Plastic: Too Good to Throw Away
Plastics aren’t necessarily bad for the environment; it’s the way we tend to make and use them that’s the problem. It’s estimated that half of the nearly 600 billion pounds of plastics produced each year go into single-use products.
Compared with an adult, a fetus might respond to a chemical at “onehundred-fold less concentration or more, and, when you take the chemical away, the body is nonetheless altered for life.” And not just for the child’s life, but maybe her children’s lives, too. “Inside the fetus are germ cells that are developing that are going to be the sperm and oocytes for the next generation, so you’re actually exposing the mother, the baby, and the baby’s kids, possibly,” says Heindel.
These problems rarely present themselves in the kind of time span that would make it easy to draw clear lines between toxins and their effects. Infants may seem fine at birth but carry within them a heightened sensitivity to hormones and hormone-like chemicals only revealed later in life, often in puberty, when endocrine systems go into hyperdrive. This increases the adolescent’s or adult’s chances of falling ill, getting fat, or becoming infertile.
Under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), the U.S. law that regulates chemicals in commerce, it's entirely permissible to launch a new material into high-volume production without disclosing its precise chemical identity or any information about its toxicity. This makes it impossible for the public to assess product safety independently of manufacturer claims. And currently, despite EPA and FDA policies that support "safe" alternatives to a chemical of concern like BPA, neither federal agency conducts safety testing of new materials destined for consumer products before they come on the market.
About 15% of American girls now begin puberty by age 7. . . Early puberty increases girls' odds of depression, drinking, drug use, eating disorders, behavioral problems and attempted suicide, according to the 2007 report. When these girls grow up, they face a higher risk of breast and uterine cancers, likely because they're exposed to estrogen for a longer period of time. . .
A variety of chemicals — found in everything from pesticides to flame retardants and perfume — can interfere with the hormone system, Herman-Giddens says. For example, chemicals used to soften plastic, called phthalates, can act like hormones. In a small study of 76 girls in Puerto Rico, researchers found that 68% of girls who went through early puberty had been highly exposed to phthalates, compared with only 3% of girls developing normally.
Want a free reusable straw and the knowledge that you’re making a difference? Read on…[Note from Eco-novice: My Plastic-Free Life also has an awesome giveaway for Klean Kanteen's new plastic-free Reflect water bottle.]
"For the first time, we know how much of our meat and poultry is contaminated with antibiotic-resistant Staph, and it is substantial [nearly half of all meat sampled was contaminated]," said study senior author Lance B. Price, director of TGen's Center for Food Microbiology and Environmental Health.
"The fact that drug-resistant S. aureus was so prevalent, and likely came from the food animals themselves, is troubling, and demands attention to how antibiotics are used in food-animal production today," he added.
In kitchens across this country, eight dyes, currently being used by manufacturers, can be found in everything from packaged macaroni and cheese to breakfast cereal to practically every piece of candy your child has ever put in his or her mouth. Links are being found to hyperactivity in kids (ADHD), cancer and serious food allergies.
But here is the truly crazy thing. Kraft, Coca Cola and Wal-Mart have already removed these artificial food colors and dyes from the same products that they distribute in other countries. They did it in response to consumer demand and an extraordinary study called the Southampton Study.
The best way to combat diet-related diseases is to change what we eat. And if our thinking is along the lines of diet improved = deficit reduced, so much the better. If a better diet were to result only in a 10 percent decrease in heart disease (way lower than Ludwig believes possible), that’s $100 billion project savings per year by 2030.
I'm sitting alone at a small table in Cafe de Flore drinking the best hot chocolate ever. All the outdoor tables are filled, so I'm inside with a view of the entire restaurant. The waiters are weaving in and out of the narrow paths as they deliver coffee, tea, and take orders. All the chairs and tables are arranged facing the street for optimal people watching. The people sitting in the cafe look so relaxed, it's as if they are watching TV. Most of the people have drinks on their table. They are not reading a book, working on their laptops, or even talking to the person they came to the cafe with.
Help raise awareness about cloth diapers while helping set a Guinness world record, if you are into that kind of thing.