Removing Plastics From Your Home

on April 8, 2013
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removing-plastics

Are you concerned about the many toxins in your home?  Removing plastics has proven to be challenging for me. We’ve taken radical steps to rid our home of these the last few years. I’ve had to change the way I do things to avoid using plastics, especially in the kitchen.  

The more I learn, the more I’m overwhelmed by the toxicity in our homes. We’re supposed to be able to shut the door and feel safe and secure in our homes, but the reality is the atmosphere in our homes is one of the most toxic we are exposed to!

They’re called indoor air pollutants and there are so many it’s impossible to avoid them all. If anyone in your family is experiencing any health problems which you just can’t put your finger on, start by removing as many of the poisons from your home as you possibly can. Start by changing your cleaning products to homemade natural ones, this includes your laundry detergent.

The health of our families is our responsibility. We must do all we know can to make our homes a sanctuary in an uncertain and painful world. Not only can the toxins in our homes cause us health problems, the constant exposure to them in the air of our homes can make those health issues worsen.

Plastics are everywhere in your home. I challenge you to take  just one room in your home and make a list of the plastics in that one room. Be sure to include everything: the casings on your computer, any protective covers for your electronics, picture frames, containers, wallets, backs of your earrings, include everything. If you’re anything like me, you’ll be floored!

With something so overwhelming, how do we begin removing plastics from our home? The best place to start is in the kitchen.

Number one to me was BPA or Bisphenola. It’s the easiest to remove from the home so I started here. From water bottles to baby bottles, from dental fillings to eye glasses, even medical devices, sports equipment…you get the idea. It’s in plastic. Did you know it’s also used to  make the lining of food and drink cans?

What does exposure to BPA do?

BPA disrupts your endocrine system. It interferes with natural behaviors of hormones by acting like them so the production, transportation, actions, and secretion of them are altered. Babies and small children are especially at risk because the endocrine system is directly related to development.

There are health risks for everyone. Among them are reproductive disorders of male and females; asthma; heart disease; Type II diabetes; and brain disorders. These are just a few of a long list of effects of BPA

How do I get rid of it?

The first step is to take all of your plastics out and take a look. Immediately throw away anything with the numbers 3 or 6 on them. Anything with these two numbers should never be used for products which will go in or on your body.

Then look for the numbers 1 and 7. We’re told by the FDA to use products with these numbers “with caution.” We’re also told any plastic bearing the numbers 2, 4, and 5 are “somewhat safe.” What? I’m not OK with “somewhat safe” and “use with caution,” are you?

Plastic is not something we routinely use in our home, but in our society it’s difficult to stay away from. When we do purchase it, we purchase “BPA Free” products. The fact is though, there is no such thing as a BPA Free plastic. Because it’s plastic it has BPA in it, there’s no way around that. All this wording means is there are only trace amounts in the product.

We certainly don’t use plastic wrap. I don’t use aluminum foil either. At first it was a bit difficult to let go of old patterns. Switching to using natural parchment paper and glass bowls wasn’t hard, changing the habits was hard. I find using empty canning jars to store leftovers works great. During my research, I learned it isn’t good to reuse plastic storage/freezer bags because reuse increases the leeching of toxins into what’s in the bag. Oh boy, I did that all the time!

The second thing to come up when talking about toxins in plastic is Phthalates. These are a wide range of compounds produced by the reaction between an acid and an alcohol, they’re called esters. They’re used to make products durable and flexible. The terrible thing about them is they leak into the contents of the container or product itself. From pacifiers, baby care and cosmetics to pvc, they’re everywhere just like BPA.

They are hard to discover in products because manufacturers aren’t required to list phthalates as an ingredient. These are listed in the black hole of invisible terms like natural colors, fragrance, inert ingredients, and such. Some companies are willing to say “phthalate free” on their labels, but it usually appears as small letters in an inconspicuous place. Just like BPA, this doesn’t mean there aren’t any phthalates in the product, it means there are only trace amounts.

Inhalation and ingestion are the two ways we’re exposed to these dangerous esters. They’re in so many things, it’s incredible to consider. From hair spray to iv tubing they’re everywhere. I know it’s scary and overwhelming, but if we’re determined, we can almost completely eliminate their influence in our home. 

What does exposure do to us?

The affects are numerous. Breast cancer in men and women of all ages is documented. Liver cancer is a high risk. Because it has been proven that phthalates are carcinogenic to humans, the cancer risk applies to the whole of a person exposed. Endocrine system and immune system compromise and all the illnesses which result from them is a real threat. The respiratory system is extremely susceptible and birth defects are a major result of exposure.

How do I remove these from my home?

To lessen the risk of inhalation exposure, there are a few tips I would share. Always use products like paint in well ventilated areas. A better option would be to purchase products like these without phthalates. Children should NEVER be in an area where these are being used.

It may surprise you to know air fresheners are the major source of these in air pollution of the home. Even fragrance free products contain them. I use natural air fresheners I make myself. I mix 1 part organic witch hazel with 3 parts water, add 20-30 drops of any organic essential oil or blend of oils I like. I put all these in a spray bottle and shake well. Simply shake well each time and mist the air with a natural, refreshing homemade air freshener.  

