Plastic by the numbers

I hope you will check out my previous post, “The problem with plastics” for a better understanding of the need to reduce your plastic use in the first place. In addition to all the information I included there, in case I haven’t convinced you yet, please read this Planet Green blog post, “Is plastic making us fat?”

So not only is plastic bad for your health and bad for the environment, it can also make you fat?! What the heck, I’m never using plastic again. The problem with that solution is it’s totally impractical. The fact is that that plastic is everywhere, so avoiding it altogether isn't realistic for most people. There are people who do almost entirely avoid plastic and live to tell – they even share their journey with us. For a look at a life (almost) plastic free, check out fakeplasticfish.com and lifelessplastic.com.

If avoiding plastic completely is not practical for you, what’s the answer? I think it’s to use plastics more wisely and more sparingly. You can reduce your use of disposable plastic, and choose safer plastics, particularly for those items that are likely to come into contact with your mouth, which is the most common way the chemicals in plastic enter our bodies.


The first step to choosing safer plastics is to understand what the numbers represent. So turn your plastic container over, check out the number inside the triangle, and read on to see what those numbers mean.

Safer plastics include:

  • #1 PETE or PET (polyethylene terephthalate) – this plastic is used for most clear beverage bottles, such as water bottles, and two-liter soda bottles. It is one of the most commonly recycled plastics on the planet. The key here is to think about the No. 1 meaning “one-time use”. So don't reuse single-use plastics. They can break down and release chemicals into your food or beverage when used repeatedly.
  • #2 HDPE (high-density polyethylene) – used to make most milk jugs, shampoo bottles, and laundry detergent bottles. Because No. 2 plastic has been found not to leach, Nalgene water bottles are now made from this plastic rather than No. 7 as they were previously.
  • #4 LDPE (low-density polyethylene) – used in most plastic shopping bags, food storage bags, some cling wraps and some squeeze bottles.
  • #5 PP (polypropylene) – used in opaque, hard containers, including some baby bottles, cups and bowls, and reusable storage container (i.e. Tupperware). Drinking straws, yogurt containers, and cottage cheese containers are sometimes made with this.


 

Avoid These Plastics:

  • #3 PVC (polyvinyl chloride) – commonly called “vinyl” is used in commercial plastic wraps and salad dressing bottles, shower curtains, and believe it or not, kids toys, backpacks, lunch bags, and binders. PVC contains phthalate (softeners need to make the plastic bend) and they have been found to interfere with hormonal development. The production of and burning of PVC plastic releases dioxin, a known carcinogen, into the atmosphere. It’s bad for our health and bad for the environment.
  • #6 PS (polystyrene) – used in Styrofoam cups, meat trays and “clam-shell”-type containers. No. 6 plastics can release potentially toxic materials (including styrene), especially when heated. Yep, that’s right, when heated. So that insulated Styrofoam coffee cup and the “to go” container that you put hot food in, well those don’t seem like such a good idea do they?
  • #7 Other  – A wide-range of plastic containers are lumped into this category – basically any plastic not rated 1-6. The plastic to be concerned about in this category are the hard polycarbonate plastic bottles which contain bisphenol-A (BPA). No. 7 plastic is used in some reusable water bottles, baby bottles, and some metal can linings. Soft or cloudy colored plastic is not polycarbonate. Avoid polycarbonate, especially for children's food and drinks. Trace amounts of BPA can migrate from these containers, particularly if used for hot food or liquids.

 

In addition to understanding the numbers, you can also use plastics more safely:

  • Don't microwave in plastic containers. Heat can break down plastics and release chemical additives into your food and drink. Use ceramic or glass instead. Cover food in the microwave with a paper towel instead of plastic wrap.
  • Use plastic containers for cool liquids only, not hot.
  • Don't reuse single-use plastics (the number one – PET plastics). They can break down and release plastics chemicals when used repeatedly.
  • Do not use old, scratched plastic containers. Exposures to plastics chemicals may be greater when the surface is worn down.
  • Wash plastics on the top rack of the dishwasher, farther from the heating element, or by hand.
  • When using an electric mixer, use a glass or metal bowl instead of plastic to avoid chipping bits of plastic into your food.
  • Use wooden cutting boards instead of plastic ones.
  • Pick a cotton shower curtain instead of vinyl.
  • Choose glass baby bottles or BPA-free baby bottles with a clear silicone nipple.
  • Avoid plastic to mouth contact, especially for babies and kids. Give your baby natural teethers like frozen washcloths.
  • Look for toys made of natural materials, like wool, cotton, and uncoated wood.
  • To avoid PVC in school supplies, check out the Center for Health Environment and Justice’s (CHEJ) Back-to-School Guide to PVC-Free School Supplies, which lists the most common back-to-school supplies made out of toxic PVC and suggests safer PVC-free products in over 20 product categories.


