When it comes to making healthy lifestyle choices, I think it all comes back to the micro- and the macro- ... the unavoidable ultimate truth that we are all connected: individuals, groups of people, and the environment. If we are bombarded by any single substance, in our bodies or around us polluting the planet, we are bound to suffer. This seems to be the case with diet, where most things in moderation are ok. But if patterns are repeated endlessly or substances consumed in huge quantities, health risk seems inevitable. On a larger scale, products we use daily end up not only in our bodies, but in our landfills and our water supplies, and may be creating health hazards from the moment they are produced, until their supposed eventual breakdown. Look into how much plastic currently exists in our oceans: it is not a pretty picture.
What about plastics?
I am not a scientist, but if you think about it, it makes sense that the ways we use plastic are probably not healthy. I have seen old plastic bags disintegrate, plastic containers warp in the microwave, have smelled plastic burning (not pleasant!)... At the same time, we have all heard statistics on how long it takes for plastics to actually decompose, if ever. Plastic is a man-made substance, created for "convenience" and has pretty much overrun our lives. It is not natural, and as all things mass-produced it is made as cheaply as possible, of questionable materials. A quick google search on "the dangers of plastic" brings up countless results, largely centered on BPA:
The dangers of BPA: http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/magazine/winter10plastics/
BPA and BPA-free dangers: http://www.naturalhealth365.com/science_news/bpa.html
While pretty much impossible to avoid entirely, it seems worthwhile to limit our exposure to (and ingestion of) plastics. Glass and metal are some obvious alternatives, although it pays to investigate where they were made, and whether they are lined with potentially harmful substances. Natural fabrics are another possibility for uses such as lunch bags, particularly if they are organic.
One interesting alternative I have come across in my search for eco-friendly products is bamboo. In researching "What makes bamboo sustainable?" I came across the following (among many other results): http://sustainablematerials.com/bamboo/
It seems that bamboo is actually a grass, not a wood, and is therefore much faster-growing than trees, and does not typically require the use of pesticides. Again, I am still just a beginner at trying to understand sustainability and truly eco-friendly products, but am encouraged to see the existence of such alternatives. Let the search continue... Meanwhile take a look at my new Eco-Friendly page for even more product recommendations.
Instead of paying for branding and plastic covers, why not go with recycled paper products? Choose less mass-produced, and more eco-friendly designs by artists and artisans, or decorate them yourself! The possibilities are endless.
Just discovered! Huge variety of eco-friendly products at grassroots... and they're Canadian :)