Today we are starting our series on reducing plastic consumption. I have some upcoming posts show casing some wonderful plastic free alternatives but before we get there we need to lay down some groundwork on why plastic can be a problem.
While there are many issues with plastic, one of the most common issues lies with bisphenol-A (BPA). This common chemical leached from plastic into our water and food is widely found “contaminating”-if you will- our bodies. We are exposed mostly through the food we eat and the majority of us have much too high of levels, up to 8 times the “safe amount”. (1) Over 92% of the US population tested positive for BPA exposure. Why should this concern us? Well, if we want to protect our brains, lower our chances of cancer (both breast and prostate) and diabetes and protect our children when we are pregnant and they are young, we should pay attention!
Here are just a few overviews of studies done on BPA and it’s negative effects.
1)Linked to Brain and Behavior Problems
One study found that BPA given to pregnant mice had a negative effect on the brain and behavior of the offspring. They also found that exposure to adult female mice had a negative effect on their maternal behavior. (2). And this was a low “environmentally relevant dose” of BPA, so they weren’t superloading the mice with BPA. Any time a chemical changes the natural behavior of animals (or humans), we should be concerned.
Another study took samples from pregnant women to see what their BPA exposure was when pregnant and then tested their children when two years of age. They found that BPA was linked to externalizing behaviors in 2-year-old children, especially among female children.(3) So, this change of behavior was also noted in humans as well as mice.
2) BPA is an Endocrine disruptor and it’s Effects can lead to Obesity and Diabetes and could even be a factor in Schizophrenia.
One study, once again using relevant doses of BPA, found that BPA exposure can lead in insulin resistance and obesity related diseases. (4) In other words, if you are trying to prevent diabetes, you should avoid BPA’s!
Another study exposed pregnant mice with BPA and found that it effected not only the offspring but the mothers long term as well in regard to insulin resistance. During their pregnancy it aggravated the normal insulin resistance of pregnancy and also decreased their tolerance to glucose as well as increasing plasma insulin. 4 months post-partum, the treated females weighed more than the untreated mice, and had greater insulin resistance. Similar results were found in the male offspring of the mice. (5)
Because of it’s endocrine disrupting effect, some theorize that BPA and other related chemicals could be one cause of schizophrenia. (9)
3) BPA Acts as an Xeno-Estrogen (which has the possibility to increase rates of estrogen related diseases such as breast cancer)
Another disturbing action of BPA is that it acts as an estrogen in the body. Considering that we are exposed to rather high amounts of this chemical, this is a concern. (6) I personally feel that we should be very careful with any outside chemicals (or foods, like soy) that have the ability to change our hormonal balance, and this includes men and women.
In fact, when they exposed pregnant mice to BPA, they found that it did alter the development of the fetal mouse mammary gland. (7)Besides the obvious danger of breast cancer it has also been linked possibly to prostate cancer. (10)
All in all, BPA has a wide range of consequences and it’s especially important for pregnant women and young children to have a limited exposure to BPA. I find all of the above concerns worthy of notice and certainly plan on continuing to reduce our exposure as much as possible.
What is BPA found in?
Canned foods, hard plastics (often used in baby bottles, kid’s cups, etc. ) and credit card receipts are some of the most common carriers of BPA. Just cutting out canned foods will greatly reduce your exposure to BPA. Eden Foods is supposed to now carry BPA free canned products. You can also now buy BPA free plastic water bottles, baby bottles, and other children’s products (though I prefer to go completely plastic free). When buying beverages or other products in plastic, the recycle symbol on the bottom of the plastic container will give some information to you. Plastic number 7 often contains BPA, so avoid number 7 plastic when possible. Other ways to reduce BPA exposure include not microwaving polycarbonate plastic food containers as it may start to break down overtime. When possible, opt for glass, porcelain, or stainless steel containers, particularly for hot food or liquids. If you are going to use plastic to store food, wait until the food is cold before storage. Also, if you use bottles, use ones that are free of bisphenol A. You can even buy beautiful glass bottles now!
For more ideas on how to reduce your plastic consumption ( and BPA exposure) keep checking back here for this ongoing series or sign up for my RSS feed , so that you never miss a post!
