This summer before having any clue about just how severe my medical issues were, I got the results of a basic hormone screening from my gynecologist. He’s a good guy but being told yet again that “everything is normal” when everything was very, very much NOT normal was extremely infuriating. I never advocate for using the internet to diagnose problems but with my range of symptoms, there was no way that it was all in my head. I knew something had to be wrong somewhere and I wasn’t giving up my fight yet to figure out what. I took to my trusty Bing search and tried to find ANYTHING that could explain. I came across a wide variety of [scary] articles about plastics and the endocrine blocking chemicals that make them up. It was overwhelming. I think everyone had a good idea about BPA these days but BPA is just the icing. There is so, so, so much more.
I began the extensive task of removing dangerous plastics from my life and my family’s lives as best as possible. I think it’s impractical to eliminate plastic completely but for anything controllable in your home, I highly recommend making the attempt.
Here are 5 practical ways to remove plastics from your life:
1. Dishes: It is easy for adults to use glass or ceramic plates and bowls but with small kids involved, finding a solution was hard. For our family, we selected a 5 piece set (plate, bowl, cup, spoon and fork) from Untangled Living. We’ve used them 3 months now and still really love them. They are the perfect size for small kids. The girls think they are awesome too. And there was no looking back. We have just one set per kid as they are a bit pricey and we wash them every meal by hand. It keeps our clutter down as well so win-win.
2. Disposable items: The plastic chemicals found in disposable diapers and menstrual pads is simply astonishing. Our family made the switch to cloth diapers and mama cloth long before my obsession with getting rid of plastic and it has been wonderful. This is not to say that we never use disposable. The key for our family is moderation. By reducing our plastics in as many ways as we can, we are reducing our overall exposure. Yes, there is still some exposure but it’s nothing like the traditional American home.
3. Storage: I cannot say enough wonderful things about the glass snapware containers we have for leftovers and freezer meals. They are so easy to use. They stack great. They are a nice, thick glass. We haven’t had any concerns with breaking or damage. (The lids of these ARE plastic. It’s tricky. Most foods are not touching the lids though so I made the exception.) We also have glass Pyrex bowls and reusable covers from Pampered Mama that we use with them instead of plastic cling wrap.
4. Shopping: For shopping, we have a collection of reusable bags. We’ve built up this collection slowly over time. A lot of our bags just come from free events around the area, especially our running races. We are not picky. I don’t really care if I’m taking a K-Mart bag into Target. It’s not plastic. It’s reusable. That’s all I care about. This includes shopping bags as well as produce bags too though. We made the choice to use cheap, Target brand lingerie bags as our produce bags. It works great. They are a polyester mesh with a zipper and hold up well. (We use those bags as nut bags for making our own almond milk and even for toy storage too. We have a dozen of them at least.)
5. The less thought about: Choose ceramic options for things like butter storage, cookie jars, honey pots, tea/coffee mugs, etc. It is far easier to get rid of plastic on the things you don’t use often or use without much thought than the everyday items you rely on heavily. Every little bit makes a difference. Pick stainless steel pots and pans or cast iron over nonstick coated ones. (The coating is made from chemicals that can leach into your food as it starts to chip.) Try out stainless steel straws for your cups. Keep them in your diaper bag if you go out to a restaurant, etc. Even our water bottles for running are made of stainless steel. Anything that seemed reasonable to replace, we made the attempt to do so.
There are conflicting opinions on just how safe plastic is, especially now that most plastic is in fact BPA free. For my family, we have certain rules for the little plastic that still remains and the biggest one is related to heating plastic. No microwaves, no dishwasher and no leaving plastic in the car where it can heat up in the sun. We also make sure highly acidic foods are always heated in glass or stainless steel. These processes reduce the risk of harmful endocrine blocking chemicals being released into our foods.
Does your family live plastic free? Leave me a comment with your favorite tips.