DANGER: Plastics are Poisoning Our Bodies and the Planet

Jul 30, 2012 by

THRIVE

How does consuming plastic threaten our well-being and benefit the oil industry at the same time?

Plastic is a remarkable material. It’s used in just about everything: cars, buildings, computers, cell phones, packaging. The list goes on and on.  Plastic, however, is tremendously energy intensive to produce and is toxic to our health and to the environment. We use plastic as if there’s an endless supply: to-go coffee mugs, take-out containers, plastic grocery bags. These items that we use for only minutes often stick around for hundreds of years. They don’t break down easily. As a result, our landfills are filling up; birds and marine animals are being poisoned; and our environment is being polluted. Not to mention our bodies.

Our health is suffering from constant exposure to plastic toxins.  Bisphenol A (BPA), which is used to make polycarbonate plastic, is a known endocrine disruptor.  It lines baby bottles, beer cans, canned food, and is in many other consumer products.  BPA has been linked to autism, ADHD, breast cancer, early puberty, low sperm count, prostate cancer, miscarriage, obesity, and more. Phthalates are also commonly used in plastic products even though they’re linked to serious health effects including asthma, eczema, premature birth, smaller penis size, lower sperm count, allergies, and more.

One of the dirty little secrets behind the prevalence of plastic in our lives is that the oil industry profits hugely from plastics.  Plastic is made from oil. It takes 50 million barrels of oil just to produce the plastic for one year of global bottled-water consumption.[1]  The combined lobbying efforts of the plastic and oil industry has created more and more demand for plastic. It’s no coincidence that we’ve produced more plastic in the last 10 years than in the previous century.[2] As discussed in the Follow the Money section of this site, the people who control oil – the international central bankers like the Rockefellers, Rothschilds, and Morgans – also control every other sector of human endeavor. Plastic is yet another tool of theirs to breed dependency on oil, reap enormous profits, and gain even more control.

They are also actively engaged – through the American Chemistry Council (ACC) – in shutting down citizen-based movements to ban plastic bags.  The ACC is made up some of the largest U.S. corporations including Bayer, DuPont, ExxonMobil and Merck. In 2009, they spent $1.4 million to stop an ordinance in Seattle to charge a fee on plastic bags. The ACC succeeded, but only by a narrow margin.  The good news is people are having success with similar programs all around the country and the world, even with fewer resources and less money. Check out some of the opportunities below to take action and cut down on your use of plastic.

 

OPPORTUNITY: We Can Stop Consuming So Much Plastic

There are a number of ways to take action in your community:

 

Boycott Bottled Water at Your School, Work, or in Your Community – Here are some resources to make the shift:

  • Food and Water Watch is working with students throughout the U.S. to take back the tap. They are removing bottled water from campuses and raising awareness.
  • Inside the Bottle: this campaign has current information on student action, community and labor action, and legislative action against the bottled water industry.


Ban or Charge a Fee for Plastic Bags in Your Community – This has been done in communities all around the world.  Ireland charges a 22 euro cent fee for each plastic bag. As a result consumer use has dropped by 90%. In Taiwan, restaurants, supermarkets and convenience stores are required to charge customers for plastic bags and utensils. Italy has banned the distribution of non-biodegradable plastic bags at shops and retail stores. San Francisco banned the use of plastic bags at large supermarkets and chain drugstores, and may extend it to all retailers. You can do the same in your community. Check out the following resources.

  • Become a Bag It Town – Take the challenge to reduce single-use disposables in your town. This site has offered to help 20 towns in the US reach their goal.

Volunteer in Your Community to Clean Up Litter – Take a trash bag and do some community service with friends or family. It’s rewarding!

  • The Ocean Conservancy holds an “International Coastal Cleanup Event” every year on the third Saturday in September. Find out if one happens in your community or plan your own local event. In 2009, volunteers picked up 1.1 million plastic bags and enough cups, plates, knives, forks and spoons for a picnic for 100,000 people.

 

WHAT CAN I DO?

Reduce Your Use of Single-Use Plastics – Here are some alternatives:

  • Re-usable Coffee Mugs – there are a variety of options online. Try Mighty Nest for coffee mugs free of BPA and other toxins.
  • Re-usable Water Bottles – try Klean Kanteen’s stainless steel, BPA-free water bottle.
  • Re-usable To-Go Containers To-Go Ware has bamboo utensil sets and stainless steel containers.

 

Don’t Drink Bottled Water – Bottled water is no better than tap water! Plus it is bad for the environment, costs 2000 times more than the price of tap water, and is subject to less regulations. Here are some resources to make the change:

  • Sign the Pledge to Take Back the Tap – Buy a filter if it’s needed. Then pledge to choose tap water over bottled water whenever possible, fill a reusable bottle with tap water, and support policies that promote clean, affordable tap water for all.
  • Use the Bobble to improve the taste and quality of tap water. It filters tap water, is good for 2 months (or 40 gallons), and is easy to carry around wherever you go. It’s not an ideal solution because it’s still made of plastic, but it’s better than single-use disposable bottles.  A more leveraged action is to improve the quality of the tap water in your community so everyone is happy drinking it.  Join some of the campaigns listed above to help make that happen.

 

Buy Products with Less Packaging – The average American uses 800 lbs. of packaging every year. That’s not sustainable! Find alternatives.

 

Buy Used Products – It’s easier than you think. Find consignment stores in your area or check out these online possibilities:

  • Craigslist – you can search for all kinds of used goods on craigslist including bikes, furniture, musical instruments, computers, appliances and more. You can even post a “wanted” ad if there’s something you’re specifically looking for and can’t find on the site.
  • Freecycle – a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (and getting) stuff for free in their own towns. It’s all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills.

 

Bring Your Own Containers and Bags to the Store – Globally, we use about 500 billion plastic bags each year. You can help bring this number down by shopping with your own re-usable bags.

  • Chico Bags – a compact, reusable, durable light-weight bag. Look for their rePETE logo, which means the bag was manufactured using recycled materials.
  • Eco-Bags – certified organic cotton produce and classic string bags.
  • Blue Lotus – organic cotton produce and bulk bags.

 

Buy Less Stuff – It’s simple. Simply resist the temptation to buy more if you don’t really need it.

 


[1] This is based on global bottled-water demands from 2007. See “Energy Implications of Bottled Water” by P.H. Gleick and H.S. Cooley of the Pacific Institute. Published February, 2009.

[2] The movie “Bag It” explains that we have produced more plastic from 2000-2010, than from 1900-2000.

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