Plastic was first invented 150 years ago and has been prevalent in our society for a must shorter period of time. We didn’t buy plastic bottles of water or children toys 100 years ago. In that short time, plastic now fills the ocean and clogs the earth, but it isn’t just bad for the environment. Studies have also shown the detriment it can have on our health increasing the risk of disease for ourselves and our families. Such problems may shock you when you realize how much plastic is in your home.
Water bottles, food storage containers, vitamin bottles, electronics, office supplies, gardening tools and furniture, hygiene tools, baby toys and even clothes are all culprits of plastic. These items contain dangerous chemicals including vinyl chloride, dioxin, phthalates and styrene. Some of us are already familiar with BPA, Bisphenol A, a chemical used in the manufacturing of hard plastics. BPA is found in many plastic materials, even the linings of canned food, but many companies are phasing it out because it may cause hormonal disruption and other problems.
Some plastic toys and other products have other dangerous chemicals mixed in that we aren’t aware of. As soon as these products begin to degrade over time from use and heat, the chemicals break free, often into our food. That is why it is bad to microwave plastic food storage containers or reuse containers from food you buy in the supermarket such as yogurt containers. Avoiding these containers altogether is a better choice.
You should already know that plastic is dangerous for the environment. Our landfills are full of it, and animals are dying from it when they consume it or get caught in it. Plastic litters our streets now, with continued use, what will our world look like 100 years from now? Eliminating plastic from your lifestyle today can help future generations. Even if you start by only reducing the use of plastic and eliminating more over time, you can make a difference.
Look for products made from other materials such as stainless steel, glass and wood. Skip electronics and tools that are packaged in vacuum-packed plastic containers. Avoid anything with shrink wrap. Buy music and movies electronically instead of CDs and DVDs in cases and shrink wrap. Buy products in stores instead of online because many online distributors are now using air-filled plastic bags to cushion products that will inevitably be thrown in the trash.
Our grocery stores are full of plastic. Instead of buying prepackaged foods, buy fresh produce and meat. Go to your local butcher and ask that your meat be wrapped only in paper and not plastic. Buy reusable cotton produce bags to carry fresh produce in. Buy nuts, seeds, cereal, grains, dried fruit and other bulk items from bulk bins and bring your own glass jars or cotton bags. Opt for foods packaged in paper that you can recycle or compost. Bring your own cotton shopping bags and leave plastic behind.
Invest in a nice set of glass or stainless steel storage containers. If you don’t want to spend the extra money, save glass jars that mayonnaise, pickles, juice, nut butters and other foods come in and reuse them for food storage. These jars can also be used as drinking glasses. Store food in glass or stainless steel in the freezer as well, but make sure you leave enough space for expansion.
Glass Water Bottles
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(price as of Aug 4, 2013)
Plastic water bottles are a real problem. Water that isn’t bottled as spring water is usually the same as your tap water anyway, and plastic water bottles can be found littered all over the place. Even the manufacturing of plastic water bottles is bad for the environment and the health of those living nearby manufacturing plants. Install a filtration system on your faucet or install a whole house water filtration system. If you water is too poor in quality for a cheap filter, buy 3 to 5 gallon jugs of spring water sold in glass jugs that can be used in water coolers. Now they even sell ceramic water dispensers with wooden stands. If you’re lucky to have a spring near buy, bottle your own spring water in glass jugs and jars.
Cut out plastic hygiene items such as hand soap, body wash, shampoo and conditioner sold in plastic bottles. Use bars of soap and glass bottle products. Going for natural hygiene items is also a good idea because so many commercial shampoos and body washes contain chemicals that are bad for you. Such chemicals can be absorbed through your skin.
Clothing is a plastic culprit most people don’t think about. Synthetic fibers are often made of plastics which is why they commonly cause skin problems. Look for clothing that is made of natural fibers like cotton and wool. You don’t need to throw away all your clothes right now and start over. Just be mindful of future purchases and eventually plastic clothing will be phased out in your closets and drawers.
Go through your home and look for plastic. What can you replace? Buy notebooks and office supplies made from recycled paper instead of notebooks and binders made with plastic covers. Buy vitamins in glass bottles. Use paper tape instead of plastic tape for shipping and gift wrapping. You will be surprised at how many of the items of your home are made from plastic.
Getting rid of plastic isn’t easy. Some items will be very difficult to give up and throw away. Even if you can reduce the plastic in your home by 50 to 80%, and you can buy fewer items made from plastic by 90 to 100%, it can make a big difference on your health and the environment. Encouraging others to do the same thing will have an even bigger impact. Give gifts made from other materials such as glass baby bottles and wooden toys at baby showers and glass storage containers at bridal showers. You can get a plastic-free discussion going among friends and family who can learn the benefits of ridding there home from the chemical as well.
Stainless Steel Storage Containers
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(price as of Aug 4, 2013)