End Plastics

7 Ways to Avoid Eating Plastics This Earth Day

Earth Day is celebrated all over the world every April 22 with more than one billion people taking the time to advocate for the planet and the health of all living things. From joining the Great Global Clean Up, to backing calls for the teaching of climate education in every school, to signing the Global Plastic Treaty – there are endless ways to get involved.

Each year Earth Day has a theme, set by EARTHDAY.ORG – the organization created by the same people who invented and orchestrated the first Earth Day 54 years ago. This year’s theme is Planet vs. Plastics. Why?

Because plastic pollutes our planet and its production produces greenhouse gasses (GHGs) that contributes to climate change. Right now, the manufacture of plastics accounts for 4% of GHG emissions but if we continue our present plastic producing trajectory this could triple by the year 2060.

Plastics are made from oil, and are therefore a part of the fossil fuel industry. The vast majority of plastic is never recycled but instead contributes to an epic waste crisis as well as killing wildlife. Now, there’s growing evidence we are inhaling and ingesting tiny particles of plastics, known as microplastics, as well as toxic chemicals leaching out of them.

Humans are not designed to ingest plastics, so it’s not surprising that there is growing evidence of associated health risks. Research suggests the health implications presented by microplastics and their additive chemicals are particularly relevant to babies both before and after birth. In one recent study, 100 percent of placentas tested had microplastics. 

It’s not just babies that are impacted; some studies report finding associations between microplastics and specific cancers, Alzheimer’s and a new study of heart patients undergoing plaque removal surgery found polyethylene microplastics in nearly 60% of them.

We will likely never be able to limit ingesting and inhaling plastics completely but here are some tips to help mitigate your intake:

Limiting plastics on the menu:

  1. Avoid eating too much red meat. There’s growing evidence red meat contains plastic particles and shellfish consume microplastics which then remain in their digestive tracts!  Aim, to make wise protein choices!
  2. Try to sweep or vacuum as much as possible in your home because dust is full of plastic fibers and particles.
  3. We all know single-use plastic water bottles are bad for the environment.  But, now there’s new evidence the water in single use plastic bottles can contain up to 240 000 nano particles of plastic per bottle.
  4. Try to avoid microwaving your food in plastic containers because the heat releases plastic chemicals, like BPA, into your food.
  5. Use as few toiletries as possible because they often contain plastic chemicals like phthalates. Plus, the plastic packaging used in the beauty and personal-care market creates vast amounts of plastic pollution. In 2018, 7.9 BILLION rigid units of plastic packaging were created in the US alone!
  6. Some studies have found leafy vegetables contain less microplastics than root vegetables, so opt to include them in your recipes.
  7. Finally avoid wearing polyester, it’s a textile made of plastic which sheds microplastic fibers you will end up breathing in.

The one key thing ALL of us can do this Earth Day to ensure we ALL cut back on our plastic consumption is to call for governments around the world negotiating on the UN Global Plastic Treaty to drastically limit plastic production by 60% by 2040. 

This year, these critically important UN led negotiations are taking place in Ottawa, Canada, on April 22, which is of course Earth Day!