This year has been a year of decluttering, simplifying, and going green, and as a result, I had some surprising farewells in my life. This was done all in the name of staying emotionally and physically healthy. I started with common items that were inevitably negatively affecting my health.
The first to go? Plastic. Well, not all plastic. In this day and age, that would be nearly impossible; however, my little family and I have raised our consciousness and awareness about all the plastic we’ve been using that could be negatively affecting our health, and sadly, our planet too. Due to their ubiquitous existence, I didn’t quite make a connection that plastic was damaging my health and the health of my little ones.
Recently, I learned of plastic being leached in food and liquid by containers or packages, and how a major chemical in plastic (and canned foods) acts as a synthetic estrogen, which is linked to higher risks of cancers, most notably breast cancer. I was surprised to discover just how potentially harmful plastic can be in addition to being carcinogenic (cancer causing), which this article explains in greater detail.
To summarize, plastic is posing a serious threat to the environment and to our health in direct and indirect ways. Exposure to harmful chemicals from plastics “are linked with severe adverse health outcomes such as cancers, birth defects, impaired immunity, endocrine disruption, developmental and reproductive effects etc.”
Phthalates or phthalate esters are common substances added to plastics to increase their flexibility. Adverse effects linked to phthalate exposure, include adiposity and insulin resistance (associated with diabetes, polycystic ovarian syndrome) with significant effects on the metabolic, endocrine, and reproductive systems.
Whether it is your goal to stay healthy or you have an illness, such as diabetes, PCOS, autoimmune disease, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, cancer, or other chronic illness, it is best to say farewell to plastic.
“No straw, please.” We started small, like no more straws. Since when did this straw craze begin anyway? It is completely unnecessary. And even worse, it prematurely gives you those fine lines around the lips. No, thank you. So, get in the habit of saying “No straw, please” every time you go out to eat.
o Helpful Hint: The server will likely give you a strange look. If they didn’t, then they likely didn’t hear you, so be sure to repeat your preference. If you really want a straw, there are lots of non-plastic options available, and then you can carry your own straw with you wherever you go.
Plastic Bags. I live in Houston, a city that has yet to ban use of thin plastic bags, but cities across the country and many countries across the world have banned these plastic bags. The litter associated with these plastic bags is monumental, and sadly, with all plastics, it can take 100 to 1,000 years to degrade, all the while, polluting the surrounding areas of the landfills and oceans with harmful toxins.
o Helpful Hint: Keep extra grocery and retail bags in your car, so you will have them with you at all times. You may also recycle all those dozens (or hundreds) of unused plastic grocery bags. Many HEBs have recycling bins specifically for plastic bags.
o One more thing. Send your kiddos off to school with their lunch sandwiches wrapped in re-usable beeswax wrap.
Water bottles. Juice & sports drink bottles too. All of them. With every sip, our bodies are flooded with harmful chemicals, especially when the bottle has been heated, and in the Texas heat, that’s almost always.
o Helpful Hint: This is a relatively easy fix. Use glass. I like Life Factory. Also, many stores sell water in glass containers, so when you need bottled water for convenience, choose glass over plastic.
Plastic Containers. Nearly everything our food is stored in is plastic (or cans – equally terrible), so toxins are leached into the food and into our bodies with each bite we take. What’s worse? Heating in plastic, like warming food up in the microwave while the food is in a plastic container and covered with Saran wrap. Toxic overload!
o Helpful Hint: Buy glass containers to store food and beverages. Heat food in the oven instead of the microwave. Reheat food in the oven too.
Other items to consider when it comes to plastics: toys, pacifiers and baby bottles, but really, the list is nearly endless.
The problem with the health threats from plastics is that the toxins are invisible pathogens, which rarely cause an immediate reaction, like a bee sting or contact with poison ivy would. Instead, toxicity builds up over time; its a slower process, yet dangerous and potentially life-threatening, taking months, years, or decades to fully manifest.