It’s no secret, plastic poisons the oceans, the environment and our health. Plastics are made from petroleum and are chemically unstable. In order for them to conserve their properties, a host of toxic additives like lead, phthalates, styrene and bisphenol A (BPA) – to name just a few – are added to them.
But can we really do without plastics? The world we live in today, living without plastic isn’t easy. Think of cars, cellphones or computers – plastic is everywhere we look. And yet, with a few minor changes and without too much effort, we can live with a lot less plastic.
Some tips for reducing our consumption of plastic:
- Make an inventory of the plastic hiding at home. Look in every room and make a list of everything with plastic in it. In the kitchen: dishes, food packaging, nonstick skillet, etc. In the bedroom: mattress, pillow, clothing, curtains, etc. In the bathroom: personal-hygiene products, cleaning products, etc. In the family room: armchair, cushions, etc.
- Get rid of objects you can do without and replace plastic objects with plastic-free alternatives wherever possible.
- Avoid plastics that come into contact with food. Certain plastics are more toxic than others, like plastics numbers 1, 3, 6 and 7. In addition, additives used to stabilize them are more mobile when they’re in contact with fatty foods like peanut butter or acids such as tomatoes. So it’s a good idea to avoid peanut butter and oils that come in plastic containers. Tomatoes, for the most part, come in cans. Nevertheless, the inside of many of those cans is also covered with plastics.
- Never use plastic containers to heat food in a microwave. The chemicals get transferred more easily to food when heated.
- Use glass or stainless steel containers to package or store your food. Some groceries now allow consumers to bring their own containers for meat, fish and prepared foods. Let’s hope that the rest of them are quick to follow suit!
- Refuse plastic bags and throw-away plastics.
- Buy your food in bulk, as well as your personal-hygiene products and your household items.
- Be informed. You’ll find that there’s a lot of information on the Internet, and in libraries and bookstores.
- Make one change at a time: it’s easier than you think.
- Congratulate yourself on your success. Look at what you’re doing and not at what remains to be done.
As for me, I started my detoxification a little over a year ago. And although I made a number of changes, I have to confess that I still forget to bring something to carry my leftovers in at the restaurant. But that day will come.
- Chantal Plamondon and Jay Sinha, Life Without Plastic. Page Street Publishing, 2017.
- Bea Johnson, Zero Waste Home. Scribner, 2013.