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Also important not to re-use PET 1 plastic bottles and containers. Also keep out of heat and sunlight.
Yes, I second everything you said about BPA. Regarding the plastic numbers: in a nutshell it’s okay to use plastic numbers 1, 2, 4, and 5 but you should avoid 3, 6, and 7.
I understand that numberr 7 is the unclassified plastic and could be either. In fact several manufactures of NON-BPA plastics lids claim that they are specifically NON-BPA and they are labled # 7.
This includes Tattlers canning lids. The link below is for the Tattler site.
love this. i am so with you. the fact that plastic can have an effect on hormones completely freaks me out.
So I got home last night, and had a lovely lasagna that I had pulled out of the freezer to take to a friend’s house (she had recent surgery and is laid up), only to find the teenager had taken it upon herself to heat it up and eat it for dinner (let’s just never mind the fact that I had specifically directed her to a turkey wing and some wonderful sprouted brown rice made with broth and veggies…). I had made this lasagna some time back when I had extra, and stuck it in the freezer–you know, those nifty Corningware or Pyrex glass pans, with the great plastic pop-on lids? Yeah, well, something in that darling teenager thought that the plastic wouldn’t melt. No wait, I think here exact words were “I didn’t think…” Yep, typical. The lid itself had sort of melted all over (not ALL over the food, but had clearly deformed significantly), but the whole house just reeked of “something’s not right in the oven…” We opened all the windows in the house!
Anyway, I made her throw the whole thing out (DARN, now I’m going to have to make something else for my friend! Oh wait, that was a reality when she didn’t eat what she was supposed to), and we talked about the expense of each item used to make it, including the expense of heating up the whole oven when the pan would have very easily fit into our countertop convection oven… One of these days, the dangers of plastic AND the realities of limited financial resources will be a part of her world! *sigh* I think I might just print out your posts for this series and have her earn cell phone time with her reports back to me!
Wow, not only is this comment primarily off-topic, but also very saddening. Is this really the place to disparage your daughter for making a mistake? Your response makes me wonder if she will ever be inclined to experiment in the kitchen without the fear of being drilled on the expenses involved in ruining a dish or punished with writing reports about cooking!
I have ruined or broken many a dish; every good cook makes mistakes. A good sense of humor, grace, training and encouragement will go much farther than derision and public scorn.
Actually, I don’t think my comment is off-topic, since one of the main reasons for getting away from plastic is because of the BPA (more of which is secreted when the plastic is heated), but that is not the only dangerous chemical to be found in plastics, particularly if they are heated. We threw the food out because it had melted plastic and plastic fumes throughout.
Also, you are mistaken if you think I was disparaging my daughter–we actually had a very good discussion about it, and she learned alot and came up with some suggestions for next time she wanted to heat something (because we tend to avoid aluminum foil in our house also). Mostly, it was a challenge to get her to think, which is not something the schools that she has attended have taught her to do (she has a slight learning disability, so time has been focused on learning to read/write), so we have to do as much “think training” at home as we can–she will be driving soon, and needs to prove that she can make wise decisions.
Finally, my husband has been unemployed for a year, so the way we teach our children about finances is best taught with every opportunity that presents itself. It’s an opportunity, using love and logic parenting techniques, to assign a “value” to something so that there can be a consequence, hence discussing how much each item costs. She is now going to put together a meal plan for the next week, budgeting certain amount of money to the food part, and also have another dish put together for the friend in need, without going over budget. I worked with her to show her that the rice can be prepared in a big batch and used to stretch meals to feed more mouths or for more days, and this is a skill that everyone should have; I like to think that she will someday make a wonderful home economist because of some of the lessons we teach her.
I, too, have ruined and broken dishes in my time, and my father used to beat me when I did; I still suffer from the experience. You can bet that she was not punished for ruining a dish, however she did have some very real world consequences for her “not thinking,” and she also learned more about why plastics are so dangerous.
Dani – FWIW, I thought your post was funny and enjoy your writing style… =)
I do apologize if I misread a post that was meant to be in good humor. It looks like the incident turned out for the better and a good lesson was learned from it.
