Dealing with plastic

Plastikersatz
Better glas than plastic
Photo: Pixabay

There are two ways to curb the use of plastic: 1. Avoid plastic where you can, especially with food, and 2. start asking questions, especially from companies that use or produce plastic.

Avoid food with plastic

Above all through food, we pick up plastic chemical additives. Basically, you should therefore avoid all foods that have been in contact with plastic for a long time. These include, in particular, foods that are fat, moist or acidic, since the likelihood here is that chemical additives have dissolved out of the plastic packaging.

Manufacturers may note that the chemicals in plastic are present in only a very small proportion. They refer to the low-dose approach of toxicology: In low dose, a poison is harmless. But some chemical additives in plastic in the human organism act as messengers and hormones. Sometimes a few molecules are enough to influence the human metabolism.

Basically, healthy plastic does not exist.

The daily dose

Most of us use different plastic products every day: In the morning under the shower the shower gel from the plastic container. The plastic shower curtain drips off the water and we breathe in the humid vapors. Then brush your teeth with a plastic toothbrush with toothpaste, which was in a plastic tube for months.

Of course, the coffee comes from the new coffee machine, which presses the coffee powder through a plastic pad with hot steam and water. A cheese bread with cheese, which was neatly separated with plastic from the other cheese slices. Quickly scratch out the yogurt cup, of course, that is also made of plastic.

Off to the subway, on the way, a freshly brewed cappuccino is quickly bought in a paper cup, which is coated with plastic inside, and oh, and a bottle of water later for the sport, of course, from a plastic bottle, which is not so difficult , and so it goes on for the whole day ...

Studies indicate that plastic substances accumulate in the human body (Federal Ministry of Health, Vienna, 2010). Even if the chemical substances in plastic are below the legally permitted minimum limit, the permanent contact with plastic can lead us to take these substances far beyond the permitted minimum values.

Checklist for shopping
We know that it's hard to buy plasticfree, but with a little imagination and curiosity. Here are a few simple tips on how and where to avoid plastic and strengthen your health:

  • Do not buy plastic packed food. They do not know how long the food was sealed in plastic. They are still available: fresh and unpacked food in the supermarket or on the weekly market, preferably with regional, seasonal products. These were sometimes harvested the day before, hmmm yummy!
  • Do not use canned food and cans. Preserves and cans are often coated inside with epoxy resin that contains the harmful BPA. Some manufacturers are already switching over and offering products in glass. However, the lids are also coated with plastic and harmful substances can enter the food. Nevertheless, glass is the better alternative.
  • No drinks from plastic bottles. In recent years, almost all beverage manufacturers have switched to plastic bottles. There are studies that postulate the safety of drinks from plastic bottles and studies that show otherwise. After all, it's up to you to whom you believe.

Three good reasons against plastic bottles
 

  1. Only a small portion of the plastic bottles are actually recycled. The largest part lands at best in the garbage, at worst in nature (Deutsches Verpackungsinstitut).
  2. Even though glass bottles are heavier than plastic bottles and therefore require more fuel during transport, the difference between a glass and PET returnable bottle is only a meager 0.01 kg CO2 per bottle! If you plant a tree in the rainforest at Naturefund for only 6 EUR, you can drink three liters from a glass bottle every day for about 55 years - without causing any more CO2. So with PET bottles, you're not really protecting the climate. Disposable plastic bottles are by comparison climate sinners because they cause twice as much CO2 per bottle as a glass bottle (Ifeu, Deutsches Verpackungsinstitut).
  3. Our third argument: Plastic drinks do not taste good. Take the test yourself: put a plastic water bottle and a glass water bottle in the blazing sun for a day. Then drink in the evening from both bottles, preferably with lukewarm water. What do you like better? We clearly enjoyed the water from glass bottles more.

A few more tips

Plastic is everywhere in our everyday lives, sometimes we can not avoid it, because who likes to do without the computer or the practical smartphone? But a few basic rules in dealing with plastic reduce the risk of taking harmful substances:

  • Do not heat plastic objects.
  • Protect plastic items from sunlight.
  • No plastic in the dishwasher. Substances such as bisphenol A (BPA) are dissolved out during rinsing and distributed in rinsing water. All other dishes come into contact with the rinse water and the subsequent drying remains a fine film on the dishes including BPA & Co. back.
  • Use natural cosmetics without plastic.
  • Avoid clothes that contain plastic. We also absorb chemical additives via the skin.
  • Separate from plastic items that you do not really need or keep them in the basement or attic.
  • Above all, do not use old plastic objects. Their surfaces are usually brittle, so that additives can escape particularly well.
  • Replace old electrical cables. Cables are encased in plastic, which often contains flame retardants that can also escape and be absorbed by the human body.
     

Yes, the chemical additives in plastic are invisible, we often do not taste or smell them - except after a day in the sun. But also radioactivity is not visible and can still be dangerous.

Plastic spring cleaning

Make a plastic spring cleaning. Walk room by room through your home or apartment and discover where plastic is waiting for you everywhere. Do you need this plastic? Can you replace it or at least stow it somewhere else, so that you no longer get in contact with it every day? We absorb many chemical substances via the breath and the skin!

By the way, a plastic spring cleaning can be done all year round.

Ask questions

If you want to know if BPA or other contaminants are present in products, contact the manufacturing company directly for clarification. Consumer requests to companies have to be processed within 45 days according to the right of access, which was introduced with the EU regulation in 2007, and the consumer must be informed about dangerous substances in the products.

We have made a sample letter, you are welcome to use. Naturefund offers you to publish answers from manufacturers and companies on our website if they agree with them, especially if a product or packaging contains hazardous substances.

This increases transparency, companies have fewer questions to answer, and more people use this information to decide whether to buy certain products or not.

Naturefund makes no claim to completeness and reserves the right to change or extend certain information. Above all, we want to inform about the subject of plastic and point out alternatives.

Continue reading: Common plastics

 

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