Going plastic free for healthy living

Living without plastic to some may seem difficult and even pointless. However it is now being widely researched and studies have revealed omitting major plastic contamination through your daily use can make all the difference in your health and wellbeing.

Not only is plastic polluting to the planet and destroying wildlife and contaminating food resources from the ocean but it is also causing many harmful effects for frequent users of plastics. Studies have shown that certain chemicals contained in plastic can have a detrimental impact on your endocrine system.

Plastic was first produced in 1907. Earlier plastics where derived from natural materials such as rubber and collagen. However since then it has evolved and now made completely from synthetic materials which has been mass produced since the 1950s and in our current day we are seeing a lot more plastic than ever before.

The Health Risks of Plastic

Plastic contains chemicals such as bisphenol A (BPA) and di-(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP). These chemicals are known to disrupt the endocrine system and alter hormone production. A study carried out by researchers at Harvard School of Public Health has shown that exposure to BPA in the womb is linked with behaviour and emotional problems in young girls.

BPA has been found to interfere normal development in animals and has also been linked with diabetes and cardiovascular disease in humans.

The study also showed drinking from plastic bottles increased the level of urinary BPA. BPA leeches more into containers with warm or hot content such a plastic baby milk bottle or a hot meal in plastic food containers.

Products containing harmful plastic

BPA can be found in a variety of consumer products which include:

Food packaging

Canned food (used as a lining)

Polycarbonate plastics

Receipts (unless made of paper)

How to use less plastic for better health

It may be difficult to remove the use of all plastic however there are many alternatives. Although many BPA free plastic items are available it is better for your health to adopt plastic free living as much as possible as not a lot of studies have been done for other synthetic compounds found in plastic. The following are many common products that are alternative to plastic which you can make a habit of using.

Glass or Stainless Steel Straws

Straws are a popular item and even a necessary item to help prevent certain acidic drinks from destroying the enamel. Glass straws are a better alternative to plastic straws, they are durable and with proper care and handling can last a long time. You can also use stainless steel straws which are a lot more durable however these may cause acidic drinks to leach the metal which is why glass is preferable.

Food storage containers

You can save and recycle large mason jars to contain a lot of your food. Use containers that are made from glass, you can purchase glass ovenware containers. These come with plastic lids however are BPA free and they can be used for storage and cooking in the oven (without the lid).

Lunch Boxes

Lunch boxes are available in a variety of materials. There are metal stainless steel lunch boxes and glass boxes which are the most ideal.

Meal prepping boxes

Using meal prepping boxes made from pla plastic which is plant based plastic is more ideal than synthetically derived plastic containers. Although you can simply use glass lunchboxes these are light weight.

Kitchen Utensils

Many utensils are available in wooden and metal materials so it should be easy to avoid plastic counterparts. When choosing metal utensils be sure it is not made from aluminum as this is a heavy metal and has been linked to Alzheimer’s.

Party cutlery and tableware

Avoid plastic cutleries and tableware for parties or even picnics, instead opt for eco friendly options choose knives, forks spoons made from plant based plastic that are 100% biodegradable. Opt for eco friendly straws made from paper or wood. Choose biodegradable plates and bowls or containers.


There’s no doubt that virtually most toothbrushes are made from plastic and this can cause even more problems as we continue to expose ourselves to plastic on a daily basis.

Although plastic toothbrushes have bristles commonly made from nylon which can withstand high heat this is mostly dependent on the strength of nylon used and nylon has also shown to be linked with a host of other problems. Bamboo toothbrushes are your best option, they are eco friendly and better for the planet, however some have bristles made from nylon.

A 100% eco friendly bamboo toothbrush has bristles made from natural boar bristles. For those who want to avoid animal based brushes there are toothbrushes with bristles made from plant based materials but with a certain amount of plastic added to it. Miswak may be an option to consider as it is 100% plant based and contains a natural antibacterial oil however care should be taken not to over brush with Miswak as the bristles can be quite hard.

Hair brush and comb

You are going to be brushing your hair on a regular basis which makes sense to replace your brushes with natural counterparts. Use a boar bristle hair brush or wooden brushes with natural plant based bristles. Combs are also available in natural wooden material.

Bodycare products and containers

Shower gels, shampoo, body scrubs, lotion and many body and skin care products are often contained in plastics which are very likely to leech into the products which will then be added to the skin causing contamination. To avoid this buy soaps preferably natural that are contained in boxes. Shampoos maybe a little trickier which may mean making your own and storing in a suitable container not made from plastic.

Body puffs and synthetic body sponges should be avoided at all costs, the contact between these items and your skin may have as much adverse effect as from drinking from a plastic water bottle. Instead consider natural options, use a loofah, natural sea sponge, konjac sponge or a flannel made from bamboo or cotton.

Water bottle

Plastic water bottles are one of the major sources of BPA and should be completely avoided. Use a refillable glass bottle or a durable stainless steel bottle making sure there is no aluminium in the metal. If you are going to drink juices, smoothies make sure they come in glass bottles or 100% biodegrable bottles that are less likely to have contamination issues. You can also buy some drinks that come in glass bottles and recycle these to use as a water bottle or your own homemade juices and smoothies.

Adopt a zero waste lifestyle

This lifestyle boasts the very limited use of plastic that can begin to reverse any health effects from plastics and most of the above suggested tips are also part of the zero waste lifestyle. By using this attitude you are helping the planet and reversing health issues that can be a direct result of plastic contamination.

There are many adopting the zero waste lifestyle who are using eco friendly shopping bags which can be paper, cloth, hemp or jute bags. Shop at bulk stores for food that will let you weigh the item and allow you to use your own containers and bags. You can shop at farmers market taking your own bags or simply buy loose vegetables and fruits from your supermarket.

If you are shopping for meat use your local butcher and take your containers of choice in order to avoid meat to be stored in plastic bags. You can simply tell your butcher that you are avoiding plastic. Most butchers will tare your container to bring the scale to 0 and begin to weigh your meat or poultry. The same applies for purchasing fish from the fishmongers.

Fish and Sea Food Choices

Most plastic is ending up in the ocean and because of this it is contaminating most fish and seafood, due to this factor for those who eat fish or seafood often it can be a problem and cause further absorption of harmful chemicals from plastics. To avoid the issue try to limit intake of larger fishes such as salmon. Sardines, anchovies and other smaller fish may be fine to eat regularly as they are less likely to be heavily contaminated although not completely free from plastic due to their shorter lifespan.

By adding these solutions to your lifestyle you are promoting less plastic to get into the ocean and contaminate the environment. It is good to have environmental awareness as this is part and parcel of health and well-being.