Book Review: Plastic Purge by Michael SanClements
This week, I finally had the opportunity to read Plastic Purge by Michael SanClements. This book has some enlightening information about the history of plastic and the effects of its overabundance and use today. If you’re at all interested in the zero waste movement, I’d definitely recommend adding this book to your “to read” list!
Good Plastic vs. Bad & Ugly Plastic
In reading this book, I learned that there’s the good, bad, and the ugly when it comes to plastics. We should certainly be appreciative of the introduction of plastics into our lives, because there are many good plastic creations! Plastic is used in the production of many medical devices that help save lives as well as technological gadgets including our cell phones and computers. Without the introduction of plastics, we would have a lot less advancements in the fields of medicine and technology. Not all plastic is bad.
However, there are also a lot of negative effects from the bad and ugly plastics. SanClements describes the bad plastics as plastics that we reuse but unfortunately harmful chemicals fill these plastics. Examples of these plastics include plastic food storage containers and shower curtains. Ugly plastics are lazy and convenience plastics like the billions of disposable plastic bags we use in the world today. Plastics are often harmful for the environment, because we don’t properly recycle them. They get thrown into landfills or worse, litter our oceans and rivers. Just as importantly, many plastics contain nasty chemicals such as BPA and phthalates that are harmful to our health. These chemicals are endocrine disruptors which means that they interfere with our reproductive, developmental, neurological, and immune systems. No good!
The invention of plastic was an exciting and positive step! It replaced the use of ivory (harvested from elephant tusks) as a product material. However, the production and demand for plastics has become out of control within the past fifty years and now negatively affects us and our planet.
After learning that plastic can be super harmful, this book lists some great ways to avoid these plastics in your daily life. We are constantly exposed to plastics each day so it’s encouraging to know there are ways to limit this amount.
Did you know many plastic products contains harmful chemicals?
BPA and phthalates are what we need to look out for when purchasing plastic goods. Hard plastics often contain the chemical ingredient, BPA. Did you know that BPA was originally a hormone for cattle and poultry production and an estrogen replacer for women? We don’t want that in our bodies… Phthalates are used to make plastics more durable and are often found in fragrances. Studies have shown a connection with phthalates exposure and reproductive abnormalities especially newborn male reproductive systems. The majority of Americans today have both of these chemicals in their systems, because it’s really difficult to avoid them. Here are some examples of exposure to these chemicals:
Common products that contain BPA
airline boarding passes, canned foods, canned soda & beer, microwaving foods packaged in plastic, and receipts.
Common products that contain phthalates
shower curtains, rubber duckies, car deodorizers, lotions, detergents, lipstick, nail polish, hairspray, paint, vitamins, furniture, food packaging, and air fresheners.
Best Tips to Reduce Plastics in Your Daily Life
It’s amazing how common these chemicals are in everyday products. Fortunately, Plastic Purge lists some great ways to decrease our plastic footprint.
- Shop at local farmers markets to avoid plastics
- Use reusable grocery bags. ** I thought I was making a smart choice in using paper bags instead of plastic. However, I learned that paper bags require more energy for production and cause more pollution according to the EPA.**
- Use reusable produce bags – they are machine washable! or don’t use bags at all in the produce section.
- Shop in the bulk foods section, you can use reusable bulk bags to eliminate plastic waste
- Avoid canned foods because of their BPA lining
- Avoid frozen processed foods, because microwaveable meals usually have plastic packaging. Heating plastics can increase chances of chemicals leaching into your food.
- Use mason jars and pyrex containers for food storage instead of plastic tupperwares
- Stop buying bottled water. Instead use glass or stainless steel water bottles.
- Don’t buy a BPA free water bottle, because the common alternative plastic chemical to BPA is just as bad.
- Purchase cloth shower curtains or safer alternative plastic curtains (this includes PEVA, EVA, or HDPE)
- Buy bar soap instead of plastic bottled body wash
- Who knew there’s bar shampoo?! Something new and interesting to try that will cut back on your plastic footprint.
- Buy recyclable and recycled toothbrushes. There are some made of bamboo, like these.
- Use cloth diapers to decrease waste and save up to $2000 in a year.
- Buy glass baby bottles and rubber pacifiers
- Don’t send your kid to school with juice boxes… we throw out four billion juice boxes each year and they are very hard to recycle because of their layered components.
- Decline receipts whenever possible because they have a huge amount of BPA (250 to 1,000 times greater than BPA in canned foods)
This is just a basic overview of what I learned from Plastic Purge. I encourage you to find this awesome book at your local library, and check it out. It’s a captivating read that has some awesome tips to better your own health and be kind to the environment!
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