Lets be honest… living totally chemical free in this present day and age is next to impossible! That being said there are simple steps that we can take to greatly reduce our exposure to them and at the top of my list is getting rid of plastics.
You see many of the everyday common plastics that we are using contain a potentially dangerous chemical called bisphenol-A (BPA). So you probably find yourself wondering “What in the world IS BPA and why is it so dangerous?” It’s a controversial plastic additive widely used in plastic packaging and the lining of drinks cans. It’s been shown to be a hormone disruptor and many have concerns about its potentially adverse human health effects caused by exposure to this synthetic estrogen. It has been linked to numerous issues, such as reproductive, immunity, neurological problems, and metabolic disease, along with others like cardiovascular disease, childhood asthma, and type-2 diabetes. It leaches into food and drinks, and is especially harmful when warmed or heated which means that the risk increases with heating or reheating baby bottles, plastic storage containers and more. Think of how many times you’ve reheated food in plastic containers in the microwave, or baby bottles with disposable liners in hot water. Makes me shudder!
Knowing how the endocrine system works is critical to understanding not only what it is that makes BPA so dangerous but also how far reaching its effects are. Hormones are sent into the bloodstream after being produced by endocrine tissues (thyroid, ovaries and testes). Once in the bloodstream they act like messengers binding to hormone receptors throughout the body. Once plugged into these receptor sites, the hormones begin activating responses throughout the body controlling functions like reproduction, growth and energy levels. Each of us gets plenty of natural hormones but since BPA is very similar in shape to the hormone estrogen, it easily binds with hormone receptors, overloading receptor sites and altering cell function throughout the body. According to Frederick vom Saal, a University of Missouri biologist who studies endocrine disruptors “BPA is acting on receptors that are already above thresholds because everyone has estrogen in their body.”
In recent years (2007) there was a well publicized movement to remove BPA from drinking containers and from baby and children’s products. Many manufacturers voluntarily removed it from water bottles and plastic food containers. Definitely a step in the right direction however recent evidence has emerged that the new “BPA-free” plastics being tauted as safe may in fact actually be just as harmful, if not more so. BPA, and other similar chemicals can and do wreak havoc on endocrine systems even in infinitesimal amounts says vom Saal. To learn more on this important subject just GOOGLE it. (my kids are always telling me to do this). I’m betting that you’ll be shocked by what you learn.
So… what’s a person to do?
Personally getting rid of plastic storage containers has been at the top of my list for awhile but purchasing glass storage containers can be pricey and I haven’t found any that I thought would actually fit my storage needs. Then like a light bulb the thought of using canning jars and other larger jars I have collected, instead of plastics, hit me. So I removed all my plastic storage containers, and went to the basement to gather up a supply of glass jars and lids to use instead.
Once I got started I actually realized that using glass jars has a couple of additional benefits over plastic… I find it much easier to actually SEE what’s in them and it takes up less space. A win-win situation all around. Below are some before and after pics.
In the pic on the left I’ve placed the leftover roasted chicken in a pyrex serving dish instead of a plastic bag.
In the pic on the right I have leftover stir fry and rice.
Use wide mouth funnel to help fill jars without making a mess.
Place a towel underneath jar and gently tap to get contents to settle into jar.
Use a spoon to tap contents down into jar if needed.
Keep track of what is in the jar and when you had it by labeling jar.
As you can see getting rid of all that CHEMICAL laden, HORMONE DISRUPTING plastic is a lot cheaper than you might think. Purchasing a box or two of different size canning jars and lids is very inexpensive. And don’t forget to check out your local thrift store, Goodwill or Salvation Army store for glass or pyrex storage containers. And as you can see, it takes up less space and is actually easier to SEE what’s in your fridge.
So… if you’ve been inspired to chuck all those plastic storage containers and take another step closer to health and wellness please come back here and report to us how you did it, and how it’s working for you. I believe that like me you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the results, beyond all the health benefits of doing so. With the New Year just days away it makes it the perfect time to make this one of your New Years resolutions and commit to doing this.