Finally, when rethinking and reducing your plastic, remember to recycle any that you don’t need or don’t feel safe using any more. Keep in mind that No. 1 and No. 2 are almost universally recyclable. No. 5 plastics are usually not recyclable in curbside programs. Other numbers depend upon the recycler. To simplify plastics recycling, here is the basic rule of thumb – if the plastic bottle has a neck that's smaller than the body and has "alor2" symbol on the bottom, nearly every recycling program will accept it. But please remove the caps from the bottles and throw them in the trash or participate in a program to recycle them. If left in with the recycling, those little caps can ruin a whole batch of recyclables.

Learn more about Allison at   

Related posts:

Wellness with @IvyJoeva: Where the Good Guys Are (Video)
Wellness with @IvyJoeva: Silence Your Inner Critic (Video)
15 Photos of the Most Amazing College Dorm You Have Ever Seen

45 Comments

  • This website is amazing. I will tell about it to my friends and anybody that could be interested in this subject. Great work guys!

  • This website is amazing. I will tell about it to my friends and anybody that could be interested in this subject. Great work guys!

  • This website is amazing. I will tell about it to my friends and anybody that could be interested in this subject. Great work guys!

  • This website is amazing. I will tell about it to my friends and anybody that could be interested in this subject. Great work guys!

  • This website is amazing. I will tell about it to my friends and anybody that could be interested in this subject. Great work guys!

  • This website is amazing. I will tell about it to my friends and anybody that could be interested in this subject. Great work guys!

  • This is cool! Your information is astounding :D I will tell about it to my friends and any person that could be enticed by this object. Great work guys!!

  • Wow! This website is amazing. I will recommend it to my friends and anybody that could be interested in this subject. Great work guys <3

  • I am regular reader, how are you everybody? This paragraph posted at this website
    is in fact pleasant.

  • Hello this is somewhat of off topic but I was wanting to know if blogs use WYSIWYG editors
    or if you have to manually code with HTML. I’m starting a blog soon but have no coding knowledge so I wanted to get guidance from
    someone with experience. Any help would be enormously appreciated!

  • I have read so many articles regarding the blogger lovers but this paragraph is genuinely
    a pleasant article, keep it up.

  • I’m not that much of a internet reader to be honest but your
    sites really nice, keep it up! I’ll go ahead and bookmark your
    website to come back later. Many thanks

  • For most up-to-date information you have to pay a quick visit the web and
    on web I found this site as a most excellent web site for
    most up-to-date updates.

  • Hmm it seems like your site ate my first comment (it was
    extremely long) so I guess I’ll just sum it up what I wrote and
    say, I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog. I as well am an aspiring blog writer but I’m still new to the whole
    thing. Do you have any suggestions for novice blog writers?
    I’d really appreciate it.

  • When someone writes an paragraph he/she maintains the image of
    a user in his/her brain that how a user can be aware of it.
    Therefore that’s why this post is outstdanding. Thanks!

  • Hi there! I just wanted to ask if you ever have any problems
    with hackers? My last blog (wordpress) was hacked and I ended up losing a
    few months of hard work due to no backup. Do you have any solutions to prevent hackers?

  • My brother suggested I might like this web site. He was totally right.
    This submit actually made my day. You cann’t consider simply how so much time I
    had spent for this information! Thank you!

  • I every time spent my half an hour to read this web site’s posts all the time
    along with a cup of coffee.

  • Heya i’m for the first time here. I found this board and I
    find It really useful & it helped me out much. I hope to give something back and aid others like you aided me.

