postheadericon Live safer with Plastics

Plastics are everywhere and life without plastic is unrealistic these days.  For an entire century plastic was hailed as a modern miracle, taking the place of many natural materials that were being exhausted, but eventually the downsides of plastic started to emerge. There are ways to live safer with plastics by making the right choices and supporting the right legislation.  Discards, leached chemicals and the lack of biodegradability are wreaking havoc on the environment and on human health.  During the manufacture of certain plastics, toxic chemicals such as benzene and dioxin are released.  Other chemicals such as bisphenol-A leach into our food chain when we use plastics.  Discarded plastic containers tossed into our landfills take hundreds of years to break down, and some new evidence suggests that plastic polymers never fully biodegrade.  When this plastic breaks down it forms a dust that ends up in our waterways and can bind with other toxins like DDT and PCB forming super concentrated levels which are ingested by our marine life and ultimately end up in our food chain.  Plastics accumulate in our waterways killing aquatic life, it is estimated that 12% of the US solid waste is plastic.

By reducing your use of plastic, and choosing plastic products with care you can help to reduce the risk to your family and the environment.

Stop drinking bottled water!   Water bottle manufacturing guzzles 1.5 million gallons of fossils fuels to produce and take a vast amount of additional fuel and resources to distribute it around the world.  The Pacific Institute estimates that in 2006 producing the bottles for American consumption alone required the equivalent of more than 17 million barrels of oil, not including transportation impact, and produced more than 2.5 million tons of carbon dioxide.  It takes approx. 3x the amount of water to produce a water bottle and fill it with water than the actual bottle holds.  It is estimated that the average American consumes 167 bottles of water annually.  Most of the water was sold in polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles, requiring nearly 900,000 tons of the plastic. PET is produced from fossil fuels – typically natural gas and petroleum.  PET bottles can be recycled but evidence shows that only 20-25% of these bottles are recycled and if left on their own would take nearly 700 years to decompose.  Not only is bottled water bad for the environment, evidence suggests that it may not be better for you.  Bottled water quality is regulated by the FDA while tap water is under much stricter EPA guidelines that disallow E coli.  Bottled water regulations do not include this restriction!  In addition there is mounting evidence that the chemicals contained in the PET bottles leach into the water.  These bottles are designed for “single use” to reduce the chance of leaching chemicals.  Single use materials and conveniences are a socio-economic and environmental nightmare that need to be eliminated from our sustainable way of life.  (This info is courtesy of Green Irene.)

Styrofoam – convenience at an unacceptable cost: Medical evidence suggests that chemicals, as benzene & styrene in EPS foam are carcinogenic and may leach into food and drink. Polystyrene is produced from styrene, a known human neurotoxin and animal carcinogen, attacking the central and peripheral nervous systems. Factory workers who work with styrene have been documented to have suffered from a variety of neurological and hematological disorders. Not only is there styrene left over from EPS manufacturing, but styrene has been shown to leach out from EPS packaging under a variety of circumstances–most notably when in contact with an acidic food (such as adding lemon to your tea), contact with hot foods, or when food containing vitamin A, which breaks down EPS, is microwaved.  EPS cups, containers and plastic bags, are a major source of pollution on our beaches – especially after a rainstorm. EPS breaks down into small pieces, often mistaken for food by marine animals, birds and fish. Once swallowed, it either acts as a poison or fills the stomach causing reduced appetite and nutrient absorption, often leading to slow starvation. According to Alguita Research Institute (www.alguita.com), the ratio of plastics to plankton (a major food source for many marine animals) in the oceans is currently 6:1 and rapidly increasing. Reprinted from Styrophbia’s website. www.styrophobia.com

Tips:

  1. Use a gallon water filter in your fridge of cold water instead of bottles.It will help reduce the negative environmental impact and give you more space.
  2. Purchase a portable water bottle formember of your family.  Keep them in your vehicles so they are accessible.  Avoid hard, clear reusable plastic bottles made of polycarbonate #7 plastic which mayBPA a harmful chemical.
  3. Try using seltzer-bottle replaceable CO2 to created bubbly water or soda on demand.
  4. Carry a stainless steel reusable coffee mug in your car so you aren’t tempted to do a “fly-by” coffee mission and end up throwing away a Styrofoam cup.

See fun and eco-friendly personal soda maker at Green Irene

 

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