In August, the American Association of Pediatrics (AAP) published a new policy on Food Additives and Child’s Health recommending we start limiting exposure of plastic, among other things, to children. Due to this new recommendation, so many moms are interested in avoiding plastic, especially for littles, but are unsure where to start.
A few of the AAP recommendations for plastic include:
- Avoiding plastic when possible by using alternatives such as glass and stainless steel.
- Avoiding using the microwave or dishwasher with plastics.
- Especially avoiding plastics with recycling codes 3, 6, 7 (unless labeled as greenware or bio-based meaning they are made from corn.)
It can certainly feel like plastic is EVERYWHERE. However, I’m going to walk you through some easy first steps to reducing your family’s exposure to plastic.
Why We Should Reduce the Use of Plastic
Avoiding Plastic for Health Concerns
The AAP recommended especially limiting plastic to children and infants as they are, in general, more vulnerable to chemical exposure. They mention the concern that food additives and packaging can have a negative health impact by being endocrine disruptors (as well as other health consequences.)
They even mention that current regulations to make something “generally recognized as safe” are insufficient to ensure safety and ARE NOT FREE OF CONFLICT OF INTEREST. (This is a huge pet peeve of mine in the food industry, and I was personally excited to hear an organization as big as the AAP acknowledging it.)
Avoid Plastics and Save the Earth
It probably goes without saying that plastic is not eco-friendly. Many plastics are non-biodegradable, and even those that are will often be mixed with types that aren’t during manufacturing. That is why it continues to pile up in landfills and leach into our soil and water, wreaking havoc on our fragile ecosystem. By reducing our plastic use and being better stewards of the Earth, we can help preserve the planet for future generations and make it a healthier and less consumer-driven place now.
Earlier this year around Earth Day I wrote an article about making an eco-friendly kitchen. So, be sure to read how to go green in your kitchen for more ideas to reduce plastic and other waste.
Avoid Plastic in Our Daily Life
Honestly, I’ve been leery about plastics for years and switched all of my water bottles and food storage containers to glass and stainless steel quite some time ago. However, I did still have some plastic lingering around. I’ve made a more concentrated effort to declutter much of my remaining plastic since having a baby. I found that I rarely used most of it anyway and love the extra space it created in my cabinets.
While this doesn’t mean I never, ever use plastic (we still own ziplock bags…along with a few reusable bags too) and we don’t worry about drinking out of plastic on occasion, I do work to avoid plastic in our daily life by limiting my own personal use of plastic.
Completely eliminating plastic is tough. However, a few changes and intentional decisions can lead you to use less plastic over time and reduce your children’s exposure to plastic.
Simple Steps to Avoiding Plastic
These are some steps we have taken that I feel make a big impact in reducing our plastic exposure with out too much trouble on my part. For many of them, it involved investing in some different containers, glasses, and cooking equipment. Once the initial change is made it’s done.
1. Avoid plastic water bottles, cups, and other plastic drinkware.
- Get a stainless steel insulated water bottle for hot summer days! They are all over stores right now and honestly, any brand I’ve tried works great.
- Glass water bottles also work well though they don’t keep drinks cool if it’s hot out. I typically use mine for indoor activities or when the weather is mild. My favorite glass water bottle is the Zulu water bottle with flip lid (The flip lid really does make a difference for driving! My husband is always stealing mine to take to work now that I’m home most of the time.)
- Use glass drinkware at home instead of plastic. We use these Ello glass tumblers which we just love. (Replace the plastic straw with a silicone one for less plastic exposure.)
- Choose silicone or glass bottles for babies. Our baby does best with Dr. Brown’s glass bottles, but we also tried and loved the Comotomo bottles (baby just didn’t.)
- Switch plastic sippy cups over to stainless steel or silicone. We have been using this Foogoo water bottle and really like it (again, the straw is plastic.) I also bought my son a Munchkin Miracle Stainless Steel 360 cup, but was disappointed the lid had so much plastic in it.
2. Use glass and stainless steel food storage containers.
Another easy first step is to avoid plastic containers. Goodbye Tupperware. 😢 But honestly, trust me, you won’t miss it! I love the clean look of my Glasslock and Pyrex storage containers when I open my fridge. Plus, I can actually SEE INSIDE all of my containers. No more forgetting what I have in which container. With an active baby, I need all of the simplicity in my life that I can get.
3. Switch to silicone, wooden, and stainless steel utensils.
Another easy switch that packs a big punch. Basically, the AAP advises being careful with plastic in high heat (like the dishwasher and microwave.) It makes sense then that you wouldn’t want plastic to leach into your food as you cook. Chances are half your utensils are already safe so this is another easy change. Plus, wooden, silicone, and stainless steel utensils are higher quality and will last longer.
4. Encourage silicone and wood teethers and toys.
Babies put EVERYTHING in their mouths. While we haven’t necessarily avoided plastic toys, we did try to avoid plastic teethers, opting instead for silicone and wood.
Taking it a step further and avoiding plastic toys would be more of a challenge. I mean sure, in a dream world we may all have perfectly curated play rooms full of only beautiful wooden and fabric toys. Nothing plastic and Pinterest beautiful. However, this is NOT my reality. What I can do is choose more wooden toys.
And to be completely honest, babies like to put everything they shouldn’t in their mouth anyway and my baby is only interested in his toys for about 2.5 seconds right now before he’s off to eat the plastic blinds, chew on his books, and climb into the kitchen cabinets.
So, my main goal, is to just ensure that everything that is SUPPOSED to go in his mouth or store his food in is not plastic (teethers, plates, eating utensils, etc.)
5. Avoid plastic bags at the grocery
Bring along those reusable bags. If you’ll remember from my Earth Day post, this has been a goal of mine this year. I still frequently forget to bring them in to Kroger and I’ve been using grocery store pick up a lot more. Not to mention, it seems like anytime I order online for store pickup they use an excessive amount of plastic shopping bags. (I would love to hear any solutions you may have come up with for this!)
6. Go Digital
Consider going digital with purchases such as music and movies. It’s becoming increasingly easy to stream music and videos/movies online. Obviously, this one won’t affect your health but it can affect your home and the environment.
In fact, many people may think Amazon Prime is just 2 days shipping, but it also include many movies and music streaming!
Plastic Free Living: Your Journey to Avoiding Plastic
A few years ago, I wrote a post on the cost of consumerism on our eating habits and talked about all the packaging of food products. Buying in bulk, limiting processed food consumption, and choosing whole fresh foods are all easy ways to reduce our plastic consumption.
Changing our water bottles, cooking utensils, and other household items as we are able to reduce plastic exposure will help limit chemical exposure and make an big impact on our environment.