So Plastic is a faux pas? But isn’t one of man’s best 20th c. inventions? Perhaps, but that is debatable. Yes, it has endless benefits in the medical field and various other industries …. but, could it be that we, as a race, are addicted to it?
I strongly believe we are.
Plastic is the general common term for a wide range of synthetic or semi-synthetic organic solid materials suitable for the manufacture of industrial products.
It is malleable allowing itself to be cast, pressed, or extruded into an enormous variety of shapes and products—such as film, fibers, cups, plates, phones, zip lok bags, computers, bottles, boxes, and of course so much more.
So what is the problem with plastic, anyways?
In reality this is a two fold issue that remains very hidden from many peoples’ consciousness – it is both environmental and health related.
Whether we are aware of this or not, both, our health and our environment are in peril – because of our abuse and addiction to plastic.
Just stop and think, virtually everything we use in our lives, on a daily basis, is a derivative of plastic.
A material that does not have the same recyclable rate, that most people believe to be true that could actually justify how much of it they use.
Plastic is everywhere! Its an inevitable fact, and the ghost of the industrial revolution that will be haunting us for millennia to come.
The tide of plastic has been rising in shores all over the world – from our beaches in Santa Monica to the Maldives in the Indian Ocean to even uninhabited places like the Arctic.
Although many American beaches — may not display the reality what is happening in our oceans, I invite you to go down to the shore, the morning after a rain, and you will see the evidence of our civilization.
Evidence, that if not picked up before the high tide by volunteer beach clean up, will end up in our oceans.
There is an expression – out sight out of mind.
The problem with that frame of mind, is that people continue to forget that will live on this planet together – and everything is effected – maybe not today or tomorrow, but eventually.
All this plastic and litter has been creating islands of garbage all throughout our oceans.
We have one, a mere 1000 miles from our shores in an area known as the North Pacific Gyre, this garbage island has sweetly dubbed The Garbage Patch.
I have a sample of that water here with me. As you will notice there are particles of plastic floating along with the plankton ….
currently, plastic outweighs plankton 24:1
So what does that mean? That our birds and fish are eating this plastic mistaking it for jelly fish and plankton, amongst other things.
In turn, we are eating these fish and inadvertently consuming the residue of these chemicals such as polychlorinated biphenyls, dioxins and other chemical pollutants.
As humans, being on top of the food chain, chemicals bio-accumulate in the fatty tissue of animals, and it accumulates as it rises on the food chain; breast milk being on the top of our food chain. Leaving us at the mercy of our own vices.
In the past year there has been a lot of buzz in reference to plastic drinking bottles and the chemicals that are known to leach out of them.
The compound bisphenol A also known as BPA has been is widely used in the production of transparent plastic bottles, tin cans, and soft drinks.
Unfortunately, this chemical has been known to mimic the female hormone oestrogen, which leads some scientists to believe that it may cause damage to an unborn baby’s growing sex organs as well as imbalance the hormones of adults, raises the risk of certain cancers, hampers fertility, cause a higher incidence of miscarriage, and reduce sperm count amongst many other health risks.
The United States currently has one of the highest rates of infant mortality for a first world country, in addition to, unusual infertility rates.
So what exactly does BPA do? It mimics naturally occurring estrogen, a hormone that is part of the endocrine system, the body’s finely tuned messaging service, these hormones control the development of the brain, the reproductive system and many other systems.
Phthalates are a group of widely used chemicals that make plastic softer and help stabilize fragrance in personal care products.
Soaps, lotions and perfumes, fragrances, deodorant, perfume, children’s toys, infant care products, cosmetics, food packaging, vinyl flooring, blood storage containers, teethers, toys, and food wrap, toothbrushes
So how does one become exposed? Its actually really easy and may happen on a daily basis if you are unaware. Phthalate which can migrate into food from certain food wraps during storage with common plastic containers, Zip Lok bags, and Seran Wrap.
This is a chemical that is so widely used, and rarely spoken about yet should be something every America should be aware of.
It causes Infertility, birth defects and other malformations of the male reproductive tract.
Phthalates may adversely affect male reproductive function at levels commonly found in people. Young infants and fetuses are most vulnerable to the potential adverse effects of phthalates.
High phthalate levels cause feminized genitals in baby boys. Prenatal phthalate exposure has been linked with incomplete testicular descent and smaller penises in male babies. The study also found more than 80 percent of infants tested had been exposed to phthalates.
The EU has ban some phthalates from cosmetics and toys, and California banned the chemicals from baby toys – but phthalates are legal to use in personal care products sold in the United States, and there are no requirements to label products for phthalate content.
In this country new born infants are born with over 300 chemicals in their bodies.
An alarming number that should make every single one of us be more aware of our use and abuse of plastic.
So what does one do?
Buy glass instead of plastic jar products (i.e. peanut butter jars, etc)
Do not store or heat food in plastic
Volunteer for beach clean-ups
Eliminate your need for single use plastic bottles – use a stylized reusable bottle instead!
Avoid plastic – find alternatives
So next time you are asked in the market whether you want PAPER OR PLASTIC – proudly say neither, and make the conscious realization that one is derived from living trees and the other is non-biodegradable petro based product!