Why going plastic free should matter to you

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I have been silent when it comes to posting pictures of what I eat daily because I have been focusing on living more intentionally without so much focus on social media and instead choosing to spend time with family, reading books, working on my cook book. I’m trying to declutter my space and my mind.

The process of decluttering has been such an eye opener. Its allowed me to figure out what truly matters. You see when you are so busy consuming, you are constantly bombarded by adverts and marketing schemes that tell you what you need to purchase, what you need to focus on. You never have a moment to determine that for yourself because we are obsessed with being busy.

So I took a step back and retreated to my own space and read books. Something so little yet, I have not been able to do this since I had kids. But I will not put the blame solely on them. I chose to use my time on things that at the time appeared to be reasonable distractions but instead were utter time wasters.

Anyway this past week I’ve been working with my kids and teaching them about our environment. I don’t know if you know this but kids ask the most amazing questions. They are simple but very important. One of the questions my kids kept on asking me is this, “Mom, if plastics are doing so much harm to the environment? why do we keep on making them? why do you keep on using them?” They are good questions, for which I had no good answer.

Thus began my own quest to discover ways to reduce the amount of plastic in my own life. I could not be able to tell them to be better stewards of the environment, when I myself was not doing much at home. Children learn from us,they watch us and I had to be a better example.

I remember starting a similar journey a few years ago. This one involved that things that I put in my hair. About 15 years ago I had decided I no longer wanted to relax my hair. Especially after learning about the dangers of the chemicals in the relaxers. I did my research so well and came to the conclusion that i’m not comfortable subjecting myself to the dangers.

A couple of years later I came to the same conclusion in regard to what I put on my skin. Especially my face. I  started to research more natural clean ingredients that I could use and I made the switch, which also included changing my diet.

So here I am again, questioning the role of plastic in our household? What impact is it having on us, on our health and our environment. I decided to take a closer look and the result left me floored. I felt a deep sense of shame and conviction. How was it that I decided to turn my back on such an important issue and ignore it as someone else’s problem ? I simply saw my plate as full..there are so many issues we tackle already…these are some of the excuses I told myself. Plastic seemed low on the list of priority. Until I realized that the impact it was having on my own health and possibly my own family. When something like this hits home, you simply cannot sit back and watch. You have to do your part.

Plastics are a part of our daily lives.Plastic litter is slowly taking over our oceans and landfills, and even ending up inside our food. Do you know about the dangers that plastic poses before it becomes litter? What about the various chemicals that can be found inside plastic bottles, bags and food containers that may be unleashing toxins into your food and beverages?

As scientists become more aware of chemicals that leech out of plastics and make their way into our bodies, they are uncovering a variety of health issues that result. This includes cancer, reproductive issues, immune system suppression and problems with childhood development just to name a few. We may have already decided that the pollution problems that plastic presents to our planet were reason enough to steer clear of the stuff, but the health problems that plastics can present appear to be an even greater reason to pursue a plastic-free lifestyle.

I took a closer look at the harmful effects of plastic and the biggest one for me was the impact it had on my health. I had not truly realized the impact it may already have had in particular on my reproductive system. One of the issues that affected my health especially when it comes to my reproductive system is Fibroids. For a long time I knew that there was a link between fibroids. An enlarged uterus and fibroids are common signs that a woman may be suffering from estrogen dominance. Fibroids grow in response to high levels of estrogen and in a few cases high progesterone. Frequent and heavy bleeding can be an indicator of elevated estrogen.Alternative practitioners have long suspected the estrogen/environmental link with fibroid growth and growing research continues to reinforce this theory. Hormone disrupting compounds are common in the environment contributing to uterine fibroids.

Bisphenol-A often goes by the more common acronym BPA and is quite the buzzword lately when it comes to chemicals in food and beverage packaging. BPA can be found in various polycarbonate plastic products including water bottles, baby bottles, and food storage containers. A study on several thousand Americans revealed BPA’s prevalence in the urine of most test subjects, suggesting BPA is found in nearly every person in the United States. Being as it acts as a synthetic estrogen, it can be highly disruptive to the human body when it leeches out of plastic. BPA has been tested on lab animals, resulting in fertility issues as well as changes to breast and prostate tissue. And while some institutions maintain that not enough about BPA is known to link it to a variety of human health risks, the chemical is increasingly associated with issues including its tendency to act as an endocrine disruptor, increased risk of breast and prostate cancer, changes to fetal brain development, and higher obesity levels in children.

