Ditch the Plastics

For More Environmentally Friendly Options 

Summertime is a wonderful time to soak up the sun and have fun swimming at the beach, bike riding, walking on nature trails and enjoying the outdoors. This is the perfect time to take in the gifts that our environment has to offer. The Hamptons is particularly rich in this category with our gorgeous beaches and luscious landscapes. In this moment we should be reflecting on these gifts and think about ways to protect them. One way to do that is to decrease our dependence on single-use plastics. Every plastic water bottle, or single-use plastic fork, or plastic bag has an impact on our environment, our wildlife, and our bodies.

13 million tons of plastic ends up in rivers, lakes, and the ocean every year, and are both consumed by sea life and birds and micronized in our waterways. This does significant harm both to our wildlife and to our food supply. The micronized plastics are small enough to be eaten by plankton, which then make their way up the food chain to us. Microplastics are found not only in fish, but in beer, honey, sea salt, and of course, bottled water. In fact, in 2017, Orb Media found that 93% of popular US water brands tested contained up to 10,000 microplastic particles per liter.

Plasticizers are another problem. These are chemicals like BPA and phthalates which are added to plastics to make them softer, more pliable, and translucent. These chemicals leach into our water, food, particularly when plastics are exposed to sunlight and heat. Plasticizers are endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs). EDCs can block, mimic, and disrupt normal hormone signals. When the plastics, heat up, or micronize, these endocrine disrupters are released into our environment, and our water ways. When these chemicals are ingested, they can create misinformation in the body which can lead to health conditions like obesity, diabetes, chromosomal abnormalities, cognitive issues, fertility issues, breast and prostate cancer. Our genetics and detoxification pathways have not evolved to manage microplastics and plasticizers. And we still don’t know all the health consequences.

So, what can we do? The answer, use fewer plastic products. Make your dollars make a difference by purchasing environmentally friendly version of products.

1. Choose products that are packaged in sustainable materials. For example, purchase eggs that are packaged in egg cartons, and not ones packaged in plastic.

2. Use glass containers for storing your food at home. Mason jars and other glass storage containers will both reduce the plastic in the environment and reduce your exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals.

3. Lost your lids? Instead of using plastic wrap use reusable silicone or beeswax wraps.

4. Instead of plastic ziplock bags or takeout containers, use sustainable reusable lunchboxes with reusable containers, beeswax wraps for sandwiches and bamboo cutlery.

5. Use reusable cutlery. In our office at STANDwellness we have cutlery that we wash and use again. We do this instead of each of us using a plastic fork every day to eat our lunch. This adds up to keeping about 1,040 forks out of landfills and waterways per year. And this is just for our office!

The point here is to be aware, and to make choices that put the environment first. These choices will require a change of habit for all of us. As Buddha said, “Each morning we’re born again. What we do today is what matters most.”

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