  • Nice post. I used to be checking continuously this weblog and I’m inspired!
    Very useful info particularly the last part :) I handle such info a lot.
    I used to be seeking this certain info for a long time.

    Thanks and best of luck.

  • It’s impressive that you are getting ideas from this post as well as from
    our argument made here.

  • 2. Hope to see more of your work soon.

  • Hello would you mind sharing which blog platform you’re using?
    I’m looking to start my own blog soon but I’m having a hard time making a decision between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal.
    The reason I ask is because your design and style seems different then most
    blogs and I’m looking for something unique.
    P.S Sorry for being off-topic but I had to ask!

  • I’m really enjoying the design and layout of your blog. It’s a very easy on the eyes which makes it much
    more pleasant for me to come here and visit more often. Did you
    hire out a designer to create your theme? Superb work!

  • Hi would you mind letting me know which webhost you’re
    using? I’ve loaded your blog in 3 completely different internet browsers and I must say this blog loads a lot faster then most.
    Can you suggest a good hosting provider at a fair price? Thanks,
    I appreciate it!

  • I have read some just right stuff here. Certainly
    value bookmarking for revisiting. I wonder how so much effort you set to make the
    sort of fantastic informative website.

  • Excellent post. I used to be checking constantly this blog and I’m inspired!
    Extremely helpful information specially the closing part :
    ) I handle such info much. I was seeking this certain info for a long
    time. Thanks and best of luck.

  • Post writing is also a fun, if you know afterward you can write otherwise
    it is complex to write.

  • I like this blog very much, Its a rattling nice position to read and get information.

  • Magnificent beat ! I wish to apprentice while you amend your website, how could i subscribe for
    a blog site? The account helped me a acceptable deal.
    I had been a little bit acquainted of this your broadcast offered bright clear idea

  • I constantly emailed this website post page to all my contacts, for the reason that if like to read it next my friends will too.

  • I needed to thank you for this wonderful read!!
    I absolutely enjoyed every little bit of it. I’ve got you bookmarked to
    look at new things you post…

  • This design is spectacular! You most certainly know how to
    keep a reader amused. Between your wit and your videos, I was almost moved to start my own blog (well, almost…HaHa!) Excellent
    job. I really loved what you had to say, and more than that, how you presented it.
    Too cool!

  • Quality content is the crucial to invite
    the visitors to pay a visit the website, that’s what this web site is providing.

  • Thanks for one’s marvelous posting! I definitely enjoyed reading it,
    you might be a great author. I will be sure to bookmark your blog and will often come back at some point.
    I want to encourage you to definitely continue your great posts,
    have a nice holiday weekend!

  • Admiring the commitment you put into your site and detailed information you provide.
    It’s awesome to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the same out of
    date rehashed information. Wonderful read!
    I’ve saved your site and I’m including your RSS feeds to my Google account.

    Gamefly 3 month free trial

  • Spot on with this write-up, I truly believe this amazing site needs much more attention. I’ll
    probably be returning to read through more, thanks for the info!

  • Very good write-up. I certainly love this site.
    Continue the good work!

  • I’m truly enjoying the design and layout of your blog.

    It’s a very easy on the eyes which makes it much more pleasant for me to come here and visit more often. Did you
    hire out a developer to create your theme? Excellent work!

  • Hmm is anyone else experiencing problems with the pictures on this blog loading?
    I’m trying to determine if its a problem on my end or if it’s the
    blog. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

  • Heya i am for the first time here. I found this board and I to find It truly useful & it helped me out much.
    I’m hoping to give one thing again and aid others such as you
    helped me.

  • Hi there, You’ve done an incredible job. I’ll definitely digg it
    and personally suggest to my friends. I’m sure they will be benefited
    from this site.

  • Pretty nice post. I simply stumbled upon your weblog and wanted to say
    that I have truly loved surfing around your blog posts.
    In any case I’ll be subscribing in your feed and I hope
    you write again very soon!

  • I got this web page from my pal who told me on the topic of this
    web site and now this time I am browsing this web page and reading very informative articles or reviews here.

  • If some one needs expert view about blogging and site-building then i
    suggest him/her to go to see this blog, Keep up the
    pleasant job.