You are here: NewsPlastic Free July: Does plastic put our body at risk?
Plastic Free July: Does plastic put our body at risk?
July 23, 2020
We all consume too much plastic. Literally. There is plastic in the food we eat, the water we drink and even the air we breathe. Unfortunately, most people don’t realize that when plastic enters our body, it might make us sick. The chemicals in plastic have been linked to adverse health effects like cancer, diabetes, obesity, infertility, and neurological problems. There is enough evidence suggesting that plastic harms our health.
That’s why we created a new research and advocacy alliance: the Plastic Health Coalition. With this coalition, various national and international environmental and research organizations have joined forces to encourage, enhance, and disseminate scientific research into plastic’s health effects. We are running out of time.
We must reduce the current overconsumption of plastic. Plastic Free July is a perfect opportunity to reduce our plastic footprint and exposure to harmful chemicals and additives found in our everyday plastics. Here’s a selection of six daily plastic products that may threaten our health. Can you quit all of them?
Did you know that chewing gum may contain synthetic polymers like polyethylene and plasticizers to make it all stretchy, soft & flexible? Just think about it, we put gum in our mouth, which is a plastic product made from oil, the same material we use to make car tires. That can’t be right. On top of it, chewing gums are often not easily biodegradable. Well, you must have looked under an old school desk — chewing gum stays there forever.
Go for a non-synthetic rubber chewing gum! Alternatives to plastic chewing gum are already in the market. Try the True Gum instead. They are plastic-free, bio-degradable, and vegan.
Tea bags that appear to be made of only paper may release billions and billions of microplastics in a teacup. Researchers from McGill University in Montreal analyzed four different commercially available plastic tea bags. They concluded that an average of 11.6 billion microplastics and 3.1 billion nanoplastic particles had leached out of each bag into the water. The researchers found that “one of the main potential human exposure pathways of micro- and nanoplastics is likely via ingestion, and particle uptake may occur in the digestive tract. Once inside the digestive tract, cellular uptake and subcellular translocation or localization of the ingested particles may occur.”
However, the added plastic is rarely mentioned on the packaging, and the consumer remains blissfully unaware. Plastic tea bags are just another way for microplastics to end up in the environment and in the human body — without the tea-drinkers’ knowledge. Go for loose tea leaves and brew your own tea on the stove! Fun!
Lipsticks and lip glosses are full of plastic ingredients like Polyethylene (PE), Polymethyl Methacrylate (PMMA), and Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET). Cosmetics are very close to our bodies, especially lipsticks. We know we can quickly ingest the products we apply to our lips via eating and drinking. What are these plastic ingredients doing inside our bodies?
Research shows that the smaller the size of a plastic particle that enters our body, the more it can penetrate further. Depending on the size of the tiny plastic, they may potentially travel from our gut to our blood, and subsequently, access our organs and transfer through our blood-brain and placental barriers. Why take the chance? There are plenty of options for microplastic-free lipsticks. Have you tried the plastic-free lipsticks by Juni Cosmetics and Odylique? We have a whole list of ‘Zero Plastic Inside’ Lipsticks.
Synthetic materials – such as polyester, nylon, and acrylic – are used in 60% of all the clothing worldwide. When clothes are manufactured, worn, and washed, they release plastic microfibers, which end up in the environment,polluting our air and water.
An average household generates about 20kgs of dust a year, of which 6kgs consist of microplastics, which partly originate from textiles. Plastic microfibers are not only harmful to the environment; they can also be risky for our health. Inhaled synthetic fibers may persist in the lung and, as a result, could cause inflammation. Research suggests that this could lead to health effects, including reproductive problems, cancer,respiratory problems, and DNA damage.
Chemicals in plastic can be toxic to our bodies. Many plastic toys for kids or pets may contain these harmful chemicals. Some squishy toys contain “plasticizers” that make them more flexible and less brittle, which can also be toxic. In particular, phthalates are a type of chemical used as a plasticizerthat may increase the risk of asthma and allergies and can interfere with hormone production, causing issues such as low sperm count or early puberty.
Besides, if these plastic toys are lost in the ocean or the environment, they can be harmful to animals and birds. Buy wooden toys. There are endless choices out there.
Several carpets, rugs, sofa, and other furniture items in your house are made of synthetic materials. Because of friction, there is a possibility that tiny particles release from them and end up in the air.
Many carpets and rugs are produced of materials like viscose, nylon, and polypropylene. A research piece by world-renowned institutionsdemonstrated that some carpets sold in Europe contain toxic chemicals that are suspected carcinogens, endocrine disruptors, and reprotoxins that could pose health risks. Try to avoid buying synthetic carpets and rugs and go for wool, cotton, or other natural materials available on the market.
When buying a new sofa or a mattress, try to avoid the ones that contain polyurethane (or polyfoam). Chemicals like these are also found in cushions and similar products and have been linked to cancer, obesity, and sperm count decrease. Always look for 100% natural latex cushioning.
Start your plastic diet today
The plastic diet revolves around tackling the concerns about plastic affecting human health, avoiding leakage of plastic into the environment, and aiming for an absolute reduction of plastic production. We understand that a strict plastic diet is difficult and impractical to follow. Everyday plastics like those found in your car, phone, or laptop are challenging to avoid. That’s why we made this diet easy, achievable, and stress-free for you.