Common toxins to be aware of:

Phthalates are chemicals that are added to make plastics more flexible. Phthalates are chemicals found in vinyl, soft plastic beverage bottles, plastic food storage containers, toys, plastic food wrap, cosmetics, and anything fragranced. High concentrations are found in artificial scents and most commercial perfumes. Like BPA, phthalates also function as an endocrine disruptor, altering the ability of the body to produce and maintain proper levels of hormones. Included in the various health risks associated with phthalates are asthma in children, lower IQ’s for a developing fetus, and ADHD. Phthalates have also been associated alongside BPA as a possible cause for infertility, especially for males attempting to conceive a child.

Styrene is a chemical found in Styrofoam, a type of plastic you can commonly find many places. Shipping material, fast food cups, and take-out containers are just a few common places you may come into contact with styrene. The chemical is prone to leach out when exposed to heat. So, your hot coffee in a Styrofoam cup or takeout Chinese food in the Styrofoam container may actually be a source of some unwanted chemicals. The health problems connected to styrene exposure are many and include respiratory problems memory and hearing loss, and increased risk for certain cancers including leukemia and lymphoma. Concerns over styrene have grown so strong in fact, that the state of California is officially recognizing the chemical as a carcinogen and is now debating how it may be labeled in order to inform the public of the associated risks. New York City has even banned sytrofoam to-go containers given their far-reaching harmful impact.

Chlorinated hydrocarbons are a group of chemicals that include pesticides such as DDT, solvents such as chloroform, polyvinyl chloride products, and others. The biggest exposure is through the diet.

WAYS TO USE LESS PLASTIC IN YOUR HOME

I’m slowly starting to clear my space of most of the plastic. I was so surprised to discover how much of our foods is provided in plastics. These are some of the little changes that I learned about and that i’m implementing myself.

1. Avoid buying items packaged in plastic. Look for produce and other items that aren’t over-packaged. Buy food in glass jars rather than plastic ones, and detergents in boxes rather than bottles. Not only are you reducing the plastic you use, you’re sending a powerful message to the makers of those products that you don’t like plastic packaging.

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2. Use cloth  or straw woven bags. Plastic bags are  are dangerous to  humans, animals and the environment. Keep reusable bags somewhere handy—in your car or your bike or by the front door—so you don’t forget them when you go to the market, grocery store or mall.

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3. Skip bottled water. Carry a reusable canteen. Plastic bottles are one of the top five most common types of litter found on beaches. Since bottled water is much more expensive than tap water, you’ll also save money doing this, and avoid the possible hazards of plastic toxins leaching into your beverage.

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4. Upcycle. Think of new uses for old items rather than discarding them or buying new ones.

5. Bring a reusable mug when you order coffee. Stow it on your desk, in your purse, car or bag so you have it on hand when you order or refill your drink.

6. Say “No straw, please.” Straws are one of the top 10 items found on beaches. In most cases, drinking out of a straw is simply unnecessary. If you do need a straw, you can get a reusable stainless steel or glass one.

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7.Avoid disposable tableware, or use the compostable kind. Try using washable and reusable cups, plates or utensils. When using compostable tableware, be aware they will not biodegrade in a landfill and must be disposed of in appropriate composting conditions.

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8. Don’t just discard electronics. Aim to repair or upgrade your devices instead of buying new ones. Sell gadgets and computer parts, or find a facility where you can turn them in for recycling.

9. Bring your own container for takeout and leftovers. When ordering takeout or bringing home leftovers, ask if you can get the food in your own reusable container.

Now you may be wondering what impact, one little thing you do will have when millions of others are not doing the same. The problem is bigger than one person. But I think that most us of can start with ourselves and it’s really important for each of us to look at our own personal plastic equipment and ask ourselves, “What am I doing to contribute to this problem and how can I stop that and start being part of the solution?”ut, taking your own bag with you to the store, taking your own containers to bulk bins and bringing your own bottle- if other people see you perform those actions, it becomes part of the norm.

pollution

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