Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Rethinking Plastic

While holiday shopping in the house wares department the flashes of bright colors caught my eye. Along with new Panini makers and heavy cookware were the new silicon bake ware pans in all shapes and sizes. Flexibility, like soft rubber is the selling feature. One can literally turn the pan inside out so as not to disturb the delicate baked goods. The finish creates a non-stick surface. The idea caught my interest, but something just didn’t seem right…

My parents raised us not to litter the same way they raised us camping in the mountains. Being the “city girl” in the family, I never considered myself totally consumed with the whole *go green* movement though it does make sense to me. What goes on with our health and our earth seems a worthwhile endeavor. I try to consider what goes into my body and what I choose to put into the landfill, but lately my awareness has peaked. Bits of news and hype surrounding the whole bottled water thing have been slowly entering my mind and bearing more impact than I realized.

Taking my lunch to work everyday seems a healthy practice. Most of the food prepared in our home is cooked from scratch to avoid excess sodium. Not being a fan of the microwave, the convenience issue keeps it a part of daily life if only to warm food. Lunch time at work means out comes the “tupper” container, previously refrigerated. Pop that baby into the micro and {oops} sometimes the inside wall of the container bubbles up and takes on the color of the food! This really seems wrong even though sporadic. Seriously, it’s enough for me to do a “head’s up” on the subject.

My research has brought up a lot of stuff on food contact substances. Basically, all plastics migrate into the food (or drink) they contact. The controversy exists in the level of chemical contaminates including carcinogens. Phthalates found in plastic bottled water have increased scrutiny. Leaching Bisphenol A (BPA) is a known danger and can block and mimic hormones, affecting the body’s normal functions. This endocrine disrupter can cause neurological problems and affect immune systems.

At age 51, messing with my hormones is not something I should be doing, let alone sacrificing optimum brain function and immune deficiencies.

Another point, that plastic “smell” and “taste” should tell us something. It’s just plain common sense that the odor of plastic while eating and drinking isn’t natural!

There are responsible decisions we can make about the types of plastics we choose to use. Evidently the different plastics are identified by a number on each plastic receptacle and certain numbers identify certain plastics that are found to be the most in question for chemical leaching. From the reports I have read stay away from 3, 6, 7 and 8.

Beginning my quest to find better alternatives became more of a challenge than I thought. Glass is the best answer, though not always practical. I now store and freeze and heat our food in Pyrex. My metal thermos replaces my plastic thermal iced tea jug but has some plastic parts on the spout mechanism. My new cookware cannot be used with mettle utensils without damage to the finish, so wood works here, no more plastic stirring my gravy! All of my juice comes in plastic. The milk cartons, once coated with wax are now sprayed with… you guessed it… plastic! Even organic produce at the supermarket is sprayed with plastic!

Realizing that we seem to live in a plastic world makes me wonder how we can rid the risks to our health and our habitat. Awareness is key, then conscience and a choice to better living…

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