The problem with plastics

The problem with plastics

We all know plastics aren’t good for the environment but I’ve also been suspicious of their health impacts for a long time. I don’t have the faintest idea of how to go about making plastics, and I have an underlying suspicion that anything that artifical can’t be good.

Recently the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in conjunction with the World Health Organisation (WHO) conducted a study in to the hormonal impacts plastics and other chemicals are having on us. They found that hormone-disrupting chemicals now pose a global-threat to health as they can mimic natural hormones in our body, throwing our endocrine system out of whack and thereby promoting disease. The study has called for further research to fully understand the impact of specific chemicals on specific conditions.

Bisphenol a (BPA) was widely used in food packaging and plastic containers until it was found to mimic oestrogen in animal testing. BPA is allowed on the Australian market as debate is still ongoing regarding ‘safe’ levels of BPAs in plastics and the link to disease and adverse health impacts. The argument has surrounded the premise that there is no proof that small quantities of the compound has adverse affects, but shouldn’t the onus of proof be to require evidence that its safe?

With the age of puberty decreasing and the cases of conditions such as cancers, behavioural disorders, labial adhesions, depression and obesity increasing I wonder whatever happened to the tenent ‘first do no harm’.

It seems plastics have become such an accepted part of our lives now that we don’t even question their composition or potential impacts. We assume anything allowed on the market is safe, but how can our government and regulatory bodies possibly keep up with all of these compounds.

In fifty years time, when we look back, what will we think of the choices we’ve made just because its the societal norm?

I’m taking the precautionary approach.

Firstly, I’ve ensured all our modern cloth nappies have only natural, rather than synthetic fabrics, touching the skin. I’ve removed all plastic storage containers from the kitchen and replaced them with glass, and the same goes for reusable coffee/tea cups and water bottles. I use lids and plates instead of clingwrap and never microwave clingwrap as plastics break down when heated. I buy fresh, dried or frozen produce in preference to canned. Wooden toys with toxin free dyes, natural rubber and organic cotton toys are replacing the plastics and synthetics. Buying organic cotton, wool, silk and natural clothing and bedding will also reduce exposure to chemicals through the skin. Where we are stuck with synthetics and non-organics I’m ensuring they are washed multiple times with soap nuts before use to remove residual chemicals.

And that’s just the plastics and synthetics. Throughout your day tomorrow have a look at the number of chemicals you come in to contact with. What do your foods, drinks, cookware, soaps, deoderents, cosmetics, sunscreens, hair care products, cleaning products, detergents, inks, air fresheners and insect repellents contain? And what can you start to eliminate to reduce your exposure?

Keep following me and I’ll share with you the simple and effective natural alternatives I’m discovering to detoxify my life.

If you want to find out more about chemical impacts on the endocrine system read the UNEP’s State of the Science on Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals report.

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  1. k - April 27, 2013

    Insightful article Lauren. I’m about to go shopping and came here looking for your Turkey loaf recipe, but couldn’t help reading this post. Ill be counting the plastics and synthetics all day as well!

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