The Trouble with Plastic
It’s BPA free, it’s totally safe right?! No, plastic, while convenient is still not the best choice. Now, I don’t say this to scare you because we do still use some plastic once in awhile because we have children and glass isn’t always ideal. But I’m going to give you some info on what to avoid, how to reduce your plastic use and why we should really cut back on the use of plastics.
Bisphenol-A (BPA) has received a lot of publicity for its impacts to human health and it has been removed from many plastic products. BPA is typically added to products to make them more durable and has a history of being given to animals like cows and chickens to fatten them up before slaughtering. Research has linked exposure to fertility problems, male impotence, heart disease, and other conditions. It is known to disrupt hormones and can mimic the effect of estrogen in the body, leading to weight gain and hormone imbalance. Plastics from food packaging can leach into food and enter the body. The CDC reports that over 92% of people who were tested had detectable levels of BPA and other plastic chemicals in their bodies. BPA free options are definitely a step in the right direction and if you are going to use plastic I’d urge you to make sure your plastic is BPA free but this is not where the issues end.
Phthalates in Plastic
Phthalates are a family of man-made chemical compounds used in the manufacturing of plastics, solvents, and personal care products. They are colorless, odorless, oily liquids that do not evaporate easily and do not chemically bind to the material they are added to.
Young children are more at risk from phthalates because of their developing, smaller body size and exposure to children’s products manufactured using multiple types of phthalate compounds. Young children use their mouths to explore, and consequently,
can be exposed to higher levels by sucking on products made of phthalate-containing plastics.
The 8 most widely used phthalate compounds and their metabolites are (source):
• BBP: butyl benzyl phthalate (LMW) *, **, ***
MBzP: mono benzyl phthalate
• DBP: di-n-butyl phthalate (LMW) *, **, ***
MBP: mono-n-butyl phthalate
MiBP: mono-isobutyl phthalate
Most common phthalate added to nail polish.
• DEHP: di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (HMW) *, **, ***
MEHP: mono-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate
Most widely-added phthalate to polyvinyl
chloride (PVC) to make products flexible.
• DEP: diethyl phthalate (LMW)
MEP: monoethyl phthalate
Most common phthalate added to personal
care products to enhance fragrance.
• DiDP: di-isodecyl phthalate (HMW) *, **, ***
• DiNP: di-isononyll phthalate (HMW) *, **, ***
Most common phthalate added as a softener
in the manufacture of toys and childcare
products, such as bath toys, drinking straws,
and rubber ducks.
• DnHP: di-n- hexyl phthalate *
• DnOP: di-n-octyl phthalate (LMW) **, ***
* Listed in California’s Proposition 65 as a reproductive and developmental toxicant.
** Listed in California’s AB1108 (Ma and Huffman). The bill, if passed, will ban use in the manufacture of any toy or childcare article intended for use by a child under three years of age.
*** European Union banned as a phthalate softener in the manufacture of toys and childcare articles.
They don’t list these on the plastic?
Then how will I know which products are safe?
Avoid products with the number 3 within the arrows and the letters “V” or “PVC” below the arrows.
Not only is the health of our families on the line but also the environment. A few days ago I shared this video and it was a real eye opener for me. More than 5 trillion plastic pieces weighing over 250,000 tons are afloat at sea.
Maybe you recycle your plastic, and that’s GREAT! But not everyone does and the pace at which we are using plastic is far exceeding the pace at which it can be recycled.
Plastic sacks from groceries and convenience stores are a huge contributor. Of the approximately 15 billion single-use plastic bags that Californians use each year, only about 3 percent are ultimately recycled.
Plastic water bottles are another big contributor to plastic waste and harm to our environment, read here for 15 ways plastic water bottles are destroying our environment.
So what are my alternatives?
There are so many options I couldn’t possibly list them all but here are a few of my favorites that we use in our own home! Most of these are for the kids as plastics plates, cups, silverware, etc. are traditionally used for kids for safety (glass plate to a tile floor anyone?).
Reusable bags (shameless plug for my fave stores)
Silicone baking cups for separating food in kiddos lunches
Stainless steel cups for the kids, stainless silverware, and silicone straws
Glass containers with silicone sleeves to prevent breaking
Reusable Sandwich bags, we also have some super handy zip up cloth snack bags
Reusable water bottles, I love Hydroflask the durability and convenience of these bottles keeping thingscold is amazing. My brother introduced us to this brand on our first trip to Hawaii and I’m hooked!
We used the Joovy Boob glass bottles for my daughter at daycare. The silicone sleeve (not pictured) was a huge comfort since babies are known to drop things!
I was introduced to Beeswax wrap through my subscription to Mighty Nest and it’s an amazing alternative to plastic wrap
Bamboo kids dishes are another must, you can snag these on Amazon
So I hope that helps you get started! Make your news years resolution to start swapping for better non-plastic options to protect yourself and the environment.
I’d love to see what else people are using to cut back on plastic waste. Leave me a comment below!