17 Easy Ways to Reduce Plastic Exposures

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Plastics are amazing.  They’re key enabler to our transportation, safety, security, shelter, communication, and entertainment.  It is plastic that created the keyboard I’m using to type this post.  It’s plastic that created the chair on which I am seated.  It’s even plastic that goes into some of the fibers in my carpet and clothing.  I am most assuredly not anti-plastic.  Having an autoimmune disease has really changed the way I look at the things in my environment.  I’ve started considering the toxic load in my body.  My liver has a lot of other things to worry about besides the things I consciously put in it.  There’s cell waste, metabolic byproducts, and gut microbiota waste, and that doesn’t include the chemical load in food.  Even organic food can have pesticides, herbicides, and preservatives.  But then, our society is full of other chemicals that get into your body that your liver is hard at work filtering out of your system and disposing.  A good number of these chemicals have their genesis in plastics – those plastics used in packaging, storing, cooking, and transporting food and beverages as well as plastics and polymers used in personal care products applied to the skin. Some of these chemicals have been shown to cause prostate and breast cancer, diabetes, obesity, altered immune function, disrupted sexual development, learning problems, and altered brain structure.  Even the FDA is now starting to acknowledge the harmful effects of plastics in our food and cosmetics.

There’s a lot of research, and you can look and read to your heart’s content.  I advise you to look to the sponsors of any research.  You’ll find that research studies funded by plastics industries never show impacts, yet independent studies often show plastics are harmful.  But, that’s not my focus today.  Today I want to give you some great ways you can reduce your plastic footprint, and at the same time, reduce your personal exposure to plastics and their byproducts.

  1. Swap out plastic containers for reusable ones made of steel, glass, wood, paper, or ceramic. No need to invest in a major kitchen overhaul.  Just replace one by one as your plastics get older – especially those that are food-stained already.  Under no circumstances should you EVER heat foods in plastic containers (even the ‘steam-in-bag’ frozen veggies).  Always use glass to heat foods.
  2. Purchase foods in glass or metal containers rather than plastic, and then reuse those containers for other storage after the original product is used. Sauces, oil, vinegars, and salad dressings are key products in this category. But, also look at spices and flavorings, cleaning products, and beverages.
  3. Purchase and carry with you durable flatware and drinking straws. I use a set of bamboo flatware and a stainless drinking straw that I purchased from Amazon. I keep a set in my car and in my handbag so that I’m ready for eating on the go.
  4. Similarly, use reusable plates and cups instead of disposable ones. This is especially important when you take food somewhere.  Use glass or metal storage containers for your lunch
  5. Compost your food waste so you use fewer plastic garbage bags. Then, you can use the compost to nourish your herb garden.  Even small composters are beneficial!
  6. Take your reusable shopping bags with you to the store. Also, set a reminder to wash them every couple of weeks, or when they are soiled.  Look at reusable produce bags, and bulk foods bags too!
  7. Purchase products packed in boxes or paper bags rather than plastic bags (like laundry detergent, pasta, chips)
  8. Buy milk and beverages in cartons instead of plastic bottles
  9. Store leftovers in glass containers instead of plastics
  10. Purchase meat and cheese from the deli and request it be wrapped in paper instead of plastic bags
  11. Use bar soap (actual soap, not ‘body bars’) instead of liquid body wash and shampoo
  12. Shop at your local farmer’s market to get fresh products in less packaging! Most farmers will also appreciate your re-using berry and egg containers to reduce their cost and plastic footprint, too.
  13. Choose clothing made of natural fibers instead of synthetics (cotton, wool, hemp, bamboo, linen), or purchase your clothing second hand to reduce the amount of synthetic fabrics produced
  14. Download or stream your music and movies instead of purchasing discs
  15. Use pencils or refillable pens instead of disposable writing instruments
  16. Instead of getting takeout food, take the time to sit and enjoy your meal using the reusable dishes and flatware
  17. Throw a ‘zero waste party’ with your friends and family to see how many great new ideas you come up with for reducing waste and plastic use!
  18. BONUS IDEA – Commit to making one day a month a zero-plastics day.  Do not purchase, use, or discard any disposable plastic items.  Make everything you use re-usable or compostable.

As you’re making the shift away from plastic, make sure you recycle the plastics you find with the appropriate recycling center.  And, make a note in your Autoimmune Tracking Log to see if reducing or eliminating plastics makes a difference for you.

DISCLAIMER: This post contains affiliate links.  Purchasing products through these links provides me with a small commission on the sale of the product.  It does not increase your cost, but provide a small source of income to support my mission of ensuring all moms with autoimmune disease live the healthy and energetic lives they want.