Years ago, it started to become trendy to drink bottled water. In restaurants, I see people specify that they want bottled water, not tap water. In fact, soda sales in the U.S. have dropped for 12 consecutive quarters as more people have turned to bottled water and healthier beverages, according to a report from Beverage Digest.
While I’m happy to see that fewer people are drinking soda, I’m disturbed by the fact that people are still drinking anything from plastic bottles, including water.
Most water bottles are made from very cheap plastic. These kinds of plastics contain endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs), particularly phthalates, which are banned in the European Union but legal in the U.S. Bisphenol A (BPA) is another common EDC found in tin food cans, plastic containers and cosmetics.
Also called xenoestrogens, EDCs affect the endocrine tissues that produce hormones They mimic natural hormones such as estrogen and androgen and bind to receptors in human cells, which prevents the body’s natural hormones from doing so. As a result, the body is unable to properly respond to stress and injury, regulate energy, and control growth and development.
This affects everyone – men, women, children and even unborn babies.
EDCs have been most commonly linked to neurological disorders such as ADHD and autism, according to scientific research. Studies suggest that EDCs can also contribute to cancer, diabetes, obesity, infertility and endometriosis.
A report from NYU Langone estimates that the chemicals found in plastic bottles result in $340 billion in health-related costs in the U.S. each year. Aside from the health risks and costs, there’s the environmental impact. Plastic bottles are comprised of synthetic, manmade materials that take forever to break down in landfills. Regardless of where you stand on global warming and climate change, everyone should be for less pollution and fewer landfills.
Unfortunately, dangerous chemicals aren’t just found in plastic water bottles. They’re found in everything from children’s toys and baby bottles to receipts and disposable cardboard cups.
So what can we do to limit our exposure to these harmful chemicals?
Some will say to just check the label. However, a label that says “BPA-free” could contain another chemical that’s equally harmful. It’s kind of like “sugar-free” products that are loaded with high fructose corn syrup. All these substances are bad for you.
There’s also a triangular “chasing arrows” symbol found on plastic bottles, containers and products. The number in the triangle is supposed to tell you what type of plastic is used for the product. The number 7 category includes BPA and should be avoided.
The best thing to do is to avoid plastics whenever possible. Drink from glass and stainless steel, not plastic. Use water filters installed where water enters the home, in the refrigerator or on a faucet. This is far healthier and almost always cheaper than drinking bottled water.
Buy fresh food, not canned food. Never microwave food in plastic containers because heat contributes to the degradation of plastic, causing chemicals to leach into its contents. Even non-stick pots and pans can have harmful chemicals. Use old-fashioned cast iron pots and pans instead.
Plastic is not okay just because many bottles and containers can be recycled. The damage done to the human body before plastic hits the recycling bin can be even worse than the damage to the environment.
As always, it’s your choice. You have control. Make the choice to stay away from plastics as much as possible, and keep plastics out of the hands and mouths of your kids.