The pesky stuff is everywhere, even where we can’t see it. Landfills overflowing with plastic bags that will hang around for the next thousand years or so provide enough warning to make us think twice before opting for plastic bags at the grocery store – but how else can we reasonably cut down on our plastic consumption?
Well, one trend in reducing single-use plastics (which very rapidly contribute to plastic waste) is turning to reusable, harder plastics. Which is better for us and the environment, right? Not exactly.
Those reusable plastic products will one day be disposed of and they have a much longer degradation timeline (think 1,000 years, minimum). But plastic (reusable or not) isn’t just bad for the environment, it’s not great for our health, either. And as we always discuss, when it comes to your health in preconception, pregnancy, and postpartum — that can have a direct impact on baby too.
So, let’s talk about Bisphenol-A (commonly known as BPA).
It’s a well-known culprit and marketing buzzword that we now associate with the toxic nature of many plastic products. You’ve probably seen reusable water bottles proudly displaying “BPA-free” stickers that seem to shout “Hey, this is safe! Buy me!” But hold up, because that may not necessarily be true.
Once the public started to fear BPA a few years ago, manufacturers had to start making stronger plastics using something else. That’s resulted in over 50 (and counting) alternatives, such as Bisphenol-S, Bisphenol-F… you get the idea. Because these new synthetic iterations of BPA are released so quickly, researchers can’t keep up with testing long-term effects – which means we don’t really know how safe they actually are. But what we do know is that they’re essentially very similar in structure to BPA, and they likely carry some of the same risks.
So what are the risks of these reusable plastics?
Countless studies have shown that BPA is toxic to the human body and affects the brain and reproductive system, among other things. It’s also been linked to fertility issues, miscarriage, and behavioral problems in children. According to researcher Cheryl Rosenfeld, Bisphenol-S and other synthetic iterations of the chemical “can penetrate through the maternal placenta, so whatever is circulating in the mother’s blood can be easily transferred to the developing child.”
So while we’re not entirely sure what the risks of these chemicals are, we know they’re probably not great, and this is one of those areas that it’s best to play it safe (especially if you’re pregnant, trying to get pregnant, or breastfeeding).
In honor of Plastic-free July – and in the interest of our collective health and that of our planet – here are five simple yet impactful ways to cut down on your plastic consumption this month (and always!):
We buy it in plastic, and we often store it in plastic. Cut it out at the source buy buying loose fruits and vegetables, and purchasing dry goods like beans, lentils, oats, and rice in the bulk aisle. Head to the grocery store prepared with reusable canvas shopping bags, jars for the bulk aisle, and reusable produce bags (these are totally optional–just wash your produce thoroughly once you get home!). Then store your leftovers in reusable glass containers.
Tampons & Pads
Tampons are packaged in plastic, have plastic applicators, and often include a plastic layer in the absorbent material. No thanks! Ditch disposable tampons and pads and try out reusable options: if you’re a fan of tampons, try a reusable menstrual cup, and if you’re a pad-lover, try reusable ones (they don’t feel gross, and they’re up to 4 times as absorbent as disposable ones!)
If you’re still using disposable plastic water bottles, we need to have a chat. Do yourself (and the planet) a favor by investing in a reusable option (that doesn’t boast reusable plastic either). We particularly love stainless steel because it keeps your water cold (or your coffee hot!).
Nappies & Wipes
How many nappies do you go through in a week? If it’s more than you’d care to count, we feel you. All those nappies and wipes really add up, and so does your plastic consumption–so this Plastic-free July, give more eco-friendly options a try. We love these nappies made from chlorine-free wood pulp and free of plastic, and they’re a perfect pair for these 100% biodegradable, 0% plastic baby wipes.
Babies have their toys in their mouths about 80% of the time, so it’s incredibly important to make sure those toys don’t contain anything potentially harmful. Try out more environmentally friendly options like these wooden clutching toys and plastic-free sea life toys for bathtime.
For more practical tips to keep you and your family healthy, download the Baby2Body app for free today.