Wednesday, October 16, 2019

GREEN LIVING :: Reducing Your Chemical Load- Plastics

I watched "Overload" over the weekend.  It's a documentary on Amazon about the chemical load we all carry.  The scary truth is that we are exposed to myriads of chemicals in our everyday lives.  Many of these have not been tested for safety.  We accumulate them in our bodies and can pass them on to our babies in utero through our blood supply.  The documentary shows you how you can reduce the levels of these chemicals but not remove them completely from your body in most cases by making life changes.

"Overload" got me thinking about our plastic use and I'm determined to make some changes.  It's not like we rely heavily on plastics don't get me wrong.  But we do have (or I do have) this dependency on Ziploc bags for lunches for instance.  We also still have plastic containers roaming around for food storage.  All these exposures add up so it's time for a change!
Why are plastics bad for you?  It has been shown that all plastics may leach chemicals if they're scratched or heated.   One of the most common chemicals we are exposed to daily in bisphenol A (BPA).  
BPA happens to be a hormone analog.  It works like the estrogen hormone in our bodies and therefore disrupts its function.  This throws off our hormonal balance and can also lead to unregulated growth of cells and possibly cancer in the breast for example since they depend on the estrogen hormone to begin with.  

How are we exposed to BPA and similar compounds?  BPA is found in canned foods, shatterproof plastic food and drink containers and thermal receipts.  BPA-free products are not necessarily safer because they can contain molecules that are just as harmful as BPA.  Your safest bet is therefore to avoid plastics as much as possible.  

How can you reduce your exposure to plastics?

- Avoid canned foods.  If fresh alternatives are not available, choose frozen produce over canned produce.  This one is tough with things like canned beans and chickpeas.  WholeFoods has a BPA-free paper package version but you get less product.  I haven't found a good alternative but I'm determined to make a change.  If you read the fine print on the cans, the ones I have either don't say anything about the components in the lining or say that the can's lining was made "without the intentional addition of BPA".  How vague can you be?

- Avoid clear, shatterproof plastic food and drink containers.  These are sometimes labeled with the recycling code 7.  If you have Littles at home, this is not totally doable or safe.  I do plan to replace though the plastic ice cream bowls we ended up using as fruit bowls because #kids.  

-  Avoid handling thermal receipts.  Do you have a habit of hanging onto receipts too?  I'm trying to train myself to ask for an email receipt or throw away the receipt.  
Avoid storing food in plastic containers or bags.  Don't microwave your lunch in a Ziploc container!  Ziploc bags are technically BPA and dioxin free but again that's not to say they have something else that mimics estrogen.  I'm a creature of habit!  Once I get a routine down, I find it hard to break.  But those Ziploc bags were starting to bother me!  

So that pretty much sums it up.  I'm realizing that this green living journey is a tough race.  It's hard to keep your guard up all the time!  I'm glad I'm finally tackling plastics.  

Have you made any changes to lower your chemical load lately?  Let me know in the comments below!

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