Eco-Tip of the Week ~Plain & Simple Plastic Facts

This photo has absolutely nothing to do with this post, just thought I'd kick it off with another one of Jordan's awesome shots.What is more perfect than a spider web covered in morning dew... :)
Hello sweet friends ~

It's that time again ~ my Eco-Tip of the week. While I may not be maintaining a strict weekly schedule, it's close enough to make me happy! ;) I wasn't sure what I would be blogging about today, so I took a peek in my Green Binder. A year or two ago I decided that I was tired of digging through multiple books, searching various websites and riffling through miscellaneous papers every time I needed to find the answer to a question that either I, or someone else had. I like having the answers at my fingertips, accessible and ready. So, I created myself a binder, aptly (although not creatively) named "My Green Binder". Pretty sad name, but it stuck. Anyhoo, it's a collection of all the info that I would love to be able to remember with ease... but despite having a pretty decent memory, can't seem to always keep it all straight! It's broken into quite a few sections like, Food Facts, Everyday Living, Dangerous Chemicals, Vegetarianism, Recipes... all in one place, easy to find. Once the girls saw my binder, they each wanted one of their own, and how could I refuse them that request? And then I had to make my mom one... and a dear friend and her son who I knew would benefit from the info. It has been indispensable to me, and so after browsing through, I was able to decide on a topic for today's eco-tip ~ plastic.

My cherished green binder :)
Plastic. It's everywhere. Look around and you're sure to spot a dozen items, easily, that utilize this man made petroleum based substance. Granted, in some cases it does a great service ~ my storage bins made of recycled plastic are hugely helpful with organizing. The plastic misters that I use on all of my green products are very handy. But over the years I've made a concerted effort to rid my home of as much plastic as I can, especially when it has to do with my food.
These recycled plastic bins are great for organizing everthing from paper to yarn!
We seem to do this a lot, as a country and as a nation. We 'discover' something, something wonderful, and then with no thought to the future, we go crazy with it. Will it make our lives simpler? Quicker? Cheaper? Yes?  Yes? Yes? Well, then let's move ahead with no consideration of its future impact on our planet, our children, ourselves. (Can someone please tell me why we still manufacture styrofoam???)
My super handy plastic sprayers, used to dispense my all natural and organic Lemongrass cleaner! :)
At this point you may be wondering "What's wrong with plastic?" Let's begin with the disturbing fact that toxic chemicals are released during the manufacture of all plastics. This manufacturing process is unsustainable and extremely polluting. So before it even enters your home, it has polluted the air, water sources and probably the human workers who help manufacture these items. That last bit is speculation on my part, but I doubt it's far from the truth. ;)
Just one of the ways that glass has replaced plastic in my home. Delightful, delicious, organic herbs and spices all sit happily in cute glass jars! What a tasty little army!
 How about this ~ it can take plastic bags up to 1000 years biodegrade. 1000 years, can you imagine? It can take a plastic jug up to 1 million years to break down! A million? Will the human race even exist anymore? At the rate we're going, maybe not, but those plastic jugs will still be taking up space in the landfills and polluting the oceans. ;)  And while we're on the subjects of oceans ~ 

"A swirling, floating garbage dump in the North Pacific Ocean twice the size of the United States has been noticed in recent years and is growing at a swift pace. It is called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The number of plastic pieces in the Pacific Ocean has tripled in the last ten years and the size of the accumulation is set to double in the next ten unless the use of disposable plastics is reduced." (

Not a peaceful, earth loving picture is it? As if that isn't reason enough to limit the plastics in  your life, how about the chemicals? Many of us have heard of Bisphenol A, commonly known as BPA. It is a hormone disrupting chemical that can mimic natural hormones in the body (estrogen) and is linked to obesity, prostate cancer, breast cancer and hyperactivity. Should this concern you? Only if living healthy is one of your priorities. :) BPA can be found in the following items:
  • beverage cans
  • canned food containers
  • plastic bottle and containers
  • dental fillings and sealants
 BPA can leach out of these containers when you do any of the following
  • heat containers
  • fill containers with hot liquids
  • put acidic foods in containers
Stainless steel, wood, bamboo ~ these have replaced all plastic utensils. Aren't they pretty?
Not only is BPA a danger, but phthalates are also something you would  most likely prefer to avoid at all costs. Phthalates are linked to birth defects, and were seen to cause lifelong reproductive impairments in lab animals exposed during pregnancy and after birth. These chemicals lead to toxicity of the brain, kidneys, liver and lungs. They are linked to sexual dysfunction and male infertility. They are carcinogenic and toxic to the environment. Some phthalates have already been banned in the European Union... wonder when we'll catch on?

