Right after I posted this post about my (almost) plastic free shower and bath routine, I got quite a few wonderful comments which asked for more on the topic – why I am trying to avoid plastic and more details on my alternative cosmetic routine. I will share more posts with details about my hair care, face care, sun protection, ways to avoid plastic in the kitchen etc. in the near future. Today, however, I want to write a little bit more in general about what I learned so far on my journey towards a more sustainable lifestyle and why I think that it is very important to live a more conscious life(style) (which includes less plastic).
So I posted in previous posts about why I eat a plant based diet, why I only eat organic food, why I wear only second hand or fair clothes, and here and there I shared with you why I only use organic cosmetic products. Today I want to look at PLASTIC and in which way plastic actually links all the other important topics of my life (plant based diet, organic produce and cosmetics, sustainable lifestyle in general).
So why to avoid plastic?
The bottom line is that plastic is made from toxic materials. But what exactly does that mean for us and for our planet?
First of all, a whole lot of research is proving that toxic compounds found in plastic cause health problems ranging from cancer to infertility. Basically the chemicals added to plastics are absorbed by human bodies. Some of these compounds have been found to alter hormones or have other potential human health effects. People are exposed to chemicals from plastic multiple times per day through the air, dust, water, food AND the use of different consumer products.
You have probably heard of Bisphenol A (BPA)? It is one of the many chemicals used to make plastic and it can be found in polycarbonate bottles and the linings of food and beverage cans and it can easily leach into food and drinks. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 93 percent of people had detectable levels of BPA in their urine. Another example for a toxic chemical in plastic are phthalates, which are between others used in food packaging, perfume, hair spray, deodorant, almost anything fragranced, nail polish, and insect repellent, can be found in the urine of nearly all adults and 8 out of 10 babies. They are also in dairy products (probably from the plastic tubing used to milk cows) and in meats (one out of many good reasons to eat a plant based diet).
How do they get there? One reason is that UV light and the salt in seawater cause microscopic particles of plastic to emit the toxic chemicals. The chemicals tend to bioaccumulate in organisms as they move up the food chain, and lead to tainted populations that humans regularly consume. This is why it is also coming into the soil where the plants grow – which are then eaten by animals. Since the chemicals concentrate in the fat of animals, you will always get more of them when eating the animal instead of the plant. Plastic buried deep in landfills can leach harmful chemicals that spread into groundwater too (which the animals and the plants drink). You can also find phthalates and other chemicals in the pesticides sprayed on conventional fruits and vegetables (this is why I eat organic food only!).
Chemicals added to plastics are absorbed by human bodies. This is the number one reason why you should think about where, when, and why you are using plastic (and try to avoid it in the kitchen).
But there is a lot more to the story: plastics are made from petrochemicals through an energy-intensive process that itself creates loads of pollution and toxic discharge. The fact is, every plastic container you use is making the planet less habitable. And I personally believe that we all have a responsibility to keep the planet as livable as possible.
Most plastic in the world is not recycled and usually ends up in landfills, where it degrades very slowly. We no longer have an ocean anywhere that is free of pollution! Imagine that! Around 86% of ocean debris is plastic. Plastic debris, laced with chemicals and often ingested by marine animals can injure or poison wildlife. Over 1.000.000 seabirds and marine mammals die every year from plastic ingestion of entanglement.
The floating plastic waste can survive for thousands of years – over 1 trillion of plastic bags are used every year worldwide! Considering this fact it is no longer surprising to read that ALL of our oceans are polluted. One single plastic bag can take up to 1000 years of degrade – and well, it is the same with your bottle of shampoo or body lotion.
These are just some of the facts I consider when I choose what I eat, when I choose what I buy, and when I choose what brands I want to support. And these are the main reasons for why I decided to reduce the amount of plastic in my house drastically – no more plastic bottles for shampoo, body lotion etc. no more kitchen equipment made of plastic, and no more plastic bags (well, I am using tote bags in years already, so this one is actually already implemented since a long time).
I hope you found this post helpful and I definetly hope that it inspired some of you to think about how much plastic you are using in your daily life.
In case you are now motivated to use less plastic but you do not know how to – do not worry, there will be more on this topic very soon 🙂