Plastic 101

In everything from our food –storage containers and shampoo bottles to our flooring and kids toys, plastic is pervasive. But with a few simple steps, you can get harmful plastics out of your life for good.

Three Plastics to Avoid

#3 PVC (polyvinyl chloride) 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 as solvents in shampoo, nail polish, and hair spray.

Research shows that phthalates can leach out of these products and enter the human body, where the can cause endocrine disruption, reduce sperm counts, testicular atrophy and liver cancer.

#6 PS (polystyrene) made of petroleum byproducts, is commonly used for meat trays, foam food containers and Styrofoam. PS can leach carcinogens and ozone ayer0depleteing compounds.

Because PS is so light and unsinkable (it’s 98 percent air), it is easily carried by wind and is a main component of marine debris.

#7 is the plastic code for “other” and comprises many plastics, but the most common type  #7 is polycarbonate with added bisphhenol-A (BPA), used to make reusable food containers, CD’s, DVD’s, sunglasses and car parts among numerous other 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.

8 Ways to Avoid Plastic

1.    Buy and store in glass containers

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

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

4.    Most canned food liners contain BPA. Support the few companies that don’t use BPA. And contact canned food manufacturers to let them know you won’t buy BPA-lined cans.

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

6.    Avoid storing fatty foods such as meat and cheese- more like to absorb leached chemicals in plastic.

7.    Never heat food in plastic containers. A “microwavable” label on a plastic container only means that it won’t melt, crack or fall apart, not that it’s safe for human health.

8.    If you use plastic containers, don’t put them in the dishwasher. Handwash them gently with nonabrasive soap.


One Response to “Plastic 101”
  1. CelloMom says:

    Minimise breathing in “new car smell”: not only in cars, but in many soft-plastic items such as rain boots. Trust your nose: if it smells bad, it’s probably not good for you.

Tell us what you're thinking...

Please share your thoughts and ideas with the Who's Green community.