Have you ever stopped to think about how many daily items used are made of some type of plastic? Plastic is one of the most useful and pervasive substances in the world. But many people don’t realize the toxicity of such a widely-used product, and how it can adversely affect human health. Plastic is made from petroleum. Petroleum is one of the most in-demand commodities in the world, and also in very short reserve. Much controversy exists over the need for so much petroleum in a world where this resource is running scarce and costs so much to produce. Many other resources exist that can replace petroleum for many uses such as bio-fuels, corn, and hemp, just to name a few. Gasoline usage for automobiles aside, just by eliminating the use of plastics in your home, the number of barrels per day reduced in foreign oil importation is beyond enormous.
Here’s another thing to consider: the amount of plastic that ends up in landfills all over the world is truly inconceivable. Plastic is not biodegradable in the same sense that other biological resources are. Plastic is made from petroleum which is a heavily-refined and altered product, which scarcely resembles its natural counterpart. For years the recycling of plastic has continued to increase, but in actuality, recycling of such a volatile product does more harm than good due to seepage and contamination of natural resources such as soil and water. The plastic that continues to be placed in landfills is not only toxic and hazardous, but at some point we will run out of room for all this plastic that continues to need a place to be stored.
In a statement made by several dozen scientists including four from federal health agencies, one of the main ingredients in plastic known as BPA is an estrogen-like compound that is believed to be the culprit of various reproductive and other health issues. This chemical doesn’t stay bound in the plastic product; instead, it leeches into food and water, and even absorbs directly into human skin through topical contact. It is also believed that this substance is commonly found in our water, air, and food. BPA has been linked to the following health problems:
- Brain damage
- Abnormal sexual behavior
- Increased fat formation and risk of obesity
- Early puberty and disrupted reproductive cycles
Complete elimination of BPA from our environments is impossible. However, it is feasible to reduce it in many ways. Keep in mind that by avoiding these plastics, you are also increasing your protection from other dangerous chemicals as well. Here is a list of things you can avoid to limit your health risks:
1. Discard any plastic items in your household that can be done without.
2. Do not feed children or babies with containers, cups, etc. that are plastic. Replace with metal, glass, or wood.
3. Give children and babies alternative types of toys to play with – wood, fabric, etc. rather than plastic, whenever possible. If you are being very cautious, check fabrics around the house as well. Many of these are produced using a petrol-based chemical such as polyester (this includes blankets, clothing, stuffed animals, furniture coverings, outerwear such as coats & hats, etc.).
4. If using a microwave, do not cook with plastic containers.
5. Avoid plastic wrap and instead use wax paper, aluminum foil, or some other safe alternative.
6. Avoid using bottled water and filter your own through a reverse-osmosis filtering method.
7. Before having dental sealants applied to your teeth, check with your dentist to make sure the chemical being used does not contain BPA.
8. If you do use plastic containers, at the very least, remove any containers with the recycling label number 7 on the bottom. These varieties are most likely to contain the chemical BPA.
9. Replace any plastic dishes with glass, wood, or metal.
10. As much as possible, eliminate the use of canned foods in your home. Most canned-food containers are lined with some type of plastic coating inside.
11. Instead of using petroleum-based cleaners in the household such as laundry detergent, you will protect your family as well as limit the amount of oil imported into our country by purchasing non-petroleum based detergent. If just one bottle of non-petroleum based detergent is used in each house per year, the barrels of oil reduced is 11,000. Check labels and find out what you are purchasing. Nearly all publicly-traded detergent manufacturers produce their products with some type of petroleum.
Although the amount of dangerous chemicals used in products is staggering, each step taken toward eliminating such toxins from our environment is a good one. In our personal boycotts against substances that are harmful to us, we are also making an important statement for all human-kind to our leaders that we want to be heard and demand alternatives to the status quo. For more information about plastics and how you can make a difference, visit the following web sites: Real Skin Care, Alternative Monster, Organic Consumers Association.