It has been written about this material a lot. Some kinds of plastic are theoretically safe but a lot of them are really harmful. Specific recycling codes has been introduced to identify the different types of plastic. It’s a symbol or a number surrounded by chasing arrows. Information about plastic and its kinds can be found everywhere but here I want to write about my own idea what’s worth paying attention to.
If you have something made out of plastic please check what it is. You should find the symbol at the bottom of the item. Products with the symbol PP (polypropylene) or number 5 or 2 or 4 (polyethylene) are considered to be relatively safe. The ones I described below rather not. If you are not able to find the marking on the product then, in my opinion, simply try to avoid it.
PET No. 1
..means mainly bottles, but also food packages. Let’s take a closer look at healthy water packed in an unhealthy plastic bottle. Unfortunately, we have very few alternatives because not everyone has clean tap water. Studies indicate that mineral water is contaminated with xenoestrogens – substances which are structurally and functionally similar to female hormones. Presence of xenoestrogens is partly caused by leaching from plastic packaging material. We have to remember that our hormones are a complex, mutually dependent system. They regulate the action of the whole body and when there’s too much of something, the whole system gets out of balance. The consequences are problems with skin, weight, premature puberty, etc.
For me, it’s a sufficient argument to avoid those kinds of bottles. Can we avoid them all? No. So if you drink out of a PET bottle (what I also do from time to time) please remember that a plastic bottle should not be refilled and of course not with warm or heated water/liquid. Already with the second filling the pathogenic bacteria appears in water. Sunlight and elevated temperatures also encourage increased release of harmful substances. How often do we drink such warm water during summer time, which lies several hours in a plastic bottle in the car? Yuck!
PVC No. 3 Polyvinyl chloride
Who does not know the buzzword of the 80’s – PVC. A whole range of chemicals such as dioxins and phthalates is used for its production. They can lead to allergies and new research suggests that they may additionally cause asthma or cancer. Phthalates are released from the PVC and they accumulate in the household dust as well as in the air from which they get to our lungs.
Things to watch out for: PVC windows, plumbing pipes, plastic shoes, baby prams elements such as rain cover and toys!
PS No. 6 Polystyrene
For example cups and lids, yogurt cups and takeaway packages (polystyrene is obtained from styrofoam) are made out of polystyrene, as well as some food trays. Polystyrene is contaminated with styrene monomer which is leaching to our food and drinks. This process of leaching even accelerates with higher temperature, food / drinks with higher fat contend and also over time. Some claim, that it is carcinogenic but studies are not clear. I would put it in simple words: it’s definitely not good for your body.
OTHER number 7
This a group of plastic containing eg. polycarbonates, polyamide and ABS. There is a good chance that Bisphenol A has been used for their production. BPA can cause many illnesses, allergies or affect a hormone disorder. New research indicates that it might be carcinogenic.
Where to find it? In kitchen utensils, hard plastic cups, sometimes in kitchen bowls. Sliced food in plastic packages such as cheese and cold meats is often packed in plastic containing number 7, too.
What to do, how to live?
After all, you can’t replace everything. But you can try for example switching to glass. Try to store food in glass containers such as jars of jams or mustard. You buy them once and for all, they don’t get scratched so easily or stained, they don’t absorb odour and most of all.. we-do-not-eat-plastic! Yes, I know, they can break easier once dropped on the floor but still this is a safer option.
Your can also use wooden spoons and wooden kitchen boards. When you chop something on a plastic kitchen board, remember that, in a way, you chop plastic too and it surely sticks to your food. Please go to your kitchen and check your chop board – you will most likely see scratches!
If I have a chance, I purchase my face cream in a glass jar, I order coffee in an mug at the coffee shop and I wrap my sandwiches in paper. I realize that sometimes it’s difficult to buy e.g. buckwheat groats in something else than plastic bags (by the way – I really DO NOT recommend cooking groats or rice in those pre-packed bags) but it’s not mission impossible!
Fortunately, there are already European PVC and BPA FREE campaigns and it means that something is changing in that matter. Definitely for the better.
However, like with everything – let’s not exaggerate. If I can eliminate plastic from my daily live, I do it eagerly. But in the morning I still wash my hair with my shampoo form a plastic bottle, I also brush my teeth with a plastic toothbrush and a toothpaste form a plastic tube, I grab my plastic credit card and I go for shopping, heeeeey!
Know it and decide it
Keep It Simple