It’s not common practice to order a side of plastic with your meal, but as scary as it sounds, you’re inadvertently consuming hundreds of tiny toxic microplastics daily…anywhere between 126 and 142 tiny particles to be exact, according to new research from the University of Victoria. And if you think you’re being sustainable by reusing your water bottle, you might want to recycle it once and for all because you’re ingesting an additional 90,000 microplastics annually!
I can tell you that the number one way we are consuming plastic and hormone-disrupting chemicals is via food consumption. Nobody wants toxic chemicals, but they are hidden in so many household items we use every day, including food containers, canned food, water bottles, utensils and more.
Not only are we severely damaging the environment by throwing out too much plastic, but we are also causing great harm to human health by consuming too much of it, along with many hormone-disrupting chemicals. Once we understand where the chemicals lurk, we can take steps to decrease our consumption of them and the devastation to the environment.
Although not all plastic containers contain the hormone-disrupting chemical Bisphenol A (BPA), they do contain a number of synthetic chemicals; Afterall, that’s what plastic is, and reducing our consumption of them is a good thing.
Some hidden household items that contribute to ingesting microplastics/hormone-disrupting chemicals and their healthier alternative swaps include:
- Plastic Cutting Boards- Over time, as cuts penetrate the surface and continuous heat from cleaning begins to wear down the surface, the integrity of the plastic weakens, allowing hormone-disrupting chemicals to leach out and tiny bits of plastic (microplastic and nano plastics) to be ingested. A safer alternative is using a wooden, marble or glass cutting board.
- Plastic Cooking Utensils- It’s time to toss the plastic spatulas, mixing spoons, ladles, etc. Heat and plastic should never mix. A study from the University of Cincinnati found that BPA leached 55 times more when hot contents were poured in plastic containers. Stick to stainless steel or wooden stir spoons and spatulas.
- Packaged Food- It’s hard to get away from chemicals in packaged food and it’s unrealistic to recommend you make everything from scratch at home with waste-free organic ingredients. The truth is families are busy and most of us still want convenience, so let’s make ‘reducing’ the goal. Pick one or two packaged items your family loves and try to make the other favourites homemade. If you’re buying something frozen to be heated, remember to remove the plastic wrap and plastic baking tray (even if they say it’s safe). Safe just means that the plastic shouldn’t melt, it is not an indicator of how much it leaches.
- Canned Foods- Lots of great, tasty and convenient foods come in cans. The problem is that the cans are most often lined with BPA containing resin, which means having canned food often means you are likely consuming added BPA, too. Switch to glass jars when available. e.g.. jar of tomato sauce instead of the can of sauce, or jar of olives instead of canned.
- Lunch containers- If you plan on washing them daily in hot water, I recommend staying away from plastic. Opt for glass or stainless steel instead. Most glass containers have plastic lids, so be sure to hand wash the lids and not in the dishwasher.