Today I’m sharing three everyday plastic habits to kick to reduce the amount of plastics you consume and in turn, improve your health. If you didn’t jump on board the Plastic Free July movement, or you did and found yourself overwhelmed, this post is for you!
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Plastics are having a significant impact on our health.
Scientists are only starting to understand just what these impacts are, and the extent to which they’re impacting our health.
Plastics, and in particular endocrine disrupting chemicals that can be present in plastics such as phthalates and BPA, have been linked to a long list of diseases including diabetes, cancers, reproductive issues and even obesity.
Read this post (What You Need To Know About Plastics) to get your head around how plastics are impacting on our bodies.
Of course this is still a new area of science. Many more studies, particularly long term studies, need to be conducted.
In the meantime it’s always good to practice the precautionary principle. This involves erring on the side of caution.
Of course this doesn’t mean you need to get rid of plastics altogether, throw out your Tupperware collection and never buy a piece of LEGO again. But making some small changes to how you live and how you’re using plastics in your home will help reduce some of these impacts.
Here’s three easy things you can do right now to reduce the impact of plastics on your health.
1. Stop Heating Food in Plastic Containers
What we do know is that the toxins in plastic readily leach into food and the rate that they leach into foods increases when the plastic is warmed.
This could be a plastic water bottle that’s left out in the sun where the sun’s rays penetrate the plastic and heat the material. In the home this process typically happens when food is heated in a plastic container in the microwave.
To reduce or eliminate this risk, heat foods and drinks in containers made from china, glass or stainless steel instead. As for reheating food covered in plastic wrap in the microwave, only to have the plastic melt all over your food? Don’t even go there.
2. Reduce Your Seafood Consumption
Due to the microscopic size of much of the plastic in our oceans, it’s entering our diet at the very base of our food chain. Plankton are consuming microplastics. Small fish like sardines eat the plankton. Larger fish eat the sardines who in turn are eaten by larger fish again, like a tuna. And of course, we eat the tuna.
It’s not just the toxins within the plastic that are causing harm to marine life (and essentially us), it’s the toxins that adhere to the plastic.
Agricultural chemicals, effluent from industry, surface water runoff from our cities that contains gunk (how’s that for a scientific term!) from our roadways and drains…. It all goes somewhere and that’s our oceans. And toxins in these sources adhere to plastic particles, which act like a sponge.
So, if you’re keen to reduce toxins in your diet, a very obvious place to start is by significantly reducing your consumption of seafood.
3. Rather Than Plastic, Drink Out of a Glass or Stainless Steel Water Bottle
Even bottled water will have toxins leached from plastic containers in them. This not only can occur if you leave your bottle in the sunlight, it can happen before you purchase your water. Think of warehouses where bottled water is stored or deliveries to shops where the bottles sit on pellets on the footpath in the sun for hours waiting to be unloaded. During this time sunlight and heat can all promote the leaching of toxins.
Australians, and others in the Western World, love consuming bottled water. The average Australian drinks 14 litres of bottled water per year and discarded drink bottles account for 38 per cent of the total rubbish volume.
So making the change and using a resusable water bottle, such as one made from glass or stainless steel, will have such a positive impact on the environment and your health.
If you’re concerned about using a reusable drink bottle with tap water check out this 3-part Fluoride in Drinking Water Series.
It covers everything you need to know, including perspectives from a dentist and toxicologist, to help you make the right decision for you and your family.
By reducing your consumption of plastics and making the three changes above, you’ll be taking a step in the right direction to reduce the impact of plastics on your health.
If you’re keen to learn more about the impact of plastics in our environment and on our health, check out these other blog / podcast episodes: