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that an unborn baby’s exposure to BPA through the mother could be linked to many health problems, including breast cancer later in life.


When plastics are subjected to stress—like heat, light or age—undis- closed additives used in their produc- tion for strength, flexibility and color can leach out and even contaminate lab results, as the University of Al- berta’s Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry found. Such chemicals can migrate into our digestive systems and through our skin; they can also off-gas into the air, according to a recent study by Weber State University’s Energy & Sustain- ability Office, in Ogden, Utah. Plus, unrecycled plastic materials can enter waterways and kill marine life through ingestion or entanglement (ocean gar- bage patches are major examples). Reducing our own plastic footprint can both safeguard family health and prove that we are serious about pres- suring industry to produce less of it. The key, according to Terry, is not to be intimidated or overwhelmed by plastic overload, but persist in taking baby steps (see MyPlasticFreeLife.com).


Milo Cress, of Burlington, Vermont, launched the national Be Straw


Free campaign at age 10, when he realized that restaurants routinely give customers a plastic


straw whether they want it or not.


How to Begin As a starting point, Terry notes that plastic enables the long-distance food distribution system. Reducing food miles associated with our meals helps cut down on the use of plastic. In the kitchen, use airtight stainless steel con- tainers or glass jars or simply refrigerate a bowl of food with a saucer on top to hold leftovers for the next day. Compost food waste. Reuse empty plastic food bags and line garbage cans with old newspapers instead of plastic bags.


Terry cautions, “People assume everything that carries the triangular symbol is accepted at all recycling fa- cilities. This is not the case. What isn’t accepted is landfilled or even inciner- ated.” Also, according to the city of Oakland’s Waste Management Depart- ment, she learned that “Much of what we put out for recycling goes to China, and their processing standards are not as strong as ours.” In Plastic Free, the author pro- vides scores of tips for borrowing, renting and sharing products; buy- ing used plastic equipment if it’s a necessity; and avoiding disposable packaging and paper products. Areas for improvement range from personal care and household cleaning products to bags, bottles, grocery shopping, takeout food, portable leftovers and lunches, plus durable goods. Activ- ists will move on to also participate in area cleanups, donate to green organi- zations and write their legislators.


Randy Kambic, a freelance editor and writer in Estero, Florida, regularly contributes to Natural Awakenings.


natural awakenings


August 2013


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