I was reading it from the point of view as, if I were the daughter reading what my mom had written about me, I would’ve felt humiliated and like I’d been portrayed as a silly unthinking teenager. However, this is something that has happened to me on several occasions (that is, having my mother share publicly either personal or embarrassing derogatory information about me), so I may have read too much into your story.
If your daughter does have a learning disability though, I would feel that stories, (even with lighthearted intent) pointing out the times when she ‘doesn’t think,’ could still be wounding.
So while I obviously don’t know the relationship you have with your daughter and I could totally be off-base here, I guess the bottom line concern I had was, please be careful with your daughter’s heart and the way you speak about her.
If she would/does not feel hurt by what you’ve written, (and if you wouldn’t take offense at something similar written about yourself), then my worries are probably unfounded, and I apologize if I’ve misinterpreted your post.
Looking forward to future posts in this series. Maybe you can answer this question for me: Muir Glen states on their cans, “Packed in lead-free, white enamel-lined cans.” Does this mean there is still plastic with BPA in the can linings, or does the enamel mean there is NOT the plastic/BPA? Something I’ve been wondering for a long time.
The white enamel lining IS BPA lining. BPA lined cans of tomato based foods are particularly susceptible to leaching.
You know this really makes me mad…….I knew that when consumer reports did their study that a lot of tomato products had BPA linings in their cans but I really like Muir Glen and they were the only canned tomatoes I would buy. So now the next question is are their ANY canned tomatoes that don’t have BPA lined cans?????
Bionaturae brand has glass jars of strained tomatoes (like tomato sauce) and also tomato paste (I get them cheapest at tropicaltraditions.com). If I need diced or chopped tomatoes and don’t have fresh, POMI brand has some (they aren’t organic though) that are in tetra-packs which I think are safer, as far as I know (I get those at vitacost.com for the best price). Hope that helps!
Canned tomatoes have BPA liners, because the FDA has not approved any other linings for acid foods (even Eden Organic canned tomatoes have BPA liners.)
Carrie- Pomi tomatoes are grown without pesticides, herbicides or GMOs. I would definitely consider them an organic brand. Italy has higher standards of regulation than the U.S. does anyway.
THank you so much Carrie! I usually use fresh tomatoes but when there just isn’t time or that last batch from the grocery store died a sad death in my veggie drawer before I got to them, I turn to the canned standby. I switched my family to glass ‘tupperware’, metal ice cube trays and am always fighting that uphill battle to keep plastics and non-recyclables out of our kitchen and our lives without breaking the bank – I am so glad there are affordable options out there – thanks for the tip!
Thanks so much for doing this! I am really looking forward to your plastic alternative suggestions!
go to natural news (the health ranger) and type in BPA & he will give you websites for finding out which canned foods are good and which have BPA in them. Muir Glen has BPA .
I know you use coconut milk a lot in your recipes. I have been using it quite a bit since our family has issues with dairy. I have only seen it in the canned version. Are there other suggestions for how to buy coconut milk? (I really don’t want to open a fresh coconut).
So if you were to open a Fresh coconut you wouldn’t get milk 🙂 It’s called coconut water. It is delicious. I had it in South America and in St Lucia. But Dried coconuts have the milk in them and that is what the coconut you can get in the grocery store are. Anyway… I found this site with a bunch of comments and links about BPA free coconut milk http://paleohacks.com/questions/2361/any-source-for-coconut-milk-in-non-bpa-cans#axzz12KnuY3B8 Seems to be that Native Forest brand doesn’t have BPA
I second the motion. I would like to know if coconut milk in a tetrapac is a good option. I wonder not only about whether the packaging itself is inert, but also whether the contents undergo any special treatment.
Looking forward to reading the rest of your posts on this topic.
There are many sources of BPA, plastic and lined cans is a major one because it contacts the food you eat. One of the other major sources is the receipts used by most stores these days. Handling a receipt or two a week probably won’t hurt you, but women of childbearing age and still-developing teens might be better off with jobs that do not entail the all-day handling of receipts.
