Cut Down on the Plastic

Listen, I was a plastic user for years.  But since I became a health and wellness coach, I realized I need to change.  I grew up, like many of you, in a household chock full of Tupperware and Rubbermaid, just to name a few.  The containers worked for food storage and household storage.  Back then, what I didn’t realize is that plastics have chemicals in them that increase the risk of cancer and may cause hormonal imbalances in some.  Slowly, over time, I’ve been able to almost fully transition to a cleaner storage container.  And I want to help you do the same!

My first tip, and the one I think is the easiest, is to switch to stainless steel or glass water bottles.  The reason this is my number one tip is because plastic breaks down over time.  Even if you’re drinking from a BPA-free bottle, it could still have other chemicals in it that you aren’t aware of.  My favorite bottles to drink from are the Sip by Swell bottles.  You can find them at Target and they come in a variety of sizes.  They’re not insanely expensive either, which is great!  Next time you’re there, swing down the aisle and check them out.  The fun prints might just make you want to pick one up.

When it comes to leftovers, we have to store them somewhere, right?  I used to use Rubbermaid containers and would carry them to work, reheat them in the microwave and even use a fork and knife right in them, making scratches on the inside.  Totally bad news bears!  My husband always used to yell at me for it and I knew deep down he was right, but that’s what we had so that’s what we used.  Now we use these glass containers.  And that’s my second tip – use glass (or porcelain) containers to store and reheat your leftovers.  Using these types of containers is better because in the heat, plastic breaks down even faster.  The food that is in the plastic container, when heated up, will absorb some of the chemicals released from the plastic.  Are you somewhat grossed out yet?  I imagined creepy bugs crawling into my food from the plastic.  Eww!  Ok, let’s move on…

My third tip is to toss those plastic containers you have now that you know you’ve put in the microwave or run through the dishwasher.  Again, heat breaks down the plastic and releases those chemical components, allowing them to get into your food.  Remember those bugs I imagined?  Yup, same reason here.  But hey, if you are old school and hand wash your dishes, you might be safe.  But only if you haven’t microwaved them.  This will be helpful too because you can make room for your new glass or porcelain containers.

If you’re in a position where you really can’t toss all your plastic goods, that’s ok, but I still want you to be safe.  Tip four is to check the number on your BPA-free plastics.  Even if it says it’s BPA-free, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s chemical free.  Phthalates is one chemical group that can be found in plastics that are BPA-free.  They make plastics more flexible and harder to break, which is why companies use them.  So what numbers do you look for?  The numbers will range from 1 to 7 and if you see 1, 2, 4 or 5, that plastic is a safer choice.  The ones you want to avoid at all costs are 3, 6 or 7.

My last tip I think you’re going to love.  When you go shopping, you typically get a plastic bag for your purchased goods, right?  What do you do with those bags?  Most people, use them around the house or toss them.  But they pile up.  Especially after grocery shopping.  That’s why my last tip is to get reusable bags to use when you’re shopping.  When I’m grocery shopping, I literally get stopped every trip and get asked where I got my bags.  In the past my response has been “Oh, I don’t know, I found them online somewhere.”  Well, I really did find them online…and in the most magical place on earth (just kidding)…AMAZON!  Seriously, though, love that site!  The bags I have are called Pack-N-Tote grocery cart helper bags because they hook onto the sides of the cart and you can fill them as you go through the store.  It’s easier at checkout and we usually fit everything in just two bags.  As for non-grocery related shopping, those huge TJ Maxx bags are awesome.  But if you want one a little more classy, you can pick up the Market Tote from Vera Bradley for less than $10.  Their Painted Medallions is my newest favorite print.

Now that you’ve got the tips, what’s your plan?  My suggestion, start slow.  Baby steps make this transition much, much easier.  And do the swaps as you can.  It can be a lot of money to completely revamp everything you’ve been doing for the last, oh I don’t know, 10+ years but if you go slow, it will be much easier.  If you need more suggestions or help with the transitions, you know where to find me!

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