What is plastic? Any synthetic material is, from a given temperature onwards, malleable, that is plastic. Therefore synthetic material is often referred to simply as plastic. There are countless types of plastic.
Plastic is everywhere: beautiful glasses, coloured fonts, unbreakable beverage bottles, plastic bags, transparent containers for frozen pizzas, in anything from nuts to whole oats, shampoo tubes, hygienic items covered in plastic wrap. Even the shelves of biological shops are full of plastic containers.
The packaging industry represents, with about 30% of all production of synthetic materials, a considerable contingent. The rest is divided between appliance manufacturing, construction, clothing, footwear …
What began in 1905 with the manufacturing of the first entirely synthetic material – Bakelite – and that revealed itself, both in everyday life and in our “technified” workplace, to be wonderfully light, hygienic, strong, favourable and of multiple usage, has become a serious environmental problem.
The assumption that the hazardous substances contained in plastic products are chemically bound is wrong. This debris can take up to 500 years to decompose, but it will never disintegrate biologically.
90% of the world population already has tiny plastic particles in the blood, tissue or urine. Amongst the
numerous hazardous substances bisphenol A and phthalates, known as plasticizers, come in at number one.
Bisphenol A (BPA) is the most produced chemical worldwide (4 million tons per year). Without BPA hard plastic could not be made. Food packages, wrap or plastic sheets, household appliances, CDs, toys, linings of cans, but also pesticides, cosmetics and medications all contain this hazardous substance.
BPA is an endocrine effect substance, and is among the “environmental hormones” (endocrine disruptors ED). Environmental hormones are not exactly body hormones, but molecules which behave like natural hormones. BPA behaves similarly to estrogens. As they are microscopically small they can penetrate the skin and can also be taken into the human body through breathing.
Environmental hormones directly attack our hormonal system and alter it. They cause, for example a decreased sperm quality which can reach infertility in males; they may cause prostate, ovarian and breast tumours (hormonally caused cancer). They may also cause premature sexual maturation in adolescents, diabetes, and obesity. But above all embryos are most affected as their evolution within the womb depends upon hormones. Pathological disorders often appear only after many years.
In 2011, the use of BPA for baby bottles was finally banned in Europe. Why not enforce this ban to all environmental hormones? Currently, the EU-Commission in Brussels is deliberating if it would be opportune to determine the threshold values for endocrine effect substances, instead of excluding them from the market altogether. This threshold value would be advantageous for industry, but not for us.
That small amounts of endocrine effect substances and their mixtures are in the long run detrimental to the health, for humans, plants and animals, has been shown by thousands of studies. In this respect there is an urgent need for decisions AGAINST the use of such chemicals. The setting of limit or threshold values is not enough.
Let’s get back to the packaging of foodstuffs.
What good is organic cheese in synthetic packaging? In theory cheese is pure, but what happens with the plastic wrap around it? Nothing tells me how many harmful substances are contained in such packaging. Many softeners are fat soluble and penetrate the food that we then eat. Bon appétit!
What happens to mineral water? According to user statistics around 160 litres are drunk per head per year in Germany. Some people drink even more.
In 2009, within a research project (sponsored by the Federal Office of the Environment), mineral water and its content of environmental hormones was examined. Water in PET plastic bottles had double the content compared with water in glass bottles. Professor Jörg Oehlmann, project director of the Goetheuniversität says:
“If it is shown that the leaching of endocrine disruptors in synthetic packaging is a general phenomenon, it would mean that almost the entire range of our food has considerable hormonal content.”
How can we avoid these harmful substances?
Stay as close as possible to nature. Nature is the most intelligent entity that exists.
Recycling plastic waste is good and important. Avoiding plastic altogether is better and has priority.
Put aside all the plastic in your living space. Everything that comes into direct contact with food and your body should not be made of synthetic materials. The old mop bucket can stay.
Clothes made of natural materials such as cotton, wool or linen will neither hurt you nor the environment.
You should always take along a cloth bag or a shopping basket to avoid plastic bags.
Vegetables and fruit should always be bought without plastic wrap. At the market you can always find products without packaging. Seek a farmer or market gardener who has left their vegetables to grow without pesticides, and support him so he can continue with his organic farming.
Choose cosmetics which are as natural as possible; hair spray, nail polish, miracle creams etc. are best avoided. True beauty comes from within a person. SMILE!
The first supermarket without packaging in Berlin is called “Original unverpackt” “Original unpackaged” and is a good example of how buying without packaging can really work.
A simple and healthy container for storing and transporting food is glass. Glass is also great for freezing soups, potages etc. Do not completely fill glass containers as the frozen content tends to increase in volume.
Now you can buy trash bags of compostable material. They cost more, but they’re worth it.
Your favourite drink only comes in plastic bags? Look for another brand! Only by changing our habits and making some little sacrifices can we improve our environment and our surroundings.
If you always carry a small glass /mug in your handbag, you will never have to drink from plastic cups, not even on airplanes.
IMPORTANT: Environmental hormones are harmful to nature in its most crucial point: the reproduction of life, and its normal evolution. The survival of all mankind, fauna and flora depends on this. This cannot be guaranteed without a healthy hormonal system. Those environmental hormones which significantly harm the environment should be eliminated from the ecological cycle, the sooner the better.
The first synthetic PVC bottles on the market appeared in 1960, while the use of plastic bags dates back to 1957. With more awareness and dedication it is possible to avoid their use.
The oceans are full of plastic debris, both on the surface and in the depths….. the beaches ….. the fish…… and us as well.
Say NO to plastic
 The impact of Endocrin Disruption: A Consensus Statement on the State of the Science, in: Environmental Health Perspectives, Volume 121, Number 4, April 2013.
 Umweltgifte und Lobbyismus, in: SAT 3, (TV) Mediathek, 15.01.2015
 Endocrine disruptors in bottled mineral water: total estrogenic burden and migration from plastic bottles, Environmental Science and Pollution Research, Wagner, M. & Oehlmann, J. (2009), Online First: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11356-009-0107-7