SO Delicious has a brand of coconut milk in a rectangle carton like soymilk is packaged in. It is by those beverages in almost any grocery store.
However, does anyone know if those cartons (or milk cartons for that matter) are lined in BPA? Also I just learned that SIGG bottles are lined with an “epoxy resin”. That doesn’t seem good.
I use a Klean Kanteen for on the go. It’s BPA free and 18/8 stainless steel. They don’t make the water taste funny at all. They have a great product!
I bought my husband a 40 oz. Kleen Kanteen water bottle for Valentine’s Day as a replacement for his cheap plastic one. He loves it! He carries it to work every day, the gym, weekend outings, even church! I highly recommend their water bottles! (although I did purchase the plain stainless steel one, because I didn’t know if the painted ones would chip)
I recently purchased the Life Factory glass water bottle. The lid is plastic unfortunately, but BPA free. It was pricey, but I love it and use it everyday!
Thankyou Kimi such a great topic of great concern to us all !
I am really looking forward to your hearing and seeing all your plastic alternative suggestions! I use a glass bottle for my drinking water that I always carry in my bag but it is so heavy . My friend brought me a stainless steel drinking bottle, but the water always tastes like metal which I really hate so it have gone in the cupboard . I love using glass where ever I can , But I couldn’t send glass containers in my sons lunch box way to heavy and if they were dropped they could smash so that could be dangerous ! I cannot wait to your next post to see the alternatives ! I make and sell mesh bags to buy my fruit and vegetables so less plastic for me !Great Job Kimi :):):)
Thanks for bringing up the topic of BPA. The carbonless cash register receipts contain far more BPA than plastic containers. The amount that can leach out of a water bottle is in nanogram quantities, whereas the average cash register receipt contains 60-100 milligrams of BPA-and its not bound within the plastic, but rather it can simply rub off on your hands, and can be absorbed through the skin or transferred to food. Avoid contact with those receipts as much as possible.
Wow I never knew receipts had BPA. I was working as a cashier when I found out I was pregnant. And not too long ago my little one got ahold of a receipt and was chewing on it! Maybe I’ll just tell the cashiers to throw my receipts out from now on. Unless it is for something important.
I wrote a research paper on the effects of BPA for a college nutrition class last winter. It was incredible to me that the plastics industry is able to maintain this material in products when there are SO MANY studies showing harmful effects in animals subjected to even extremely low levels. I guess they can get away with it until studies confirm the ill effects in humans. Capitalism at its finest…
Not saying this is not important, but regardless of how, what, or why I should rid us of as much plastics as possible. I am slowly doing so. It is less about which is good and which is bad and more about preserving my hubby’s, two daughter’s and my own endocrine systems. I try to buy a few new glass or corningwear dishes here and there. I have found the thrift store a great source for glass and metal dishes. I got a mixing bowl for less than half I paid full price for the exact same one and I got two glass pie pans for less than $4 each. Great post. I just started to learn about endocrine system from the book master your metabolism. Very interesting and important information.
My husband and I have been doing our best to eat healthy and avoid things that cause harm to our bodies, but recently I’ve been wondering if sometimes I’m “worrying” more than the Lord wants me to be. How literal should I take Matt. 6:25-33 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, . . . Is not life more than food? . . . And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? . . . Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ . . . But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” I’m not at all trying to make anyone feel bad or guilty or anything like that, but I am sincerely searching the heart of the Father to know how much to allow all the many things that I’ve been “concerned” about to fill my mind and take up my time. I want to take care of my family and myself the best that I can, but where do I draw the line and say that these “concerns” are becoming what I’m seeking after instead of the kingdom of God and His righteousness? I work 40 hours a week as my husband is a Bible college student studying to become a preacher and so sometimes trying to balance work, being as much of a help to my husband as possible, and then all of these concerns becomes my focus and seeking after His Kingdom and righteousness take a back seat because my mind is trying to keep everything straight and then nothing is done well. Does anyone else struggle with this?
