Some sensible, reasonable advice to help to avoid a growing problem of food contamination from the packaging of mainly processed foods. The main article below particularly points to the ever-growing problem of micro-plastics in our oceans.
6 Ways to Use Less Plastic
Source: Consumer Reports
While it’s practically impossible to eliminate plastic from modern life, there are a number of steps you can take right now to cut back.
Do: Drink tap water.
Don’t: Rely on bottled water.
Water from plastic bottles has about double the microplastic level of tap water on average, according to a 2018 study published in the journal Frontiers in Chemistry. So unless your tap water is contaminated with unsafe elements, such as lead, it’s probably best to drink tap. Fill up a metal reusable bottle for when you go out. You can always filter your tap water. Depending on the filter, that may further reduce microplastic levels. (Check CR’s ratings of water filters.)
Do: Heat food in or on the stove, or by microwaving in glass.
Don’t: Microwave in plastic.
Some heated plastics have long been known to leach chemicals into food. So if you’re warming up food, use a pan in the oven or on the stove, or if you’re microwaving, use a glass container. Also, avoid putting plastics in the dishwasher because of the high heat involved in cleaning.
Do: Buy and store food in glass, silicone, or foil.
Don’t: Store food in plastic, especially plastic that may contain harmful chemicals.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has said that plastic food containers with the recycling codes 3, 6, and 7 may contain potentially harmful chemicals, unless they’re labeled “biobased” or “greenware.” Don’t store food in these types of containers. Instead, use containers made of glass or silicone, or wrap your food in aluminum foil. If you’re storing food in or eating food out of plastic containers, know that plastics with recycling codes 1 and 2 are more likely to be recyclable—though they are usually recycled into lower-quality plastics. And there still may be harmful or unknown chemicals in any type of plastic.
Do: Eat fresh food as much as possible.
Don’t: Rely on processed food wrapped in plastic.
The more processed or packaged a food is, the higher the risk that it contains worrisome chemicals. Food cans are often lined with bisphenol A (or similar compounds). Buy fresh food from the supermarket, and—as much as possible—try to use refillable containers if your market allows. (Of course, with shopping made difficult by the coronavirus pandemic, prioritize your health and shop however is most feasible and safest.) Certain markets let you fill up cardboard or reusable containers with bulk items and weigh them, or you can use your own mesh bags for produce. Raw meat and fish need to be kept separate for safety reasons, but ask the store fishmonger or butcher to wrap these foods in wax paper instead of plastic. Take cloth—not plastic—reusable bags to the store to take your groceries home.
Do: Vacuum regularly.
Don’t: Allow household surfaces to get dusty.
The dust in your house could be loaded with microplastics and chemicals that are found in plastic, such as phthalates. Cleaning up dust may help reduce the amount of plastics you inhale, especially if you are stuck inside for long periods of time during a period of social distancing. CR recommends vacuuming regularly with a HEPA filter, which is best for trapping dust. (Check CR’s ratings of vacuums.)
Do: Work with your community.
Don’t: Assume your impact is limited to what you do in your personal life.
Legislation to limit the use of single-use plastics and plastic production may pull the biggest levers, but joining forces with community-level recycling groups can truly make a difference. Look for so-called zero-waste groups, which can offer guidelines for how to recycle or compost all your garbage—and which lobby for local rules that can restrict throwaway items. When possible, shop at markets that source goods locally, so they don’t require as much packaging and shipping. Seek out groups such as Upstream, a nonprofit working to create reusable takeout packaging for restaurants. And when possible, educate yourself about and support any city, county, and state legislation limiting single-use plastic
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