This amazing post was written by Jenn Ryan, a freelance writer, and editor who’s passionate about natural health, fitness, gluten-free, and animals. You can read more of her work at thegreenwritingdesk.com
Many of us have heard of common suggestions such as not heating plastics in the microwave and not drinking from plastic water bottles that get hot in your car.
However, if you are like most of us, you haven’t given much thought to these suggestions and just simply adopted these practices because someone in your life cautioned you against the dangers of plastics.
I’m about to become that special someone in your life.
Plastics leach poison into your stored food and you’ll be surprised at all the adverse health effects this widely-used storage method can cause. But how exactly does plastic do this?
Plastic Is Made from Chemicals
I’ll spare you the chemistry lesson (but in case you’re interested), but the short story of it is that plastics are made from a bunch of different molecules that are attached to each other into a long chain called polymers. These molecules can be carbon, nitrogen, chlorine, phosphorus… you get the picture.
Your plastic is actually made from oil and natural gas.
Since oil and gas are nonrenewable resources, they’re not only bad for the environment (like poisoning millions of animals not to mention ecosystems), but they’re also bad for us. Let’s not forget that fracking is becoming a popular process in which cancer-causing chemicals are leaking into the ground and subsequently, into our drinking water.
Back to plastic and its chemicals. Plastic is ranked by different chemicals and their level of danger: PVC wrap, or #3 plastic (yes, that cling wrap you use on your food but is also in plastic jars and plastic bottles), polycarbonate, or #7 plastic that contains BPA (this commonly lines food cans and is used to make your plastic silverware), and polystyrene #6 plastic, which helps make Styrofoam.
What do these chemicals have to do with your lunch or the world for that matter?
These Chemicals Are Dangerous for You and the Environment
Before I go any further, I should mention that recycling plastics is very important as many of these products end up all over the world (and can take about 1,000 + years to go away), shipped in their premature form as tiny pellets that will arrive at factories ready to be your next Tupperware. These tiny pellets can end up in the ocean, not to mention your plastic bags and other plastic items that ended simply end up overflowing in landfills, and will eventually become poison to the earth.
But back to how plastic affects you.
Let’s take a closer look at each of the types of plastic I mentioned above.
PVC #3 Plastic
Elevate your risk of liver cancer and eat food from containers that were strengthened with PVC! Oh yes, let’s not forget that the process of making PVC also releases dioxin into the environment, which is a known carcinogen (This is also in your tampons, ladies!)
BPA #7 Plastic
This chemical mimics estrogen in the human body. Unless your plastic container says BPA-free, you likely have BPA in your system. 95% of people tested positive for this chemical. Increased risk for prostate cancer, genetic flaws, breast cancer, reproductive problems, low sperm count, immune system disorders, and behavioral issues can also result from exposure to this chemical.
Polystyrene #6 Plastic
The chemical styrene can leach into your food from this type of plastic. Although not officially labeled as a carcinogen, there is an increased risk of certain cancers such as lymphoma as well as damage vital organs.
The environment, as well as your body, would fair much better without the use of plastics. But now that you’ve run home and thrown all your plastic wrap, sandwich bags, and Rubbermaid in the RECYCLING, what the heck are you going to use for leftovers?
Remember when I said I was about to become that special someone in your life? I don’t disappoint. Here are your safe food-storing alternatives!
How to Avoid Plastic—5 Ways You Can Safely Store Food
Take a breather, it’s easy and cost-friendly. You won’t have to travel far (or at all) to find these five alternatives.
I’m obsessed with Mason jars. They come in pretty colors, have leak-free lids, and can be used for just about anything. Whether you choose to go with Mason or just re-use that jar you bought your strawberry jam in, go for it, tiger!
Yes, I’m recycling the glass thing from the jar suggestion above! Glass is great. Yes, it can break. Buy some Pyrex containers and just be a little more careful. They tend to be sturdy and come in all shapes and sizes! Glass can be safely heated up in the microwave and if you’re using Pyrex, you can use the oven as well.
Have kids running around and worried about that glass breaking? Never fear, stainless steel is here! Don’t confuse this with aluminum. Get 100% food grade stainless steel. They come in a variety of colors and although you can’t pop them in the microwave, they tend to be handy when little ones are running around!
Ceramic containers can work great, especially if you’ve heated something up in the oven and plan on doing so again. Again, watch the breaking factor… most ceramic tends to be pretty durable if I do say so myself! (Coming from someone who dropped a glass-ceramic CorningWare dish down a set of brick steps—it and the lid survived!)
Parchment Paper/Beeswax Paper
Get some natural stuff, will ya? Natural parchment paper and beeswax reusable wraps can cover, store, and help you to transport foods. Can be great for meats and fish. They also mold to whatever shape you’d like!
It’s no easy feat to remove plastic from your life. It seems to be just about everywhere. See this complete guide for “safe” plastics and others that tend to be more on the dangerous side. Making even small changes can have a big impact on your health and the environment—so ditch that plastic wrap and start a new trend at your work by using glass, stainless steel, ceramic, and parchment paper! The environment thanks you in advance and your body will thank you later!
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