastic junk… bisphenol A.
Bisphenol A (BPA)
BPA is found in polycarbonate plastic food and drink packaging and in the epoxy resins that line metal food and drink cans. It can rub off onto hands, leach into food and drink contents and is absorbed through the skin. It leaches into food when exposed to UV light, heat, acidic conditions and its structure breaks down when washed in harsh detergent. It’s also used as an additive in PVC plastics, CDs, mobile phone and computer casings, glasses, dental sealants, some medical devices, and used as a colour developer in thermal till receipts.
In June 2017, the European Food Safety Authority identified Bisphenol A as a substance of very high concern, causing probable serious effects to human health. Many companies have replaced BPA with ‘BPA-free’ bisphenol S (BPS), which was thought to be more resistant to leaching….. it turns out that BPS may be just as harmful!
Breast cancer: one in EIGHT women
Today, one in EIGHT women in the UK (and an increasing number of men) will receive a breast cancer diagnosis in their lifetime. One in FIVE will be under 50 years old. Over 55,000 people every year are diagnosed with breast cancer. This is an utterly alarming statistic for our health services and a distressing prospect for the many thousands of us who will succumb to this preventable disease and their (often young) families. Yes! The good news is that at least one in FOUR cases are preventable through lifestyle change!
As an Ambassador for Breast Cancer UK (an independent charity which researches and educates on the environmental causes of breast cancer and risk reduction), this issue is particularly dear to my heart.
Ditch plastic junk in 6 steps
Step 1: Use glass and metal storage containers
Ditch your plastic food storage containers and lunch boxes and use oven and freezer safe glass, unglazed earthenware, or metal containers (but avoid metal for storing acidic foods), which won’t leach harmful chemicals and a re-usable, so reduce toxic waste. I don’t use a microwave, but if you do then don’t use plastic microwave-able dishes and if you’re popping out for a takeaway meal (please try not to!) then take your own containers. Again, Google is your friend.
Step 2: Use environmentally- and people-friendly cups and water bottles
That bottle of ‘healthy’ mineral water from the store, or your expensive take-out coffee may be convenient, but it pollutes the environment and harms your health! Ditch the ‘single-use’ products and research the wide range of plastic free, non-toxic drinks containers and re-usable coffee cups appearing on the market, made from glass, stainless steel and even bamboo. Just make sure the lid is BPA free.
Step 3: Use beeswax wraps
Ditch cling-film and use reusable natural beeswax wraps – they’re great for packed lunches or for covering left-overs and you can wash them under the (cold!) tap when you need to. Google is your friend and you can make your own using a cotton sheet and parchment paper!
Step 4: Use recyclable or sustainably produced shopping bags
Google jute, cotton, canvas and string bags to minimise toxic load. Keep a supply by the front door (mine are in a funky wicker basket), or in your car.
Step 5: Shop for real food
Farm shops, farmers’ markets and online meat and veg suppliers can reduce your consumption and ingestion of plastics. Check out my blog on Affordable Real Food: How to Shop for It to save money and your health!
Step 6: Cook-from-scratch
Convenience and processed foods are serious environmental and health villains. Not only on account of the vast amount of toxin-leaching packaging they bring with them, but also because of the many chemical additives. The flavourings, colours, emulsifiers, texturants, preservatives and processing aids used to manufacture these foods (often not on the label) and the actual production processes themselves, all have a BIG impact on our gut microbiome, weight and general health.
Yep – ditching plastic junk is going to take a little thought, planning, preparation and organization – but trust me, do it and your purse, your body and this planet will thank you!
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By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail. – Benjamin Franklin