November is here and that means it’s time for Thanksgiving. It’s truly one of my favorite holidays because it’s all about family - and food:) The best part? Leftovers! Believe it or not, how you store your food, including your sister-in-law’s extra sweet potato casserole and your cousin’s secret gravy, has an impact on the environment - and your health. That’s why this month our Everyday Eco-Habit is Going Wrap-LESS. I want to get you into the habit of ditching your plastic wrap, containers, and baggies and storing your leftovers in a more eco-friendly way. Why? Well, just like all plastic, plastic wrap, containers, and baggies take a long time to break down and are creating an excess of pollution. They harm animals and wreak havoc on our environment, especially our precious oceanic environment. Just in case you missed my Litter-LESS post, here is an amazing article from National Geographic focusing on the problem of plastic in our oceans.
We have been learning just how bad these plastics are for the environment. But what you might not realize is just how harmful they are for us: you, me, and our families. You see, this type of plastic is usually made of either Bisphenol-A (BPA) or low-density polyethylene (LDPE). We hear a lot about things being “BPA-free” these days. But what is BPA? BPA is a chemical compound used in hard plastics and epoxy resins to make things like plastic containers and to line canned food. There is a lot of research on BPA, including this research from Harvard noting BPA is an endocrine disruptor, which means it’s a substance that mimics human hormones in not a good way. BPA is possibly linked to breast cancer in women and prostate cancer in men. This is why many plastic products are now BPA free. A few ways to avoid BPA include getting rid of any plastic food containers that show wear and replacing them with reusable containers, keeping your plastic food containers out of the dishwasher, and switching from single-use plastic water bottles to glass or stainless-steel bottles. Want more info about plastic bottles? We’ll be sure to cover that very soon!
Now, plastic wrap is mostly made of LDPE. While this wrap does not cause as much harm as BPA, it can still cause endocrine disruption, i.e., mess with your body, especially when it touches your food. And, since manufacturers aren’t required to give you a list of chemicals in their plastic wrap, you don’t really know what’s in the plastic and how it’s affecting your body. Whatever you do, make sure you don’t put your plastic wrap in the microwave, even that convenient plastic bag of broccoli that says it’s safe to steam. Heat can break down the plastic and it can leach into your food.
Now that we know not to use plastic food containers, wraps and baggies, what are some eco-friendly alternatives? Here is a handy PDF of My Favorite Reusable Food Containers, Food-Wraps, and Food-Baggies. One of the coolest new products I’ve seen to replace plastic wrap is bee’s wrap, a compostable, washable and reusable alternative. I recently discovered a wax wrap similar to this at my local Trader Joe’s! Other options include: silicone lids, glass storage containers, mason jars, and even something as simple as a dishcloth. These alternatives can preserve your food and are much safer for you and the environment. To make it easy and reward you for Going [plastic] Wrap-LESS, My Green Friend U-Konserve has some awesome reusable containers, food-wraps and baggies to give away to one of you! All you have to do is post a picture of yourself using a reusable container, food-wrap, or food-baggie and tag me and U-Konserve using the hashtags #plasticwrapless, #everydayecohabits.
I look forward to adopting the Everyday Eco-Habit of Going Wrap-LESS with you this month. Be sure to contact me with any questions, post pictures, and tag me using #plasticwrapless and #everydayecohabits.