Here are some stoplight holiday favorites:
The yellow foods are still not great, but limit these portions because they are delicious, traditional holiday foods that still contain plenty of added fat and sugar. They are still better choices than the red foods, though!
The green foods include salads with low fat dressings, roasted vegetables with minimal fat and maximum flavor added, and still some desserts! Enjoy these foods and choose them as much as possible!
Origin of Plastics
Plastics were originally developed from plant fibers in the 19th century to replace certain household items like brushes and combs primarily made from ivory and tortoise shell. Synthetic plastic was developed in the early 20th century and was a blend formaldehyde and phenol (from tar). Plastics have continued to evolve and have allowed for the creation of many types of products that would be difficult to produce using other materials like metals or wood. The creation of fuel based plastics transformed our modern world. There is virtually no area of manufacturing that doesn’t heavily involve the use of plastics due to its convenience and low cost. Recently, however the many environmental and health impacts of plastics have left alternatives to consider over its continued use.
Plastics are not biodegradable and therefore remain in the environment a long time. Plastics take anywhere from 100-1000 years to completely degrade! Plastic trash alone accounts for 25% of all landfill waste and makes its way into oceans and ecosystems, damaging marine and bird life. Plastics account for over 1 million deaths of marine creatures every year.
Phthalates or phthalate esters are substances added to plastics that increase their flexibility (incorporated into PVC). PVC is widely used in toys and children’s products like teethers and inflatable toys. Phthalates can be airborne, can be absorbed by surface contact, and can also leech into food. Phthalates have been linked to increased adiposity, decreased sex hormones, and reproductive disturbances. Infants are particularly vulnerable to phthalates due to their immature reproductive and metabolic systems. Temperature and pH are large determinants in the level of phthalate exposure possible. Therefore plastic products stored in warm warehouses, left in hot cars, or microwaved, as well as acidic products like vinegar and sodas should be used with caution or completely avoided.
Bisphenol A (BPA) is another area of growing concern in plastics. BPA is found in polycarbonate plastics used for plastic water and soda bottles, compact discs, food cans, bottle tops, some dental sealants, and water supply pipes. BPA from food and beverages is where most human exposure occurs. The extent to which BPA is leached into our products is due mostly to higher temperatures like microwaving, leaving in hot cars, and storage in warm areas. BPA has been linked to endocrine disruption, including early development of mammary glands and puberty in females, birth defects, and reproductive effects.
Ways to Minimize Plastic Exposures
The most important way to minimize your exposure is to avoid plastic use for your food and beverages when possible. Instead store and heat foods in glass containers. Also, consider using glass or stainless steel reusable bottles for water, breast milk, and other liquids. When it comes to toys for your children, switch to silicone or BPA free products. Silicone teethers, organic cotton toys, and bamboo toys are just a few of the many alternatives available to decrease plastic exposure. For a quick reference guide to plastics, refer to the list below.