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3 Harmful Plastics to Remove From Your Life

3 Harmful Plastics to Remove From Your Life

Plastic can seem pervasive at times. From food packaging and storage to flooring and household goods, plastic is everywhere. There are a number of ways that we try to eliminate plastic from our lives—taking reusable shopping bags to market, avoiding processed pre-packaged foods, eschewing the use of water bottles—but without drastic measures it can be nearly impossible to rid this non-biodegradable substance from our lives for good. Not all plastic is created equally, so if you’re picking and choosing plastics to rid from your life, start with these.

#3 PVC (polyvinyl chloride): This plastic is used to make children’s toys, shower curtains, vinyl flooring and some wallpapers. To make PVC soft and pliable, phthalates are added during the manufacturing process. Phthalates can leach of plastic products and into the human body, where they’ve been linked to a number of health problems: hormone disruption, reproductive disorders, even liver cancer. (Read more about the health concerns of phthalates.)

To avoid #3 plastics, don’t buy PVC shower curtains; opt for natural fabrics like organic cotton, linen or hemp. Don’t give young children plastic teething rings, and don’t wrap food in plastic wrap.

#6 PS (polystyrene): You’re probably most familiar with this plastic from Styrofoam. Polystyrene is made of petroleum byproducts and can be found in foam food containers, meat trays, plastic cutlery and more. Recycling polystyrene can be difficult, and because it’s so light, polystyrene is easily picked up by the wind and tossed into the ocean where it contributes to marine pollution. Polystyrene has been known to leach styrene, a possible neurotoxin and carcinogen that has been linked to hormone disruption, infertility and cancer.

To avoid #6 plastics, don’t store food in foam containers, especially fatty foods such as meat and cheese, which are more likely to absorb chemicals; try taking your own glass to-go containers when you eat out.

#7 PC (polycarbonate): This plastic encompasses all sorts of “other” plastics that don’t fit into the previous six categories. However, the most common type of #7 plastic is polycarbonate with added bisphenol A (BPA), which is used to make reusable food containers, baby bottles and reusable water bottles. When heated and washed with a strong detergent, polycarbonate plastic can break down and leach BPA. Among other health problems, BPA has been linked to hormone and reproductive system damage, early puberty, obesity and even cancer. (Learn more about the risks of BPA.)

To avoid #7 plastic, opt for glass food storage containers instead of plastic ones. If you already have plastic food storage containers, never store fatty foods in them and wash them by hand instead of putting them in the dishwasher. (Read more about food safety issues concerning plastic food storage containers.)

To learn more about the health risks of these and other plastics—and for more ways to eliminate plastic from your life—check out the article “De-Plasticize Your Life” from Natural Home & Garden.

Image: pressmaster / Fotolia

Read more: Eco-friendly tips, General Health, Green, Health, Health & Safety, Home, , , , , , ,

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Susan Melgren

Susan Melgren is the web editor of Natural Home & Garden magazine. She enjoys writing about natural health, nontoxic homes and tips for green living.


+ add your own
12:40AM PDT on Aug 19, 2014

thanks for the article!

7:48AM PDT on Aug 5, 2014


5:51AM PDT on Aug 3, 2014

Thank you!

2:34AM PDT on Jun 24, 2014

Yet another lame attempt at scaring gullible readers, baseless and tasteless.

7:46PM PDT on Jun 7, 2014

try to avoid plastics.....

8:36PM PDT on May 14, 2014 - Ecology Center
Find safer products with's 'Retailer Center'. Over the past few years, the Ecology Center's project has tested more than ten ...

Is an excellent resource to compare consumer products which they test for different chemicals Off-gassing. Their tests on Automobile interior panels is good for those that spend hours per day commuting. People with asthma or allergies would be wise to consult their reports for car models which are best to buy. Ratings on autos can go up or down from year to year.

A letter campaign to Automakers would help put pressure on them to be more considerate of what chemicals are used in interior panels. Some parts Jobbers are using hemp now. Henry Ford did in the 30's but they all need pressure put on them that cheapest bid is not always the best for parts procurement.

Public embarassment will bring change. Lemon-Aid first mentioned this about Volvo in 2003 being very selective, but change of ownership has slipped in ratings. In 2008 when I received the first Healthy Cars Report, one breed that was severely offensive caused my lungs to ache for 3 days previous to me reading their report. it was a model I really wanted to buy, but could not because of the off-gassing!

8:11PM PDT on May 14, 2014

@ Sue H. on Apr 1, 2012
If I didn't use a plastic shower curtain my bathroom floor would flood each time I take a shower.

Sue there are fabric curtains which actually work better and are re-washable when scuzzed up from soap film etc.

8:05PM PDT on May 14, 2014

The Ontario Government took a One Time payout from the Beverage Industry of 10 million to go to plastic bottles and Quit recycling, re-washing Glass bottles. I wonder what it has cost the morons in health care costs from chemical toxicity transferred into drinks, canned fruit, spreads etc. Never mind over-flowing garbage dumps.

Remember when Toronto was shipping their garbage to Michigan? Are they still doing that?

It sickens me when I walk down juice row in a grocery store, only the Organic juices come in Glass bottles, please support them if you are Not into Eating Your Juice, It comes in a natural, compostable wrapper if its a citrus fruit, banana etc.

9:03AM PDT on Apr 28, 2014

I've always liked beverages in glass bottles as opposed to plastic, cardboard or aluminum containers.

7:50AM PDT on Apr 28, 2014

After all these years of using all of these plastics now they tell us, great!!!!! If I make anything that has to be stored it is usually glass or stainless steel. But how do you avoid plastic seriously? It's everywhere and for the shower curtain linen, cotton what!!!!!! I don't know about you but I sure don't want water all over my floor, although you could use painters drop cloth and make a cute curtain, that should work I suppose. If they know this with all the health issues why is it still on the market?

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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