It’s a sad fact that these days we humans regularly ingest plastic without knowing it. We are most vulnerable to microplastics simply because they are smaller, and harder to see and avoid. Microplastics enter the body directly and lead to an array of health impacts (including inflammation, genotoxicity, oxidative stress, apoptosis and necrosis) linked to negative health outcomes ranging from cardiovascular disease to cancer and autoimmune conditions.
Here is the list of choices we can make to reduce the amount of plastic we are exposed to:
Make coffee and tea at home or bring your own cup—Even paper cups contain a plastic lining to prevent liquids from leaking into the outer paper layer. When a hot drink is in a paper cup, the boiled beverage steeps inside a plastic film. Solutions include bringing your own thermos, investigating a short-stack coffee mug, and packing a mason jar for ice coffee or tea.
Do not store and heat food in plastic containers—More information concerning increased chances of dangerous chemicals leaking into food by microwaving food in plastic containers and bottles, or by cleaning them in a dishwasher, is coming to light. Plastics with recycling codes “3” for phthalates, “6” for styrene, and “7” for bisphenols are the worst ones and should be avoided completely. Much better options are glass bottles and containers, or steel containers.
Skip plastic straws—Alternatives are straws made from bamboo and corn starch. As well, check out Simply Straws, Aardvark, Mulled Mind, and Straw Straws made out of glass, paper, stainless steel and straw, respectively.
Avoid eating fish—With more plastic in our waters and oceans, we have a problem with fish eating plastic. Fish ingest plastic because it’s rather tasty. If fish are eating plastic as well as absorbing all the other pollutants, then we know that seafood lovers also will digest their share of toxins as a result.
Water—Unfortunately, drinking waters these days are among the biggest contributors of plastic ingestion; and if you think that bottled water might be the better option, think again. Water treatment systems can’t filter drinking water that finely (at the nanoparticle level). Microplastics were found in bottled water samples tested, as well as in spring water; and bottled water has shown to have approximately double the amount of micro-plastic compared to tap water. The very best way to avoid plastic in water is to use a filtration system(like a reverse osmosis)for your tap water.
Skip tea bags—Did you know that the majority of all tea bags contain plastics? To avoid plastic ingestion via tea, use loose tea.
Skip canned foods—As of 2018, most canned food containers are still lined with plastic so as to prevent contact with aluminum. Food cans are lined with an (BPA) epoxy. This lining has the side effect of leaching BPA, a hormone-disrupting bisphenol, into your drink. Every year, the USA manufactures 100 billion cans, almost all of which are lined with BPA. You are best to purchase beverages in glass. (We also need to return to the bottle refund system.)
Skip pre-packed foods—Most prepacked foods are packed in plastic.Withregard to the clinging plastic film used to enclose fresh vegetables/fruit on Styrofoam trays, reports show that this type of disposable plastic “might actually introduce chemicals that could infiltrate your food. So instead buy package-free food as much as possible, cook at home with fresh and dried foods, and shop at local farmers’ markets as much as possible since most food sold there are package-free.”
Skip chewing gum—Plastic is not in all chewing gums, but the problem is that we consumers have no way of knowing which ingredients are included in the gum base since manufacturers are not required to give us that information. Another problem is that the few gums without plastic as an ingredient come in plastic packaging.