Rumors About Reusables
Story by Alysse Gear
“Reuse” is quickly becoming the biggest word in the triad “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.” But some things we reuse on a daily basis might not be good for the environment—or our bodies. Take a look at these myths and facts about going green.
Myth: Reusable bags are actually worse for the environment than plastic.
One million plastic bags are produced around the world each minute, according to goriseup.com. And each of those bags takes 500 to 1,000 years to degrade—much longer than the 20 minutes they transport groceries between store and kitchen.
Enter reusable bags. Each can replace 350 plastic ones annually. The trade-off is the emissions created in production—something that’s been hyped up, causing some people to stop using them. But the environmental effects of plastic bags are worse in the long run, so reusables—canvas, polyester, or even polypropylene—are better options for our earth.
No bag is better. “The real fact is you don’t need a bag for items that you can easily carry out or put in your purse,” says Dr. Elaine Wilkes, author of Nature’s Secret Messages: Hidden in Plain Sight.
Try this bag: ECOBAGS® – Recycled Cotton Tote, Natural
Fact: Water bottles are leaching chemicals into your beverages.
Cheap plastic reusable water bottles are now being researched for a different kind of emission. Rather than pumping greenhouse gases into our air, they emit Bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates into our drinks.
A study at the University of California about BPA, one of the most extensively tested materials today, found that it may cause changes in breast, uterus, and prostate cells—increasing the risk of some cancers. In animals, BPA has also shown developmental side effects similar to disorders like ADHD in humans.
“More than 90% of our population will test positive right now for BPA in the bloodstream,” says Manuel Maqueda, cofounder of the Plastic Pollution Coalition. As studies of BPA and other chemicals in plastic continue, using safe and proven options like aluminum, glass, and stainless steel is a good idea.
Try this bottle: Earthlust 33 oz Stainless Steel Bottle
Fact: Plastic food containers could be bad for you.
Water bottles aren’t the only BPA-bearing containers. Plastic food containers—used both in packaging and home storage—can have iffy effects on your insides. “BPA increases with heat and acidity. And there’s more BPA in food than in drinks, in general,” says Maqueda. “Once you buy something in plastic, get it out of the plastic. Store it in glass or ceramic or something else.”
Like plastic bags, food containers spend a lot of time in landfills after their job is done. Products like Gladware and Ziploc bags don’t have long lifespans in our fridges, but they last centuries in landfills. They’re better than one-time-use packaging, but by not much. Instead, try long-lasting ceramic containers or new products that use natural fibers like cotton.
Try this container: LunchSkins Sandwich Bag