Plastic is the most popular packaging material in the world due to the convenience it offers. It is undoubtedly a convenient killer that kills slowly. Owing to its chemical composition, it can be easily moulded into a variety of shapes with a broad range of flexibility and leak proof properties. Right from storage containers at home to industrial packaging, plastic is everywhere.
As a user, have you taken a closer look at the ways you have been using plastic in your daily life? The most common plastic item around all of us is the water bottle. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes and even colours. In fact, every time you buy a bottle of packaged water, it is invariably available in a plastic bottle. Although we all have come to believe that packaged water is clean, healthy and a good option, research has revealed shocking facts that go against any plastic packaging. Are we making a healthy choice? Plastic is a threat, not only to our health but the environment as well. Since plastic has become an integral part of our lives, it is important to take informed decisions while buying as well as using plastic in any form.
Check out the infographic below to know more about facts and hazards of plastic!
Infographic Source: 21bottle.com
Read on to find out how plastic slowly poisons our body:
- Chemicals present in plastic can cause hormonal imbalance – Until a few years back, it was believed that Bisphenol-A (BPA) is a chemical present in plastic that mimics sex hormone estrogen. That led to plastic brands manufacture BPA-free plastic bottles, but even the BPA-free plastic releases estrogenic chemicals. There are several other chemicals present in plastic that act like hormone disruptor. In fact, most plastics are known to leach hormone-like chemicals. These chemicals typically block the hormones or mimic them. This abnormal activity leads to hormonal imbalance which can further lead to numerous reproductive disorders.
A large number of women in US report of high BPA in their body leading to disorders in the endocrine system. To avoid the risk of hormonal imbalances in the body, usage of plastic must be minimised. Especially, exposing the plastic bottle to heat or ultraviolet rays can be very dangerous. Therefore, it is a good idea to replace plastic water bottles with the metal water bottles like that made of steel, copper or even a glass water bottle can be a good idea (except the weight and fragility).
- PET bottles contain cancer-causing substances –PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) bottles were launched as a healthy packaging option. Research, however, shows that the plastic used in manufacturing these bottles is not totally benign as it contains substances like benzene and arsenic. These substances are known to have carcinogenic properties. When water is stored in the PET bottles for long, the chemicals may leach into the water. The leaching activity is known to be higher when the bottle is exposed to sunlight.
Due to the ease of handling, we greatly favour the PET bottles. Children are especially fond of these bottles in bright colours. But is the fun worth it? Think before you buy a PET bottle again!
- Packaged water bottles – Every time you are outside and need water, you trust a bottle of packaged water as the healthiest option. But do you know that there is no authority that regulates the quality/ hygiene factor of these bottled water? The companies bottling water are not bound by law to provide safety testing results to consumers or any other authority. Researchers have found that one in every four bottled water is the tap water. That means you could be allowing microbes inside your body unknowingly. A disrupted body system may be a very late alarm in such situations.
A glass of clean tap water is any day cheaper than that of a packaged/ treated water. One needs to, however, be cautious that the tap water is indeed clean. The best bet is to consume water from a tap that fetches underground water instead of water from a storage tank.
- Reusing Plastic bottles for long leads to leaching of chemicals – Plastic bottles of packaged water are often reused in households not realising the impact it has on a human body. Those bottles are not made for reuse and therefore carry an instruction ‘Crush after use’ which should be a strict warning. The plastic used for such bottles aren’t meant for long-term use. They contain chemicals that readily leach into stored water upon subsequent uses. With the constant leaching, plastic gets degraded and is evident from the way these bottles turn fragile only after few uses.
While reusing old stuff is a great life hack, but with plastics, it is a big NO. If you have to buy a bottle of packaged water, make sure that you crush it immediately after use. Doing so reduces the chances of harmful chemicals entering your body.
- Disposal of Plastic – Plastic does not degrade naturally. When discarded, they tend to remain just there for many years to come, thereby polluting the landfills and clogging the drains. Plastic should not be burnt either as it causes toxic fumes to mix in the air and are robust enough to deplete the ozone layer. With soil and air getting polluted, there is no respite for the human body but to consume all the harmful chemicals that negatively affect body systems. The chemicals that get leached into the soil are readily absorbed by crops and cannot be washed away. That causes a long-term impact. Vegetables like onion have been found to mutate when grown in water stored in PET bottles. That’s how harmful even disposing plastic can be.
The most responsible way to dispose of plastic bottles is to crush and pass on to the garbage processing authority of your city to ensure that the harmful substance does not remain in the environment causing harmful effects.
Although there are numerous problems with plastic that makes daily survival an issue, it is best advised to use clear plastic whenever required. Colour pigments in coloured plastic bottles are known to leach faster. Also, experts suggest that avoiding the plastic bottles coded 7 is a must, especially for children. If you cannot avoid the use of plastic bottles at home, it is extremely important not to fill them with hot liquids or put them in a microwave or a dishwasher.
Healthy living begins with minor steps but contributes largely. Make healthy decisions, today!
Shruti is a wonderful writer with extraordinary taste buds. She is also a passionate cook on a constant lookout for healthy ways to cook her favourite cuisines. When she’s not at her work desk, she is most likely to be exploring some DIY tips to do at home and keep learning.