Plastic Pollution - The Effects On Our Health & Environment
Americans are generating more plastic trash than ever before!
Plastics and their byproducts are deeply impacting our environment in a negative way by littering our cities, oceans, and waterways with toxins, contributing to health problems in both humans and animals. An alarming statistic - plastic production increased exponentially "from 2.3 million tons in 1950 to 448 million tons by 2015” (Parker 2). Sadly production is expected to double by 2050. Plastics can contain THOUSANDS of possible additives, and manufacturers are not required to disclose their recipes.
Any plastic can leach toxins into your food and drinking water, including “BPA Free” plastic. Yup you heard that right. Even BPA Free plastic is not safe. For example, phthalates (also called plasticizers) are used to make plastic products. They are in everything from plastic food containers, water bottles, shampoos, to personal care products. Did you know phthalates are linked to diabetes, thyroid disease, asthma, reduced fertility, increased allergic reactions and birth defects? Rule #1. ⚠️⚠️ Do NOT heat or add hot food to plastic containers ever. Otherwise the plasticizers will leak into your food and water. This includes drinking out of a plastic water bottle that was left in your car on a hot summer day!
Plastic is used everywhere, even at high-end restaurants for cooking. The cooking technique is called sous vide! This allows chefs to cook food to the exact level of doneness desired. Sounds great until you learn how this is achieved. Sous vide means “under vacuum.” Your food is vacuumed sealed in a bag then cooked in a very precise temperature controlled water bath. Your healthy dish now just became very unhealthy filled with endocrine disruptors.
We are bombarded at the grocery store and by commercials everyday with companies marketing a “healthy” dish ready in minutes. I can still remember in college (and after college for a period of time) buying pre-made stir fry’s and “organic" rice & vegetable bowls thinking I was consuming a nutritious dish. Or those steamed vegetable bags that you toss in the microwave to cook or those plastic pouches of vegetables you add to hot water. Yikes! No wonder my thyroid had such a hard time balancing. This may seem like a convenient option at the moment, but trust me it is far from convenient when you are so sick, unable to work, and live life. Every step you take to remove toxic chemicals from your environment can have a positive impact on your health by reducing your “body burden,” or the amount of chemicals present in your body.
Now lets circle back around to Bisphenol-A (also known as BPA). In the past decade studies uncovered that BPA is a hormone disruptor linked to a whole host of health problems. Many manufactures and companies have since taken action to remove BPA from a lot of plastics, including the plastic inner coating found in many canned goods. You will now see plastic bottles, plastic containers, and canned goods labeled as BPA Free. Back in 2012 the FDA even banned the use of BPA in baby bottles and children sippy cups. This is all fantastic, except BPA has now been replaced with BPS, another chemical in the Bisphenol family. Studies are revealing that BPS has some of the same hormone-disrupting effects as BPA. In addition to BPA and BPS, "studies show that plastics leech synthetic estrogen mimickers into the food or liquids stored inside them, which are linked to cancer, infertility, heart disease, and other health problems.” At the end of the day plastic is plastic, whether BPA Free or not. It is just a matter of time before research reveals the next hidden toxin in plastic.
Quick side tangent...
Now on the environmental level 🌍
Keep in mind the health of our environment is SO important for your individual health too. If we do not have clean water, soil, or air to breath, how are we going to live? Everything and everyone, we are ALL connected. “US residents are buying more plastic, and only about 8 percent of it gets recycled” ("The Problems With Plastics”). In addition, the plastic industry rarely uses recycled plastics to make their products, contrary to the glass and metal industries. “Single-use plastics account for 40 percent of the plastic produced every year” (Parker 1). Many of these products, such as food wrappers and plastic bags, have a lifespan of barely minutes to hours, yet they can persist in the environment for up to 400 years. Another alarming fact, every year about “8 million tons of plastic waste escapes into the oceans from coastal nations” (Parker 2). To put into perspective, that is the equivalent of setting five garbage bags full of trash on every foot of coastline around the world.
Most of the plastic trash in the oceans flows from land. Trash is also carried to sea by major rivers. The rivers work as a conveyor belt picking up more and more trash as they move downstream 🌊🌊 Once at sea, sunlight, wind, and wave action break down plastic waste into small particles. These Microplastics have been found on both land and water from Mount Everest, the highest peak, to the Mariana Trench the deepest oceanic trench on Earth and finding their ways into our drinking water and drifting through air. Millions of animals are killed by plastic every year! This includes birds, fish, and other marine organisms 🐳 Most of the deaths to animals are caused by entanglement or starvation. Turtles, whales, seals, and other animals are stranded by abandoned fishing gear or discarded six-pack rings. This affects you too! “Microplastics have been found in more than 100 aquatic species, including fish, shrimp, and mussels destined for our dinner plates” (Parker 2). A lot of animals suffer due to our plastic industry! These Microplastics have been found to block animals digestive tracts. Stomachs so packed with plastics reduce the drive to eat, causing starvation.
I know this can all seem daunting and overwhelming like we are doomed. Thankfully there is hope! It is all about education. Knowledge is power! Once you are armed with the correct information you can then take action to reclaim your health, and make positive choices that supports our environment and in turn us.
Use stainless steal water bottles opposed to plastic water bottles. Hydro Flask is a great company that makes stainless steal water bottles for babies, kids, and adults.
Look for food products stored in glass over plastic, and store leftover food at home in glass containers.
For kids school lunches there are a handful of great companies now that offer stainless steal containers.
Purchase supplements from companies that store their supplements in glass over plastic bottles.
As mentioned early in this article water stored in a plastic bottle, when exposed to sunlight and heat, toxins from the plastic leech into your water. Same holds true with supplement bottles. Even if you properly store the supplement bottle in a cool place, most likely toxins have already leeched into your supplement during transport and shipping. At this point the supplements could actually be doing more harm than good. Thankfully there are many great companies now that are aware of the dangers of plastic! Opt to purchase supplements from companies that use pure organic ingredients and package their remedies in glass bottles. Based on my health journey and research I am very passionate about offering people the purest of the pure ingredients and packaging to truly help heal. Here at Root To Vitality all our remedies are packaged in glass.
We all have the ability to make the world a better place! The businesses we support, the purchases we make, all make a difference our planet 🌎☀️☀️💫