Scary Truths About Plastic

March 22, 2016

Scary Truths About Plastic

I really can’t stand plastic. It's choking the planet and oceans, and it has me worried about the effects it is having on the bodies of people everywhere.  Folk are ingesting it through the wrapping of foods and drinking of water from PET, ‘BPA free’ and/or any other kind of plastic water bottles and food storage.  In my own life and family I make every effort to reduce plastic and I am passionate about sharing the journey with as many people as possible.

The reduction of plastic is always on my mind…and particularly this week after a trip to Bali where I was horrified at the sight of the single use plastic water bottles in overflowing rivers of plastic rubbish outside my resort. It disturbed me so much I found myself thinking, “wouldn't it be great if we tourists had to pay a plastic tax”. 

Of course, that doesn’t mean that Bali has any greater a problem with plastic usage than anywhere else in the world.  Maybe it’s just more obvious because they don’t have the same ‘out of sight and out of mind’ rubbish removal services as in developed places like urban Australia.  But how many of us actually think about where that plastic bottle ends up, and about how long it will be around after we drop it into the bin? Different kinds of plastic can degrade at different times, but the average time for a plastic bottle to completely degrade is at least 450 years. Those plastic bottles are accumulating at a rapid rate, and just not breaking down. Plastics are now one of the most common pollutants of ocean waters worldwide and scarily they are accumulating in ‘large swirling glutinous accumulation zones’ – massive islands of rubbish and plastic that by some estimates now comprise as much as 40% of the planets ocean surface, or 25% of the Earth! (‘Choking the Oceans with Plastic’ NYTimes Aug 2014). 

 And there are even more reasons to lay off the plastic bottles.  In 2006 a Germany study, involving 132 brands of bottled water from 28 countries made from polyethylene terephthalate, or PET plastic, found that the water from PET bottles contained leached plastic compounds, chemicals which mimic the hormone oestrogen, which have the potential to interfere with estrogen and other reproductive hormones in the human body (ABC Science News April 2009).  The longer water is stored in plastic bottles, the higher the concentration of potentially harmful chemicals. And that’s even without thinking about them heating up in the sun, or sitting in your car, yuk!  About 1.5 million barrels of oil are used every year to make the bottles, and even more oil is burned in transporting them.  So what can we do to help eliminate plastic in our world? It can seem difficult to avoid plastics when shopping in regular supermarkets because just about everything is wrapped in the stuff….but when we start to unpick it a bit, there are options where we can really make a difference in our own lives.

Tips on how to reduce your family’s plastic usage:

• Opt for glass or biodegradable packaging options where possible - pack kids lunches in stainless steel lunchboxes.

• Buy water in glass not plastic.

• Reduce the need to buy packaged items by home-cooking.

• Never buy individually wrapped items. If you don’t have time to make popcorn as a snack….don’t buy the mini packs and instead buy the big bag and split it yourself. This way you can give the kids their snacks (and have more control in how much per serve) in brown paper bags or re-usable snack bags.

• Buy in bulk for wholefoods e.g. flour, nuts. (Watch this space for Dandelion Eco Store’s own  range of bulk wholefoods packaged in brown paper bags, coming soon!)

• Never buy one-use plastic water bottles. If you buy kids juice as a treat, buy it in glass.

• The worst thing you can do is buy tins of tomatoes because the lining is plastic - tomatoes are acidic and cause the plastic to leach.

• Get your veggies at farmers markets – but this only works if you remember to bring your own bags or boxes.

• Store your food in stainless steel or glass – we have a great range of food containers  options in-store.

• Avoid take-away cups which may be lined with plastic.  Invest in your own reusable coffee cup, such as these, and carry it with you.

• Avoid using disposable plastic plates at functions, there are now awesome biodegradable alternatives available.

• Take your own glass or stainless steel straws with you.

• Avoid nutritional supplements stored in plastic, they could still be transmitting some of the toxicity into the product. Opt for glass or cardboard packaged ranges (such as Amazonia RAW, or Green Nutritionals )

• Join Plastic Free July, a campaign challenging you to avoid single use plastic for the whole month of the July.

My own fight against plastic  I have come a long way since I seriously started the journey to reduce my own plastic consumption two years ago…which began after watching the movie Bag It.  I came home and looked in my own cupboard and realised.. “Sheez, there’s a lot of plastic waste here”   My business is now an extension of my desire to help with the world rid itself of the plastic problem.  Here at Dandelion Eco Store, we do our best to reduce the use of plastic by stocking quality alternatives for people, and where possible only stocking items in non-plastic packaging.  I urge you to get on board and do your bit where you can. With love, Rachel X