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I just finished reading Plastic Free by Beth Terry. Its an amazing book with a wealth of information on plastic, why it is best to go plastic free in our homes, and solutions to help you ditch the plastic!
Our homes are filled with plastic. From grocery bags and food packaging; cups, bowls, and food storage containers; and clothes, umbrellas, and shoes! It is everywhere. But why is plastic not good? Why should we avoid plastic in our lives?
WHY - Our Health
Plastics contain a bunch of additives including but not limited to: stabilizers, flame retardants, and plasticizers. These chemicals can leach out into our food and water and off gas into the air we breath. Some chemicals are carcinogenic or endocrine disruptors that act like hormones and affect our bodies negatively.
One of the common chemicals found in plastics is BPA. We have heard a lot about going BPA-FREE, especially for baby related bottles and sippy cups. But BPA isn’t limited to those items, it is in a lot more - such as metal food and beverage cans!.
And a recent study reported by the Breast Cancer Fund found that when families that normally ate canned and packaged foods switched to eating unpackaged whole foods, the levels of BPA and phthalate DEHP in their urine dropped by an average of 60 percent after only three days. (page 311)
WHY - Plastics Don’t Biodegrade
Yes, many plastics can be recycled. Down-cycled that is. A plastic water bottle won’t be recycled into a new plastic bottle, instead will be used to make polar fleece or carpet. Eventually, this plastic will no longer be recycled and end up in the landfill.
So why is plastic in the landfill a bad thing? Plastics are full of toxic chemicals that leach out into the environment. Landfills are usually lined with a plastic liner (I find this ironic) to contain everything, but those liners wearout and allow toxins to seep into the soil below and down to our waterways, which make it back to our drinking water - yuck!
And the plastics that escape our landfill find a home in our beautiful forests, lakes, and oceans. In our ocean, between California and Hawaii, is a large garbage patch twice the size of Texas of floating plastic particles. Birds and ocean animals mistake these plastics for food. They end up dying of starvation with bellies full of plastic. If that doesn’t happen, a larger fish may eat the smaller fish full of plastic and the plastic moves up the food chain and we end up eating fish that are full of toxic plastics.
To make it worse, plastic also attracts oils, so any other nasty fatty chemicals floating in the ocean bind to the plastic. So if you are eating fish, you may also be getting a serving of carcinogenic toxins along with your plastic seafood!
And since plastics never biodegrade, we are covering our precious earth in plastics with every purchase we make and when we toss them into the garbage or recycling. I don’t want to live in a plastic world, do you?
HOW - Plastic Free
Plastic is everywhere we look. To think about going plastic free is completely overwhelming. So here is my suggestion:
PICK ONE THING TO CHANGE AT A TIME
Don’t try to tackle all the plastic in your home, or even in one room of your home. Just pick one plastic thing to update in your home at a time. Here are some ideas:
- Water Bottles: Replace single use or reusable plastic ones with Stainless Steel
- Tupperware: If you still store leftovers in plastic, switch to Glass Containers
- Pots and Pans: If you cook with Teflon: switch to Stainless Steel
- Shaving: If you use a plastic razor, switch to a Safety Razor
- Food Packaging: Try to replace a packaged food. I now make my own bread!
- Take Out: Bring your own containers to restaurants for leftovers.
- School Supplies: Find plastic free binders, folders, and notebooks at guided.com
- Entertainment: Download music and movies instead of buying CDs and DVDs
- Grocery Shopping: Skip the plastic produce bags, Bring your own Reusable Bags
- Hair Care: Skip the liquid shampoo, switch to a Shampoo Bar
Also, when ordering items to be shipped to your home, request that the items be shipped in plastic free packaging!
There are so many ways to go plastic free. These are just a few ideas! To learn more about the harm of plastics and solutions to a plastic free life, check out Beth Terry’s Plastic Free book. Or visit her website: myplasticfreelife.com
The biggest lesson I have learned since I started my plastic-free journey is the joy of less.
I loved seeing this in Beth’s book. Once again, living with less - including plastic - can bring us an abundance of joy. It’s not about depriving ourselves, but living more, and having a life that follows our values and promotes a healthy lifestyle!