When food comes into contact with certain plastics, these chemicals can leech into your meal and end up in your body.
Unfortunately, even plastic deemed “food safe” are actually known endocrine disruptors (1).
The most well-known harmful plastics are Bisphenol-A (BPA) and phthalates, which have terrible reproductive and developmental effects, including cancer.
1. Forget the Packaging
Instead of storing your greens in ziplock bags, wrap your zucchini, cucumber, parsnips, leeks, green beans, carrots and lettuce in clean, damp towels and store them in your crisper.
This will keep your veggies crisp and fresh for much longer. Just make sure to use clean towels.
2. Stop Buying Condiments
If you can, buy condiments sold in glass containers instead of the classic plastic bottle.
You can also make your own salad dressing and ketchup and store in a mason jar. You can even find specialty lids online to drizzle your favorite vinaigrette with ease.
3. Ditch Plastic Containers
Fatty, salty, or acidic foods increase chemical leeching cause by plastic food storage. Luckily, you can easily avoid contamination by swapping plastic containers with glass jars and lunch boxes. You can also use wooden, ceramic and stainless steel kitchen ware to keep chemicals at bay.
4. Avoid Canned Beans
Most canned tomato and beans are sold in BPA-lined cans. While some companies have move towards BPA-free packaging, these have wet to be tested and determined safe.
Instead of grabbing a can, buy dried beans and soak them overnight. You can then boil them for an hour or pressure cook them for 10 minutes or so. Once cooked, the beans can be frozen for future use (3).
5. Skip the Produce Bag
Most grocery stores prepackage produce in Styrofoam and plastic wrap or plastic bags and boxes. When they aren’t packaged, grocery stores always have thin plastic bags to keep items “clean” and separate from other produce in your cart. Instead of these one-use bags, bring your own cloth produce bags, which can be machined washed and reused.
When it comes to dried goods, buy in bulk and bring your own glass jars when you go shopping. Just have the clerk pre-weigh your containers and carry them in a wine bottle bag or box with compartments, which you can buy at your local liquor store.
Hygiene products and cosmetics are so full of chemicals nowadays that the Environmental Working Group has created an entire database on the subject.
Many well-known products are loaded with carcinogens and endocrine disruptors. These chemical are absorbed into your skin and into your bloodstream with every use.
6. Avoid Microbeads
Microbeads are tiny plastic balls used in toothpaste, exfoliating cleansers and acne products. These beads are washed down the sink and go through water processing before making their way into our lakes and oceans.
These beads are too small to be cleared during processing and ends up in major waterways (5). These are then eaten by fish and pass along the food chain, slowly moving towards humans.
Although you probably won’t see beads in your fish filet, you may ingest toxic substances like PCBs, which are attracted to the beads (6).
Instead of contributing to this problem by buying exfoliating products, which read “polyethylene or polypropylene” on the label, make your own toothpaste and exfoliate your skin with natural, biodegradable products like coffee grounds, sea salt, baking soda and sugar.
7. Stop Buying Shampoo
Big name shampoos and conditioners are full of carcinogenic and questionable chemicals that seep into your scalp.
Instead, comb extra-virgin coconut oil through your hair and let it sit for ten minutes to precondition it.
Wash it out with castille soap and rinse thoroughly before drying. You can also go no-poo by swapping shampoo and conditioner for baking soda and vinegar.
Like personal care items, many products used to keep your home fresh and clean contain harmful chemicals.
They also emit harmful fumes that lurk in your house and slowly poison your family.
8. Unplug Your Air Freshener
Air freshener, like scented candles, contain harmful artificial perfumes that can cause respiratory distress. Plug-in air fresheners are also made of plastics that leech into the perfume even faster when exposed to the heat that help diffuse the oil (7).
Instead, fill a glass jar with water and a few drops of your favorite essential oil. Next, place clean twigs or dowels in the jar to make a quick oil diffuser.
9. Forget Lysol and Mr Clean
Avoid store-bought cleaning products that emit toxic fumes by making your own cleaning spray with diluted vinegar and baking soda.
You can even use it to clean your sink, toilet and bathtub just as effectively as chemical products. Just make sure to store it glass instead of a plastic spray bottle.
10. Change Your Detergent
While many natural companies make non-toxic laundry detergents, these are often stored and sold in plastic. Even the soap sold in bulk in health food stores is stored in large plastic barrels.
If you want minimal packaging and plastic contamination, try soap nuts. These organic nuts are grown and harvested in central and south Asia and are completely non-toxic.
Each nut contains saponin, a natural detergent, which can be used for up to 10 loads of laundry. The nuts are stored in cloth bags and be composted after use.