Making wise choices doesn’t have to be coupled with worry, but it’s easy to do sometimes. Something I always try to keep in mind is “doing my best and not worrying about the rest”. There are a lot of things that are not ideal in my life and I am not always able to buy the very “best of the best”, but I know that I am doing the best with the money and time that I have and so I am at peace with it. My piano teacher who was a Christian always told me when preparing for piano exams to” work like it depended on you”, but when the exam came, to put it in the Lord’s hands. It’s that tricky thing of trusting in God while being faithful in your own responsibilities. I try to have the same attitude towards health. I try to do my very best with what I have and make the best choices in my power, and then I leave the results in God’s hands. Hope that helps!
I love that you are raising awareness on this issue. Good work! I also appreciate that you did your research.
I contacted Muir Glen when I found out about BPA and they do have it in their cans, despite the lofty wording. Eden Foods has it in their tomato products also (but not beans, etc.). Anything that is a canned tomato product will definitely have it (due to acidity of the item). Watch for it on the underside of metal tops of products in glass jars as well. It is practically everywhere. The FDA makes the companies use it, which is why Eden still does in their tomato products, and they are essentially forced to unless the FDA allows a replacement (which, from what I understand there are safe alternatives, so we have to have a campaign to replace the BPA in canned goods just like with baby related products). Hope that helps.
Great post – thanks for raising awareness on this! Question – in your research, did they mention if behaviors in mice revert to normal once they stopped having BPA exposure, or was the damage permanent?
Does anyone know of a company that sells tuna and salmon in jars rather than cans?
Natural Sea sells tuna in non-BPA cans. People need to get in the habit of calling companies directly to ask them about BPA. I also call about mercury, pcb, etc testing of the fish in the cans. And when companies can’t answer my questions, cut me off curtly, or hang up, I cease buying their products and usually tell them so. I also call about GMO soy/corn, etc and have called more than one farm to ask about the feed for their animals. Saying “natural,” or “organic” on the label does not mean they don’t use GMO feed for the animals. I had one popular egg farm try to assure me that there was nothing wrong or unusual or illegal to use such products for feeding the hens. Who cares, says I. GMO is GMO and I want none of it.
I’m interested to know if Tupperware (old or modern) has BPA – have asked a few demonstrators and got the ‘Oh, no, of course not!’ In a tone of voice that implied, ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about!’
My disabled son, on SSI, suffers prostatitis and recently had an operation for kidney stones. For years, he ate fruits, vegetables, beans and soups from cans. Like many on SSI, he goes through maybe 100 cans of food a month.
Recently, after learning that BPA actually causes the ailments he suffers, my son stopped eating canned foods. Within weeks, all his symptoms–painful symptoms he has suffered for ten years–have completely disappeared. The reason? He is no longer ingesting BPA.
Thousands of impoverished people in the US are homeless, in shelters or group homes, with no ability to store food in refrigerators or cook food on stovetops. They are forced to eat out of cans at each meal. Shelters serve food daily to the hungry from cans donated in canned food drives. The resulting physical problems caused by BPA cost the taxpayer millions of dollars to treat.
I believe our FDA is complicit in harming the health of the poor by not banning BPA. Compounding the problem, the government then siphons taxpayer money to help the poor with resulting prostate and kidney operations, hospitalization, and medication.
I want to know why the FDA permits a chemical like BPA to be used in food containers when it is so dangerous. I want to know why the FDA doesn’t ban BPA now that it is known to cause widespread medical problems.
The chemical companies are in bed with the lawmakers and the FDA. They are mercenaries committing genocide, and the FDA is the accomplice.
My family has vowed not to eat canned foods until BPA is banned.
What else can we do?
Carol Green, Retired California Teacher
Does anyone know for sure if the boxed soups, broths, etc. have BPA in them? I’ve called all the companies for the boxed soups I have at home and none of them can give me a straight answer, which makes me wonder? I’ve called target for their organic Archer farm soups in the box and Swanson for the boxed organic broths, neither could give me an answer for sure? Any help/advice on the boxed options would be greatly appreciated…thanks so much. 🙂
i want to swap my kids plasticware (plates and bowls) out for stainless steel. its so expensive! i wondered if bought a “camping set” of the red or blue speckle enamel stainless steel if that would be safe…? does anyone know if this contains BPA?