Why not use plastic? It’s cheap, durable, light, readily available, and comes in a variety of pleasing colors. I’ll give you a reason why. Heck, I’ll give you 3:
1. It leaches dangerous chemicals into your food and water.
Plastic is not safe for cooking in a microwave. The containers can melt, or warp, and even with no visible signs of damage, can leak harmful chemicals into your food. The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture recommends the use of glass or ceramic containers, as well as microwave-safe (non-dyed) paper plates and towels, and parchment paper. (They also suggest plastic designed for the microwave is safe, but I’m not buying it. )
The USDA also warns never to use empty margarine tubs, take-out containers (and other one-time use items,) plastic storage bags, brown paper sacks, plastic grocery sacks, newspapers, and of course, aluminum foil (a fire hazard) to re-heat food in a microwave.
What’s a mom to do? Err on the safe side. Avoid storing food in plastic containers whenever possible, for that matter, avoid using canned food whenever possible due to similar leaching effects. Do not use plastic bottles to feed babies and never warm up a baby’s milk or formula in the bottle.
If you use plastic water bottles, never leave them in a car or trunk. Changes in temperature allow chemicals to flow out of the plastic and into your water. Do not store water bottles in your freezer for the same reason.
Alternatively, use these suggestions from Dr. Josepah Mercola, author of New York Times Bestsellers, The Great Bird Flu Hoax and The No-Grain Diet: Dr. Mercola’s kids use break-proof glass or stainless steel water bottles with re-usable stainless steel straws. He also recommends using glass storage containers as long as they don’t have plastic lids. In the workplace, ask your company to switch to glass water dispensers instead of plastic. Finally, cook in non-stick ceramic cookware or enameled cast iron.
2. It makes you fat, sick, and contributes to behavior problems in children.
Plastic water bottles, baby bottles, and canned food liners leach the chemical bisphenol A, or BPA. This estrogenic chemical once used to cause cattle and poultry to gain weight (hello, enough said) and as an estrogen replacement for women, has since been added to plastic to harden it and increase its durability.
In 2008 the National Institute of Health’s Toxicity Program released its findings, stating “Current human exposure to bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical used in many polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins, is of ‘some concern”’for effects on development of the prostate gland and brain and for behavioral effects in fetuses, infants and children. It’s also been linked to heart disease and diabetes.
John Bucher, Ph.D., Associate Director of the National Toxicology Program (NTP) stated that while it is difficult to make causal statements regarding illness and BPA in humans, “We are expressing this level of concern because we see developmental changes occurring in some animal studies at BPA exposure levels similar to those experienced by humans.”
You might think manufacterers have responded to concerns about BPAs since many products boast plastic that is “BPA-free.” Don’t be fooled. The chemical has simply been replaced with the similar component BPS, or other equally dangerous chemicals.
Dr. Josepah Mercola, author of New York Times Bestsellers, The Great Bird Flu Hoax and The No-Grain Diet, reports that “Not only does BPS appear to have similar hormone-mimicking characteristics to BPA, but research suggests it is actually significantly less biodegradable, and more heat-stable and photo-resistant, than BPA.”
3. Plastic is taking over the world.
And by that I mean, the same compounds that make plastic so useful, are the very ones endangering our water, air, and food supplies, says Jessica A. Knoblauch, of Environmental Health News.
Knoblauch cites a report compiled by 60 researchers and published in the scientific journal, Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society, “which aims to present the first comprehensive review of the impact of plastics on the environment and human health, and offer possible solutions.”
She quotes, “One of the most ubiquitous and long-lasting recent changes to the surface of our planet is the accumulation and fragmentation of plastics,” wrote David Barnes, a lead author and researcher for the British Antarctic Survey.”
According to this report, the amount of plastic manufactured in the first ten years of this century will approach the total produced in the entire last century.
“Plastics are very long-lived products that could potentially have service over decades, and yet our main use of these lightweight, inexpensive materials are as single-use items that will go to the garbage dump within a year, where they’ll persist for centuries,” said Richard Thompson, lead editor of the report.
Knoablauch lists the following as some of the reasons researchers are concerned:
• Chemicals added to plastics are absorbed by human bodies. Some of these compounds have been found to alter hormones or have other potential human health effects. For example, eight out of every ten babies, and nearly all adults, have measurable levels of phthalates in their bodies. a chemical used as plasticizers in the manufacture of vinyl flooring and wall coverings, food packaging and medical devices. Additionally, one of the places babies are most exposed to BPA’s and phthalates is in neonatal intensive care units.
• Plastic debris, laced with chemicals and often ingested by marine animals, can injure or poison wildlife. Remember the photo of the plastic 6-pack holder around the animal’s neck?
• Floating plastic waste, which can survive for thousands of years in water, serves as mini transportation devices for invasive species, disrupting habitats. Ingested plastic clogs an animal’s stomach and also poisons it with chemicals that have concentrated in the plastic. Some chemicals are then transferred to the food web when animals eat them.
• Plastic accounts for approximately 10 percent of generated waste, most of which is landfilled. But, placing plastics in a landfill may simply be storing a problem for the future, as plastic’s chemicals often sink into nearby land, contaminating groundwater.
• Around 4 percent of world oil production is used as a feedstock to make plastics, and a similar amount is consumed as energy in the process.
Until “they” come up with ways to reduce plastic toxicity in all its forms, consumers can protect themselves and their children , as well as influence the industry to make plastic safer by simply taking two steps:
1. Stop buying and using plastic storage containers and water bottles. Use glass or stainless steel to cook, store, and transport food or water.
2. Recycle any plastic you can.
After all, manufacturers develop products that make money. Stop giving money to those poisoning your children. It’s a start.