I was recently reminded by an article in the New York Times about the dangers lurking in plastic. It highlighted a study which "found that endocrine disruptors that are sometimes added to PVC plastic cause mice to grow obese and suffer liver problems"...suggesting that endocrine disrupting chemicals such as BPA and phhalates may be related to American obesity epidemics, among other health issues.
What you may not know is that these endocrine disruptors are found in everyday products all around us, from BPA in plastic water bottles, aluminum can linings, and grocery store receipts to phthalates in plastic wrap, PVC building materials, shower curtains and even children's backpacks (ahem Disney).
Meanwhile, it was promising to see another study showing how quickly people were able to reduce their levels of BPA and phthalates by avoiding them for just three days. While I try to limit my own exposure to canned foods, I have been using plastic quite liberally for food storage. I've decided that one of my 2013 resolutions is to reduce plastic in my life.
Currently, I use plastic yogurt containers, tupperwares, and freezer bags for carrying lunch to work and for storing leftovers in the fridge and freezer. I have been wanting to get glass containers for food storage, but putting it off because large plastic yogurt containers are plentiful and always multiplying in my home, and glassware is expensive. Also because plastic is lighter and less dangerous for carrying lunch to work on my bicycle. But I should just suck it up and buy a set of glass containers - or maybe metal. My two concerns are needing containers that are compact so they won't take up too much room in my biking bag and are airtight so they won't leak (being that I carry my change of clothes in the same bag to work).
I also want to buy reusable cloth bags for buying bulk goods at the grocery store and more jars to store dry goods at home. Lately, I've been stocking up on such a large variety of bulk goods that they just end up staying in their plastic bags once they make it to my kitchen cabinet. I tried to buy some cloth bags a few years ago, but they were too small and too likely to spill.
I already use a stainless steel Sigg as my water bottle. I continue to try to choose beer from the tap or glass bottles rather than cans whenever available (Which is a shame because one of my favorite breweries, Sixpoint, chose to sell their beer in cans because cans are less energy intensive to produce and transport than glass...everyone should just get BPA out of cans.)
I can also ask cashiers if they have the option of not printing my receipt, so that neither of us have to handle receipts.
One thing I'm not sure how to get around is storing slices of bread in my freezer, since I can't go through a loaf quickly enough to keep it in the bread box. This has been discussed before in the comments on My Plastic Free Life with no real solution.
I also can't talk about plastic without acknowledging that a big use of plastic in my life over the past year and a half has been storing my clothes in plastic bags due to ongoing bed bug problems (It's standard protocol in order to keep them from hiding in your stuff and from carrying them around to other places.) It's been easier to just keep my clothes in the bags then have to reclean all of them every time the problem recurs. Some of my clothes actually have that plastic smell from being in bags for so long. It is what it is and I've had to accept it. Hopefully, I can move past my paranoia enough to take my clothes out of bags soon.
Silent Spring has some more suggestions for simple steps to avoid BPA and phthalates in food. Can you think of anything I'm missing? Are there any changes you made to eliminate plastic from your life?