Updated: Jul 1
I have been absent from posting for a while. I was involved in an environmental education program. It took most of my free time. I have completed that and am glad to start writing again, hopefully on a regular basis.
The educational seminar I did for the community was about reducing waste through the reduce->reuse->recycle lifecycle. Whether you directly correlate this to health or not, all organic processes on earth are connected. Health is a very broad topic and relates to our physical and mental health but includes the health of our ecosystems; of all living things including some that have been altered by humans. We are polluting our planet and atmosphere which is having disasterous effects on health.
We are not all meant to be saviors of the planet on a global scale, but we can each contribute to the solution in some way.
Plastics, for example, have become ubiquitous in our homes and environment. Life would be much harder without them. We don't think twice about using them. But we need to think about reducing or even eliminating single use plastics. This would be a start.
First-world nations have become disposable societies. The pandemic made things worse. Think about all of the PPE that was thrown away. We use plastics for everything and we know it is in our food, our soil, our water, and our bodies. It has been found in breast milk. Microplastics are a sincere threat to our health and to our ecosystems. Single use plastics such as water bottles, ziplock bags, and plastic wrap can be eliminated without major impacts to our lifestyles.
Here are some stats to wrap your mind around.
Every hour Americans use 2,500,000 plastic bottles, which is the most prolifically produced consumer good. Only 14% are recycled.
In a week - 10 billion plastic bags are used worldwide. The average American family takes home almost 1,500 bags a year.
In a lifetime – the average American will personally throw away 600 times his/her bodyweight of plastic.
Plastics and other toxic chemicals continue to to be sold in detergent (polyethylene,polycarboxylates, quaternium 15, xylene sulfonate). Read the labels!
93% of Americans test positive for the presence of BPA in their bodies (CDC study from 2003-2004).
~30% of indoor dust is plastic microfibers (Dris et al., 2017)
Sourced from the University of Tennessee, Dept. of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries
The simplest thing you can is to stop using plastic or even paper bags when shopping. This includes bags for hauling your groceries to the car as well as bags you use inside the store for items like produce. Set this as a goal and work towards it.
A second easy substitution is eliminating plastic water or other drink bottles. Replace them with reusable drinking vessels and take your own water with you when you will need it. Third, no one really needs to use a straw. Just say no when in a restaurant or when buying beverages (hopefully in glass or aluminum cans). Lastly, if you do end up having plastic bottles, make sure they are clean and recycle them!
Here is another suggestion. Before adding something to your grocery cart, assess what you are buying. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
Do I really need this item?
Am I going to use it this week or is this an impulse buy? Why am I buying it?
Can I freeze this item or give it away if I don't end up using it? Bottom line here is to avoid throwing food in the trash.
How is this item packaged? Is it over-packaged with plastic? Can the packaging be recycled? Can I buy this item unpackaged somewhere else?
Can I save all of the plastic bags I use and reuse them when I return to the store? You can also recycle them at grocery stores or donate them to Food Banks or farm stores.
If you start developing an awareness of your shopping habits, you can change them. This is step 1. Once you become aware, you will make adjustments automatically. At the beginning you may need to stop and consciously direct your attention to the task of reducing your food consumption, critically assessing product packaging, and reducing the amount of plastic you purchase.
Loving life means taking care of our planet. There are an infinite number of things you can do. It is a fallacy to think that eventually we will populate a new world so we don't have to worry about this one. If we don't change our behavior to be more earth-friendly we are doomed to repeat our behavior if we ever populate a new home in the universe. Caring about future generations' survival is a responsibility we all have. Our ancestors gave that to us. We have to pay it forward.
This will be the focus of a series of posts, interspersed with other health-related topic. This is installment 1. Stay tuned for my next post on this topic (installment 2) but in the meantime think about one or more ways you can reduce your food and plastic consumption .
Here are some additional ideas.
1. Store all food in glass. Buy only glass containers to store leftovers etc.
3. Consider a renewable energy provider for your electricity and the next time you buy a car, consider and electric vehicle (EV). It's the future. Likewise, you can buy electric appliances rather than gas-powered equipment.
Every effort makes a difference and it feels good to contribute to the solution.