Do You Know Your Plastic?

Plastics are everywhere, but have you ever stopped to think how harmful they can be to you and the environment? We will never be able to completely rid ourselves of plastic, but we can minimize its effects by understanding which types are harmful and seek out easy-to-find alternatives.

Three Plastics to Avoid

#3 PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride)

This type of plastic is used to make toys, shower curtains, IV bags, medical tubes, vinyl flooring and wallpaper. Phthalates (also known as plasticizers) are added to soften PVC. Phthalates are also used to make solvents in shampoo, nail polish and hair spray. Research shows phthalates can leach out of these products and enter the human body, where they can cause endocrine disruption, reduced sperm counts, testicular atrophy and liver cancer.

#6 PS- ( Polystyrene)

Made of petroleum byproducts and is commonly used for meat trays, foam food containers and Styrofoam. PS can leach carcinogens and hormone disruptors, contributing to infertility and cancer, and its production requires carcinogens and ozone layer-depleting compounds. Because PC is so light and unsinkable (it’s 98% air) it is easily carried by wind an is a main component of marine debris.

#7 is the plastic code for “Other”

It comprises many plastics, but the most common type of #7 is polycarbonate with added bisphenol-A (BPA) used to make reusable food containers, CD’s, DVD’s, sunglasses, and car parts among other numerous products. Also used in the lining of canned food products, BPA has the potential to break down quickly when heated or washed with a strong detergent.

Easy Ways to Avoid Plastic

•    Try not to buy items in plastic packaging, and take your own cloth bag to the market.

•    Buy and store in glass containers

•    Avoid polycarbonate drinking bottles with BPA and aluminum bottles with liners containing BPA. ( BPA- free water bottles almost always say so on the label)

•    Most canned food liners contain BPA. Support the few companies that don’t use BPA, and contact canned food manufactures to let them know you won’t buy BPA-lined cans.

•    Don’t give plastic teethers or toys to infants and young children.

•    Avoid storing fatty foods such as meat and cheese. They are more likely to absorb leached chemicals in plastic.

•    NEVER heat food in plastic containers! A “microwavable” label on a plastic container only means it won’t melt, crack or fall apart.

•    If you do use plastic containers, don’t put them in the dishwasher. Hand-wash them gently with a nonabrasive soap.


One Response to “Do You Know Your Plastic?”
  1. Great article. I am always confused which numbers are friendly and which are not. Now I know exactly why they are bad – thank you for the article.

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