If you purchase something which has the new car smell, you’re purchasing a product full of these toxins. I suggest purchasing non-vinyl mini-blinds, shower curtains, raincoats, and the like. If you can’t replace them in your home, keep your home clean. Since these esters are airborne, they cling to dust particles.  Any room which has these products in them should be cleaned regularly using a wet mop, a vacuum with a good HEPA filter, and keep the room dust free. 

removing-plastics

Ingestion exposure is easier to manage. Use glass or stainless steel for food storage, water containers and even baby bottles. I know glass requires more care because of the risk of breaking, but the benefits far outweigh any inconvenience. When we’re out and about, we like carrying water in stainless steel water bottles.

A few other tips for you:

Never heat food in a microwave. I haven’t owned one for years. If you choose to use one, don’t use plastic containers to heat food. 

Don’t put plastic containers in the dishwasher. When plastic is exposed to high heat, toxins leech into what they contain. Think about this next time you leave your plastic water bottle in the car and then drink from it.

Children put things in their mouths, it’s simply what they do as part of their discovery process. This makes it important to purchase products which are non-vinyl. Especially in the case of toys, bottles, sippie cups, and pacifiers.

Most processed foods come wrapped in plastic. We don’t eat processed foods, but I realize many of you do. If you purchase something wrapped in plastic, I would remove a thin outer layer of it before each use.

Remember, as a patient in a medical setting, you have the right to ask for non-pvc tubing and any other equipment which will be used on or in your body. It’s worth noting, many pills come with a protective coating which contains phthalates. There are many non-coated alternatives available.

What does eating a healthy diet have to do with removing plastics from our home?

We should all be eating a healthy diet. I say should be. Eating healthy in this dangerous time of our country’s food supply is eating the old-timers way. How you ask? Avoid foods laden with pesticides and herbicides. Remove processed foods from your diet and consume non-gmo foods.

Eating a healthy diet helps to ensure our body’s natural defenses are strong and working properly. They will process and eliminate many harmful toxins when they’re not overrun with poisons in the food from which they draw their energy. They’ll be in top working order to help with all those things we just can’t avoid.

Limiting our exposure to the toxins all around us is part of the decisions we make every day. There are so many more toxins polluting our homes, it’s overwhelming. The truth we all must face is we can’t remove all of them from our lives. They’re in our clothing, in our food, in our indoor air even more so than our outdoor air. We can however, make conscious decisions each day to do all we know to do to remove them from our bodies and homes. We can only make the best decisions we can with the knowledge and resources available to us and live life to the fullest, every moment.

Do you have experience with removing plastics from your home? What did you do? What made you decided to do it? Please share your story with us.

Safe and Happy Journey,
 
Rhonda and The Pack
 

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8 Comments

  • Michelle Hedgcock

    We’ve been trying to transition from plastic storage bowls to canning jars for leftovers and such. It’s a hard habit to break but I just had a light bulb moment. What I need to do is remove the plastic bowls from the cabinet and replace them with jars! So simple but man it took me a year to get this idea. LOL

    March 3, 2016 at 8:43 pm Reply
  • Lynda

    Do you freeze your leftovers in canning jars?

    July 10, 2016 at 6:32 am Reply
    • Rhonda Crank

      Lynda, We usually don’t have leftovers to freeze, but I have done it. I freeze them for a few hours with the cap off and then put the lid and cap on. Be sure you always have enough head space inn the jar to allow for liquid expansion or the jar will crack. I hope this helps. Let me know if I can help further.

      July 10, 2016 at 10:14 am Reply
  • Miriam Kearney

    I have been reducing plastic in my life for a number of years. I didn’t start because I was worried about toxins – I started because I was tired of putting so much on recycling day – I don’t believe that recycling is the answer to waste – the first “R” should be re-use. So I stopped buying anything that came in plastic which certainly reduced my use of processed foods immediately. I started making my own mayonnaise when Hellmans switched to plastic containers from glass (I wrote and said I was dissappointed and they wrote back and said plastic was so much lighter so think of all the fuel they were saving when shipping their product!). I make my own yogurt so I won’t have to throw out yogurt containers. I just bought some starter so I can make my own sour cream and buttermilk. You’re right about the toxins it just wasn’t my prime motivator. And boy is it hard to avoid plastic even, as you say, we don’t buy much processed food.

    Why do you not use foil?

    December 12, 2016 at 7:34 am Reply
    • Rhonda Crank

      Thank you, Miriam, for sharing your experience with us. To answer your questions about why I don’t use foil, I don’t want the aluminum in our home or body as aluminum is known to damage the body and contributes to neurological issues such as alzheimer disease. Your tips and experience are much appreciated.

      December 12, 2016 at 8:34 am Reply
  • Miriam Kearney

    Oh – forgot to mention – I use the glass-lock containers to store left overs and freeze; my daughter takes them for lunches too. They do have a plastic lid but it doesn’t touch the food and I wash them by hand (the lids). Canning jars would work for freezing and leftovers but they take up more room and don’t stack as neatly. Going the canning jar route is something to think about – I use them exclusively in my pantry just not my freezer.

    December 12, 2016 at 7:36 am Reply
  • Elizabeth

    SO MUCH INFORMATION! Thank you for re-inspiring me. I am always trying to use less and less plastic, but it just mysteriously creeps back into my home. It’s toxic for us and the environment. I’m pretty good in the kitchen, using glass etc, but seriously the amount of toys my kids have that are plastic is just sickening!!

    January 8, 2017 at 5:19 pm Reply
    • Rhonda Crank

      Yes, Elizabeth, it’s so easy to sneak back in. There’s really not escaping this toxic world. Good luck and we’re always here to help!

      January 9, 2017 at 9:59 am Reply

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