Why I Avoid Plastics

As you know, I have been more and more avoiding plastics. This started with food containers and is slowly spreading to more areas of my life. Along with plastics, all single-use disposables are becoming less attractive.

Why?

With regards to food and drink, it’s chemicals. They leach into what we eat and drink, and they affect us profoundly. BPA is a hormone disruptor: it was originally manufactured as synthetic estrogen, and then someone realized they could use it to make flexible plastic. I don’t take The Pill because I don’t want to mess with my hormones. And so I don’t eat or drink out of plastic. And I wouldn’t give my boy The Pill, so I don’t feed him out of plastic, either. (It turns out that many “BPA-free” products have higher estrogen-like properties than their BPA-filled counterparts, so “BPA-free” doesn’t necessarily mean “safe.”)

Beyond the dangers posed to my body, plastics do inordinate damage to the earth.

Everyone knows that plastics don’t biodegrade. This turns out to be partially incorrect. They do break down — fairly rapidly — in the ocean. In the ocean, where they release toxic chemicals and break down into small pieces. The fish absorb the chemicals, eat the pieces, and then we eat the fish. For a more detailed write-up of the decomposition of plastic in the ocean, click here.

(Bioplastics — plastics made from plants and other organic materials — once produced are chemically the same as petroleum-based plastic and do not break down. Also, containers that are part petroleum and part bioplastic are not recyclable. For a good read on bioplastics, click here.)

For plastics that don’t end up in the ocean, they fill landfills, litter our streets and parks. They kill wildlife.

We tend to forget about the other end of things, which causes just as much damage. Production. Oil needs to be extracted, processed, and shipped. The petroleum is added to whatever else is in the thing and turned into the thing in a factory. The results are shipped from the factory to wherever you obtain it. That’s a lot of effort.

This was going around Facebook (source) and summed it up well:

I started following My Plastic-Free Life and love it. Just as with many other things in my life, the more I read, the more it seeps into my consciousness, which makes it easier for me to make small changes. Small changes accumulate over time.

The Big Man and I ordered out the other night. In our order — dinner for two, no appetizers or desserts — there were 15 pieces of plastic, mostly single-use. (I count the bag as not single-use, but that was the only piece.) Multiply that by the number of dinners that night by the number of restaurants in that chain … And that’s just one restaurant.

This part of me continues to be slowly changing. I haven’t bought a stainless steel drinking straw yet, but I have stopped using straws when we eat out, and I have started declining a lid when I order a tea at a coffee shop (to be drunk in-house).

What are your thoughts on plastic?

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2 responses to this post.

  1. You already know I agree with you on this one. Petroleum is either an allergen or a toxin for my daughter. She had bone eaten away in her jaw several years ago on more than one occasion due to drinking out of plastics and I don’t go there. It is just as easy to use glass (when we go to the beach I bring a half gallon jug of water and a cup instead of plastic bottles. We also use metal bottles in instances where glass is unable to be used (such as school – although they DO allow her to use glass containers due to the allergy).

    One thing I’ve learned from all this is that it really isn’t great for anyone. The frustrating part is inspiring others and getting them to see the changes. It can be depressing watching no one give two shits about anyone but themselves and be too into “convenience” to give a crap about the research. It makes me want to scream sometimes.

  2. BPA is a huge problem because it increases estrogen levels in the body. People are unaware that leaving water bottles in the sun causes much more bpa to leak into their water. Another issue is when they bottles are transported they may be in heated places. Bpa is causing health problems in our culture.

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