Plastic - What Is BPA? What Can We Do About It?
Heard that plastic is bad? Of course you have. Most likely you know that plastics take a very long time to break down. They estimate anything from 200 years to a thousand years, but this is a guess. What can be worse than that? BPA, or bisphenol A to be precise.
BPA is a man-made compound that has been around for over a hundred years and can be found in food, toiletries, lining canned foods, plastic packaging household items, sports equipment and more. Its basic job is to strengthen whatever item it is included in. In plastics, it makes them stronger and more resilient – hardening them to the rigours of daily life, hence BPA has been found in drink bottles and food containers.
In a lot of the items listed above the BPA may not have been sealed in properly, resulting in BPA leakage into food and drink. BPA can mimic human hormones, specifically estrogen the main female hormone and act as an endocrine disrupter1. This means it can block that natural signals that float around your body you need for daily health. Research has also noted other impacts on human health. BPA may cause infertility in men and women2,3. It can have negative effects on babies, increasing incidences of hyperactivity, anxiousness and aggressiveness4. BPA has been linked to heart disease5 and type 2 diabetes6, and may raise the likelihood of obesity7.
Consider the impact on the oceans and marine life. BPA has leached from the plastic waste in the ocean and from its use on epoxy plastic paints on boats. Scientists now report that BPA has infiltrated marine life, affecting a vast array of marine life8.
And let’s face another truth about plastic; it is derived from petroleum, the same source as petrol. Not only does plastic not break down, but its source is environmentally questionable. BPA is being removed from some plastics, though it appears other chemicals just as unhealthy for ingesting via leaching are being added.
What can you do about it?
- Steer clear of packaged foods.
- Reduce plastic use (obviously)
- Use glass where possible.
- Microwaving plastic is a no no.
- Start sourcing and using silicone based products.
Silicone is not silicon which is sourced from silica from sand. Silicone is a synthetic product but touted as being more environmentally friendlier than plastics. Firstly it does not contain BPA or similar chemicals, so there is no leaching issue. It can be chilled in a freezer or heated in an oven, giving it a wider kitchen use, and it is more durable than plastics which increases its useful life, decreasing landfill of quickly discarded plastics.
Silicone, once degraded does not appear to adversely affect, water, air, soil or sediment, which plastics and its additives are known to do9.
Intentionally Sustainable is committed to reducing plastic waste. Please check out our website for more information on what we think are great starting solutions.
Next Blog: Reducing Single Use vs Plastic Free Living