Plastics by Numbers

Good morning and happy weekend!  Today's blog comes on the back of last week's piece when I was talking about building your Summer body in Winter - certain challenges may come up on your quest to refine the thighs, carve your abs and arms and move those stubborn kilograms.  Despite your best efforts, these challenges are most likely in the form of hidden chemistry you may not be aware of that will  be tricking your body into making fat cells - they are also known as plastics.

With current research revealing the potential health dangers of plastics in our day to day lives, it bears a thought as to how much contact we have in any particular day to containers other than the obvious ones.  There has been a lot of fuss over changing from plastic drinking water bottles and baby bottles due to their BPA (Bisphenol A), dioxin and PET (Polyethylene tetraphthalate) levels when used repeatedly, exposed to heat (as in being left in the car) or being frozen.

 Many of you have already made a smart switch to BPA free, stainless steel or glass water bottles but have you considered other sources you are regularly in contact with?  All plastics and their potential toxins are found widely in our community.  BPA free plastics are considered to be more stable than not, but all plastics have the potential to adversely affect your health over a long term exposure.  Phthalates and dioxins from plastic breakdown are currently being researched for their adverse impact on fertility.  Minimising unnecessary exposure is highly recommended.

It is wise to note that BPS is now becoming the new BPA - and the symbols and codes below are a great guide as to what is and isn't considered safe where plastics are concerned.  Don't be mislead - all plastics are potential chemical melting pots, its just that the grade determines how long it takes for that particular plastic to degrade under age, heat and cold changes.  Look for these signs on your plastics and labels.

1. PETE - only intended for one off use as in plastic water bottles, with increased re-use increasing the risk of leaching and bacterial growth.  About 25% is recycled into fleece for garments, carpets and lifejackets.

2. HDPE - High Density Polyethylene - One of the safer forms of plastics - it is used to make rubbish bins, milk bottles, detergent bottles, picnic tables.

3.   PVC - dubbed poison plastic it is commonly used for film wraps like glad wrap, teething rings, children and pets toys and cooking oil bottles.  It is not recyclable and is considered dangerous.


4.  LDPE - considered another less toxic form of plastic, it is used to make squeezable bottles, dry cleaner bags, shopping bags and shrink wrap.  It is often not recycled, but in the event it is, will be used for making tiles, garbage can liners and landscaping boards.

5.  PP - Poly propylene - excellent heat resistance qualities and is often used in yoghurt and margarine tubs, ropes, bottle tops, disposable nappies, potato chip bags and cereal bags to keep things fresh inside! It is considered safe for reuse.

6.  PS - Polystyrene - not widely recycled and found along beaches everywhere - this potential carcinogen is lightweight and not very strong so is broken into smaller pieces frequently.  It is not considered to be a safe plastic and is the container of choice for a lot of fast food outlets and smaller fish and chip shops.

7.  The code for all other plastics - where a category doesn't fit. Code 7's are not considered ideal for reuse, but are often used to make sippy cups, baby teats and car parts.  This category is also often the one used to place BPA and other hormone disrupting plastics into.

Here are some other sources of unnecessary plastic exposure to consider reducing and contribute to a lower toxic load to your body:

    • Shiny receipts – commonly have a BPA covering – opt out of receiving if you don’t need a receipt
    • Insides of soft drink cans – linings are commonly plastic and BPA high
    • Lids from takeaway coffee cups – very high in BPA and pose a particular risk due to the steam from hot liquids.
    • Commercial meat packaging – suggest to buy from the butcher and cook/reheat in glass containers
    • Grain storage containers – aim to switch to glass jars with rubber seals

                 Remember: Plastics high in BPA or BPS do not fare well and can be quite dangerous – where possible recycle, don’t reuse.

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