Plastic is a dominant material in our modern world. While going entirely plastic-free may be nearly impossible (if you use a phone and a computer, for example), there are much more eco-friendly (and health-conscious) alternatives for the great majority of our plastic uses.
There are many environmental problems caused by our overuse of plastics. Our landfills are teeming with them, as are our oceans. Marine life suffers greatly from plastics, and depending on the type of plastic, numerous chemicals leach into our soil because of it.
Plastic can be very detrimental for human health, as well. One example is bisphenol A (BPA), labeled under recycling code ‘7.’ BPA has been linked to hormonal imbalances and organ damage, due to its mimicry of estrogen.
Because of the recent BPA outcry, it has been replaced by bisphenol S (BPS) in many children’s products and toys. Unfortunately, BPS has many of the same effects. Both BPA and BPS are easily released when a product containing them is heated.
Another harmful plastic type, when used in food storage, is polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which is labeled under recycling code ‘3.’ The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has linked long-term exposure to DEHA, a softener used in producing PVC, to liver damage, reduced bone mass and cancers, among other ailments.
Perhaps the scariest thing about plastics is that they contain innumerable chemicals that may be released into the environment and into our bodies, and the long-term effects of many of them are entirely unknown.
The following are a few ideas to significantly reduce plastic use around your home:
- Use glass whenever possible. Store your leftovers and bulk food items in glass mason jars.
- Carry your lunch (and pack your childrens’ lunch) in a paper bag or metal lunchbox, and bring your own metal utensils.
- Use wooden or metal cooking utensils, and stay away from non-stick pans (the coating is made out of plastic).
- Tote your coffee (or any beverage) in a stainless steel thermos.
- Bring your own bag with you for any kind of shopping. These do not take up much room, and hardly weigh anything.
- Skip the plastic produce bags, they are not necessary. When buying organic meats, have them wrapped in paper.
- Purchase laundry and dish detergents in cardboard boxes, or make your own. Soap berries are another great option to do your washing, and they are completely biodegradable.
- Use biodegradable garbage bags.
- If you need some of your clothing dry-cleaned, ask the dry cleaner not to use the plastic garment bag.
- Certain pens and office items are now made of corn-based materials.
- Stay away from processed foods and bottled water. This one is a no-brainer.
- What other ways can you think of to lead a (mostly) plastic-free life?
-The Alternative Daily