"A recent study conducted by the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) found that all sorts of products -- including pencils, toys, shoes, erasers, shower curtains, vinyl flooring, paint, electric cables, snack bags, and clothing -- contain phthalates. According to a recent Reuters report, there are roughly 25 different phthalates used in various products, and while their purpose is to make plastics more flexible, their effects on health are devastating"
Open any cupboard in my kitchen and this is what you'll find! Row upon row of glass jars storing everything from popcorn and raisins to quinoa and lentils!
So, let's remember that I am not a fan of the fear factor. No, not the show, but the introduction of facts used to instill fear and panic. It's the main reason I don't watch the news nor read the paper. Information is just information, you can do with it what you please. Does this plasic info unsettle you? Then the power is yours to make a change. Just as the power is yours to do absolutely nothing. I refuse to judge either choice as right or wrong, it's simply a matter of what matters most to you. In what condition would you like to leave this earth for future generations? Or in what manner you'd like to treat this amazing body that was given to you for this journey. All choices. All up to you. :)
How can you make a difference? Let's start with the obvious, recycle. Recycle anything and everything you possibly can. Recycled plastic use 40% less energy than virgin plastics, that's almost half, and that's a huge difference!
Dump those terrible disposable plastic water bottles! Invest in a stainless steel, aluminum free or glass water bottle and use is over and over, safely. Those plastic bottles are not only a huge waste of water (it uses far more water to create one of those bottles than it does to fill it), but a huge drain on a non-renewable resource, oil. They are intended for single use only, so while it seems to be a green solution to reuse these bottles, for your health and well being, don't. They begin to leach chemicals over time.
Our beautiful stainless steel water bottles. Mine is the lovely white one, they travel with us everywhere we go! :)
I avoid most all foods and drinks in plastic or aluminum cans lined with plastic. You may not be ready for this step so learn what the numbers on the bottom of those plastic containers really means. Choosing a 1, 2, 4 or 5 is a safer bet. Avoid numbers 3, 6 or 7 at all costs.
How about slowly but surely dumping all of those plastic food containers and replacing them with glass? I did this over the course of weeks or months and was so relieved to finally throw away all of those plastic containers. Besides glass is so much prettier. :)
These come in tons of shapes and sizes. Invest in one or two a week and slowly over time see them build and replace that ugly stained plastic.
Okay, I'll wrap this up with some plastic facts. Boy, once I get started it sure is a challenge to shut myself up.... I keep wanting to add more and more! ;) Here's more info on the numbers and what they really mean. (Be sure to check out some of the uses for those dangerous plastics ~ bottles? toys?)

#1– safer plastic and widely recyclable
Used for: water, soda and juice bottles, peanut butter containers, shampoo bottles

#2—safer,  recyclable, doesn’t leach as much into foods, not as toxic to produce
Used for: bleach bottles, plastic bags, water jugs

#3– danger, carcinogenic, not recyclable (PVC)
Used for: plastic wrap, toys, bottles, water piper, cooking oil bottles

#4– safer, doesn’t leach as much, not recycled
Used for: plastic wrap, grocery bags, some baby bottles

#5– safer, possibly recyclable ( will recycle this plastic) (polypropylene)
Used for: food containers and tubs, squeeze bottles, many bottle covers

#6– danger, not recycled- highly toxic to brain and nervous system, suspected carcinogen, may have adverse effects on ted blood cells, liver, kidneys and stomach
Used for: Styrofoam

#7– danger, not recycled, leaches Bisphenol A (BPA), mimics and disrupts estrogen, affect growth and puberty, affects the size of reproductive organs, decreases sperm production, can spark prostate and breast cancer, linked to hyperactivity, increased aggression and impaired learning
Used for: hard, plastic baby bottles, sippy cups, metal food can liners

And I guess it's time to zip my lips...that'll do it for today. :) Wishing you all a wonderful plastic-free afternoon! ;)

Peace & blessings ~ Melinda