I’m pleased to feature Beth Terry of My Plastic-Free Life for today’s spring cleaning carnival. She is amazing in her commitment and her knowledge, as you’ll discover by the time you read her story below. Be sure to catch all the past topics and upcoming themes here.
My Plastic Story: From Addict to Activist
Before my awakening in 2007, I was a plastic addict. Requesting plastic grocery bags on purpose, buying a new plastic bottle of water at the gym every day, living on frozen plastic-packaged convenience foods and energy bars, I lived the modern plastic life. Until I didn’t.
In June of 2007, I stumbled across the article and the photo that would change my life. The article was Plastic Ocean, and the photo was of a dead albatross chick, it’s body full of everyday plastic pieces like bottles caps, cigarette lighters, even a toothbrush. And this animal lived nowhere near modern civilization but on Midway Atoll in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, thousands of miles from land. Stunned, I realized that my everyday actions could directly affect creatures I hadn’t even known existed. Suddenly, my life had to change.
I committed to living with as little plastic as possible and to research plastic-free alternatives. I created my blog, My Plastic-Free Life, as a way to keep myself on track and to record my discoveries. Each week (now, each month) I collect and tally my own plastic waste. In 2009, I generated just 3.7 pounds — 4% of the national average. And reducing my plastic consumption has not only made me feel better about my life; it’s made me happier as well.
When I started my blog, one of the rules I made for myself was not to buy any new plastic. But I also didn’t want to waste the plastic I already had. I continued to use plastic food containers, for example, because I figured as long as they were already in my kitchen, I might as well make use of them. I don’t do that anymore.
Plastic Food Containers: Not So Great, Actually.
So what’s wrong with eating and drinking from or storing food in plastic containers?
- BPA: Some plastics are made from toxic ingredients. For example, hard polycarbonate plastic (#7 plastic) (the kind that some baby bottles, reusable drinking bottles, and 5-gallon water bottles are made from) contain Bisphenol-A (BPA), which is an endocrine disruptor that builds up in our bodies over time. Low doses may cause chronic toxicity in humans, posing the highest risk to pregant women, infants, and young children. BPA can leach from plastics into the food and beverages we consume. Read more about BPA here. And also here.
- Phthalates: Phthalates are found in soft plastics like polyvinyl chloride (PVC, #3 plastic). Phthalates are used to make rigid plastics soft and pliable, and because they are not chemically bound to PVC, they can easily leach into food. Phthalates disrupt the endocrine system. They can cause harm to the reproductive systems of babies and children, and some studies also link phthalates to liver cancer. Read more about PVC/phthalates here.
- Antimony: Antimony is a catalyst used in making PET plastic (#1), the type of plastic that disposable water bottles and other beverage containers are made from. It’s not clear whether or not antimony poses cancer risks. But studies have found that the chemical may leach from the plastic. Read more about antimony in plastics here.
- Antibacterials: Recently, antibacterial additives were found to leach out of polypropylene plastic (PP #5) containers, the kind that most of our durable food storage containers are made from. Polypropylene has long been considered a safe, BPA-free plastic. And yet with this new discovery, it’s clear that all plastics can leach chemicals. Read more about antibacterial additives in “safe” plastics.
- NO Plastic is Safe: The conclusion is that as far as we know, no plastic is safe to eat or drink from. Consumers have no way of knowing what chemicals have been added to the plastics that contain our foods, beverages, or personal care products, because manufacturers are not required to disclose the chemicals they add to the plastics. Read more about organic food in plastic packaging here.
Think about it this way: Many of us buy organic food to ensure we are not ingesting toxic chemicals. And we demand that the label list all of the ingredients in our foods so we can make smarter choices. But there is no label for the chemicals in the plastic container that holds our organic food. How smart is that?
To Be Continued…Getting the Plastic Out
Today (Tuesday, coming soon!) at My Plastic-Free Life I’ll list steps for getting the plastic out of your kitchen, starting with baby steps you can take to avoid the worst plastics. I’ll be giving away a plastic-free baby bottle. I’ll also have a Linky up so you can add any plastic-related posts or articles that you want to share.
Katie’s entry is the Monday Mission this week, where she challenges readers to get into their plastics cupboards and make whatever changes they’re ready to make to evaluate and get rid of plastic storage containers. Don’t tell Beth Terry…but she still has a plastics cupboard. And plastic cutting boards. Seriously – don’t tell Beth. But DO visit her post for the practical steps that everybody loves, the giveaway opportunity, and the linky to join up or visit other people’s fascinating posts. Thanks for “cleaning” with us!
Next week we’re tackling another big health issue: white sugar. Join Donielle of Naturally Knocked Up and I as we look at ways to get the refined sugar out of your diet (even a little less would be great!). See all the upcoming themes (and try to guess what I’ve lined up as giveaways!) here.
GIVEAWAY: Two Stainless Steel Food Storage Containers from Life Without Plastic
I’ve had a good old time reviewing some stainless steel food storage containers from Life Without Plastic, a company that calls Beth Terry their hero! They are the answer to the “what do I pack a school lunch in?” question and have some other fun perks. Check out my review and enter the giveaway here. You can also get an entry for joining up in the carnival at My Plastic-Free Life today!
If you missed the last Monday Mission, click here.
See my full disclosure statement here.
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