There are 7 types of plastic, all of which leach chemicals in which are harmful to us in one way or another. Having a better understanding about the different types of plastics, what they do to our bodies and why we should stop using them is vital in achieving a successful transition into a zero waste lifestyle:
- Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET): This kind of plastic is typically found in bottles for water, soft drink, sports drinks, juice etc. PET is considered to be one of the ‘safer’ plastics, which is why it is used to package so many of our everyday items but it can leak toxic metal antimony, which is used during the manufacturing process.
- High Density Polyethylene (HDPE): This kind of plastic is typically found in bottles for milk, shampoo and is even used to make plastic bags, cereal box liners and even your bubbas sippy cups! HDPE, like most plastics, has been found to release estrogenic chemicals (a chemical that can mimic the sex hormone estrogen). This is considered a low-hazard plastic even though studies show that these estrogenic chemicals have been linked to a long list of serious health problems in both humans and animals if allowed exposure to it.
- Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC): PVC plastic is quite commonly found in shrink wrap, meat wraps, toys, table clothes and plastic containers used to store meds. PVC, like all plastics, contains a concoction of toxic chemicals including DEHP (a type of phthalate), which is used as a plastic softener. Phthalates are part of a group of “gender-bending” chemicals causing males of many species to become more “female”. These “gender-bending” chemicals have disrupted the endocrine systems of wildlife, this causes genital deformations, low sperm counts, testicular cancer and infertility in a number of species.. such as; polar bears, deer, whales etc. 😦
- Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE); LDPE is used for newspaper bags, bread bags, frsh produce, household garbage, paper milk cartons and both hot and cold beverage cups. This is another plastic that is deemed a low hazard but whilst LDPE does not contain BPA it poses the risk of leaching estrogenic chemicals in which are similar to that of HDPE.
- Polypropylene (PP): PP is used in deli foods, medications, take out meals and yogurt containers. It has been said that PP has a high heat tolerance and therefore is highly unlikely to leach toxic chemicals, a recent study found that this plastic did leach at least two different toxic chemicals.
- Polystyrene (PS) – also known as Styrofoam: This plastic is used to make bowls, plates, cups, take out containers, meet trays and so much more. It is one of the most used plastics which leaves me dumbfounded as Polystyrene leaches styrene which can have a devastating affect on your nervous system and is also linked to cancer. Temperature plays a role in the amount of styrene in which leaches from containers made from PS.. So think twice about using that Styrofoam coffee cup.
- Other: BPA and BPS are known as endocrine disrupters – this means that they mimic and interfere with your body’s hormones and effects your natural endocrine system. Your endocrine system and the hormone in which they release are vital in regulating growth, development (physically and mentally), mood, tissue function, sexual function, metabolism and the reproductive system.