Debbie Clark studied a systems approach to sustainability with the government and now learns from various environmental groups, including 350 Fairfax. She practices reducing, recycling, and composting. 

Plastics are part of our daily life. During manufacture, plastics are infused with chemicals to make them less brittle, more flexible, more attractive. When using plastic products, these chemicals can leach into our food, water, and air, thus into our bodies. Be aware. Reduce the use of these toxins. Vote with your dollars to replace them.

Common plastic ingredients to avoid:

Phthalates—Endocrine disruptors linked to reproductive malformations, reduced fertility, developmental disorders, asthma, and increased allergic reactions.

Bisphenol-A (BPA) (and possibly its replacement BPS)—A hormone disruptor linked to many problems, including cancer, infertility, and heart disease.

Common plastics to avoid:

#3 plastic, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), is the most toxic plastic. When produced, it releases dioxins, phthalates, vinyl chloride, ethylene dichloride, lead, cadmium, and other toxic chemicals. It can leach many of these into the water or food it is being used to contain.

#6 plastic, polystyrene (PS) or Styrofoam, is widely applied to packaging and insulation. Found in disposable drinking cups, egg cartons, to-go food containers and disposable cutlery. #6 plastic is cheap to produce and hard to recycle, making it even more important to avoid.

#7 plastic encompasses all “other” plastics and often combinations of them. It can include polycarbonate (PC) and BPA. Try to avoid products with the PC label. It can be found in everything from sport and baby bottles to medical and dental equipment.

To reduce these chemicals in our bodies, reduce plastic in your life. Choose to eat more fresh food and avoid storing and heating food in plastic. Avoid plastics #3, #6, #7, and single-use plastic bottles and bags. Use more glass, stainless steel, and ceramics. When we buy a product, we “vote” for its continuation. If we stop buying bottled water, plasticware, etc., companies will eventually stop making them or find a healthy substitute.

—Debbie Clark