#9 Plastics

We are the first generation to be introduced to the new chemical onslaught from plastics. In so many ways, plastics have made our lives easier and in some cases even saved them, but not without consequence. Our bodies take in 210 mcg/day of a cancer-causing and hormone-disrupting chemicals called phthalates.  Phthalates are found in every soft and flexible plastic we use.  From plastic-wraps over our foods to the plastic soda and water bottles we drink from.3

Phthalates are used in plastics to make them more flexible, and science is not clear on what level of exposure is harmful since this chemical is so new.  Only a person’s body knows its own limits for this cancer-causing toxin.

Note on Safer Plastics:

If you turn a plastic container or bottle over, you will find a number ranging from 1 to 7.  This numbering system was originally developed by the Society of The Plastics Industry (SPI) to classify plastics for recycling purposes.  The system can be a little confusing because the higher the number on the plastic does not designate a safer bottle or product.  However, the numbers can help us select plastics that are somewhat safer.

For your purposes, plastics with the numbers 1, 2, 4, and 5 are your best bet.  Avoid plastics with numbers 3, 6, and 7.

Solutions:

Use glass for most of your storage. To minimize the big effects of plastic leaching, don’t place hot foods in tupperware containers or plastic bags.  Let the food cool down before storing.  Fatty and acidic foods should never be stored in plastic containers. Also, prolonged refrigeration storage in plastic isn’t a good idea.  Instead, you’re better off with leaving food on a glass plate or bowl and using saran wrap over it to minimize contact (preferably so that the plastic isn’t touching the food at all).

To store your food you can also use mason jars. If you don’t want to purchase these, just clean out emptied glass jars and reuse them for storage.  That way you’ll save money on containers and reduce waste.

Don’t stress over sandwich bags and short-term plastic storage. If you make sandwiches in the morning to eat for lunch, putting them in little plastic bags won’t place your food at much risk. You can find good baggies from www.naturalvalue.com or at natural foods stores.

Drinking filtered water instead of bottled water is a good solution. However, bottled water would be better

than tap water when away from home.  Remember to avoid plastics with numbers 3, 6 and 7. BPA free does not mean that is necessarily safe.

Stainless steel and glass bottles are the best two alternatives for your water. To easily save money, you can buy a glass bottle of iced tea (or any other beverage in a good glass bottle from gas stations or supermarkets) and reuse the bottle for water once emptied.



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