Of course, such a widely used product must be safe, right? But, unfortunately, this is not the case. Some of the chemicals in plastic can end up in our food, and manufacturers are under no obligation to disclose which chemicals they use.
Plastic certainly makes our lives more convenient, but the bitter aftertaste in foods that have been stored or cooked in plastic for a long time is saying something.
Our dependence on plastic causes many problems. We present to your attention 7 weighty reasons why you should give up plastic, especially when it comes to food.
1. BFA (Bisphenol A)
There are many different types of plastic, and each is assigned a specific number. Consumers can use these numbers to determine if a particular plastic is recyclable.
Each type of plastic is produced according to a certain “recipe”. Plastic #7 is a hard polycarbonate plastic and it is this type that contains BPA.
Over time, BPA builds up in our body and contributes to the destruction of the endocrine system, and also increases the risk of developing dangerous diseases such as cancer and heart disease. Children, including infants and even fetuses, are particularly sensitive to the effects of BPA in our food. This is why BPA is not used in things like baby bottles and mugs.
But BPA can hide in many things: in aluminum soup cans, fruit and vegetable cans, receipt paper, soda cans, DVDs and thermos mugs. Try to purchase products labeled “BPA free” to limit the harmful effects of this substance on your body.
Soft plastics, which are used in many types of children’s toys, contain phthalates, which make the material pliable. Toys are often made of PVC, or #3 plastic. Phthalates are not chemically bonded to PVC, so they are easily absorbed into the skin or any food they come in contact with.
Studies show that phthalates harm the endocrine and reproductive systems of developing children and may even increase the risk of liver cancer. And the headache-inducing smell of fresh PVC suggests that this substance is quite toxic.
It can be difficult to completely avoid these substances. They can sometimes be found in personal care products, so look for the “phthalate-free” label on the products you and your family use to care for your skin.
Everyone knows that plastic water bottles have already become an environmental disaster, but not everyone realizes what a threat they pose to our health. The plastic used in these bottles is #1 PET and uses a chemical called antimony as a catalyst in its production. Researchers suspect that antimony increases the risk of cancer.
More research is needed to determine the full risks of antimony in water, but antimony is already known to leach out of bottles with water. Adverse health effects have been reported in people who work professionally with antimony by touching or inhaling the chemical.
4. Antibacterial additives
The type of plastic most of our food storage containers are made from is polypropylene (#5 plastic). For quite some time plastic #5 has been considered a healthy alternative to BPA plastic. However, it has recently been found that antibacterial additives leach out of it.
This is a relatively recent discovery, and there is still a lot of research to be done to determine the harm that No. 5 plastic can cause to the body. However, our gut must maintain a delicate balance of bacteria in order to function properly, and adding antibacterial supplements to the body can upset this balance.
Teflon is a type of non-stick plastic that coats some pots and pans. There is no evidence that Teflon is inherently toxic to the body, but it can release toxic chemicals at very high temperatures (over 500 degrees). Teflon also releases hazardous chemicals during its manufacture and disposal.
To avoid exposure to this substance, choose dishes made from safer materials. A good choice would be cast iron and ceramic cookware.
6. Inevitable ingestion
The chemical industry acknowledges that there is no way to avoid small pieces of plastic in food, but emphasizes that the number of such elements is very small. What is commonly overlooked is that many of these chemicals cannot be processed by the body, but instead take up residence in our fatty tissue and continue to accumulate there for many years.
If you’re not ready to stop using plastic, there are several ways to minimize your exposure. For example, never heat food in plastic, as this increases the amount of plastic ingested. If you are using plastic packaging to cover food, make sure the plastic does not come into contact with the food.
7. Environmental damage and food chain disruption
It’s no news that plastic takes a long time to decompose and accumulate in landfills at an alarming rate. Even worse, it ends up in our rivers and oceans. A prime example is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a huge pile of floating plastic that is just one of many garbage “islands” that have formed in the world’s waters.
Plastic does not decompose, but under the influence of the sun and water, it breaks down into smaller particles. These particles are eaten by fish and birds, thus entering the food chain. Of course, eating so many poisonous substances also harms the populations of these animals, reducing their numbers and threatening the extinction of some species.
It is not easy to completely eliminate plastic due to its ubiquity in our food. However, there are a few simple steps you can take to minimize the impact.
To get started, switch to glass containers, drinking containers, and baby bottles. Use a paper towel in the microwave to hold up the splatter, not plastic wrap. It’s also a good idea to hand wash plastic containers rather than putting them in the dishwasher, and dispose of any plastic that’s scratched or warped.
By gradually reducing our dependence on plastic, we will ensure that the health of the Earth and all its inhabitants will improve exponentially.