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Getting to know your Plastics

I am often asked “what’s the one single thing I can do to improve my health?” – the honest answer is there are many ‘single things’…

In each of our THPT sessions we work on improving  your training regime, your fuel intake, reducing stress levels, improving quality or quantity of sleep and achieving goals.  Plus a few times a year we consciously undertake the THPT detox.  To take this detox a step further is to consider the other pollutants you are surrounded by and how to reduce your exposure.  One of those that has been a hot topic for some time is reducing your exposure to unnecessary chemicals.  The first step to improving your environment is knowledge and this gives you the power to choose to do something about it.  Let’s start with plastics…

Plastics contain chemicals such as BPA, PVC and phthalates that leach into food.  BPA is an estrogenic activator which mimics hormones and can cause many health problems.  Phthalates are industrial chemicals used as plastic softeners or solvents. They have been linked to liver, kidney and reproductive organ damage.

You may be aware of the numbers in the triangles on plastics if you recycle. Most recycling companies do not accept certain numbers, but there are more important facts to know about the types of plastics. The plastics to seriously avoid are numbers 3, 6 and 7.

Number 3 is vinyl (V) or polyvinylchloride (PVC) and has been found to contain BPA and phthalates which can be released into food and drinks. Number 3 plastic is found in cooking oil bottles and clear food packaging. The highest risk is when the containers are heated, including in the microwave, and as they start wearing out or are put through a dishwasher.  Some plastic lumber makers will take them for recycling but that is rare. PVC contains chlorine and as it is manufactured it releases highly toxic dioxins into the environment. Do not let this plastic touch food and never burn it because of the released toxins.

Number 6 is polystyrene (PS) found in disposable plates / cups, meat trays, egg cartons, aspirin bottles and take-away containers. It can be either rigid or foam (trademark Styrofoam) and leaches toxins (including styrene) into foods, especially when heated. It should not be used for hot drinks.  It is not accepted for recycling and tends to litter the earth.

Number 7 is the miscellaneous category of a variety of plastic resins that do not fit into any other category. Typically three and five gallon water bottles, baby bottles, certain food containers and the “bullet-proof” plastic materials are number 7.  Usually not recycled, a few made from plants (polyactide) can be composted.  A scary member of the group is polycarbonate, the hard plastic found in drinking containers like Nalgene bottles and rigid plastic baby bottles. It has been shown to leach the hormone disruptor BPA which is most unsafe. In August 2011, a government panel expressed concern that it causes neural and behavioral problems in children.  Swap out number 7 bottles for shatter-resistant glass or Number 1, 5 or corn-based plastics.

There are four less damaging plastics, numbers 1, 2, 4 and 5 . These are still not as safe as glass or stainless steel,  but if you must use plastic,  look for these:

Number 1 is polyethylene terephthalat (PET or PETE), most commonly found in water, soda and beer bottles because it is cheap and light and easily recycled, though only about twenty percent escapes the landfills. It has the lowest risk of leaching chemicals into food, although it has been shown that higher temperatures can cause the release of the heavy metal antimony by PET.

Number 2 is high density polyethylene (HDPE), found in milk jugs, butter / yogurt cartons, box liners, juice bottles and shopping bags. It is also easily recycled and is a low risk for chemical leaching.

Number 4 is low density polyethylene (LDPE) found in squeeze bottles, bread packaging, frozen foods packaging and in shopping bags. It is not usually accepted by recycling centers, but many stores have plastic shopping bag recycle boxes. It is a very flexible plastic which tends to litter the earth and use up energy resources.

Number 5 is polypropylene (PP), found in some yogurt containers, syrup and ketchup bottles, caps, straws and medicine bottles. With its high melting point it is used for containers for hot liquids and is gradually becoming more recyclable.  Instead of plastic containers you can use glass that is:

  • 100 percent recyclable and sustainable
  • safe and environmentally friendly
  • microwave safe
  • dishwasher and freezer safe
  • has clips that lock to make it airtight
  • has measuring lines for monitoring food intake

or stainless steel that is lighter than glass, doesn’t break and goes right on the stove top.  Although it may seem an extreme way of living check out the stainless steel and glass food storage containers and tips at Life Without Plastic - you’ll be amazed how much we use it.

The knowledge is now yours – next time you are using anything plastic look for the triangle and the number in it to see what kind plastic you are using and whether with a bit of conscious action there is a better option.  Here’s to a happier and healthier environment for you and those around you to enjoy :)


Want to learn boxing? Now you can for FREE

As you guys know, I lurve boxing! Boxers are arguable the fittest sports-people in the world. You don’t have to want to ‘fight’ to train in this way.

THPT’s Boxing expert believes: ‘When you train like a champion, you look and feel like one‘ For those of you that don’t know Paul, he is one of our THPT trainers currently based in Asia. (Check out his biog on our Trainer page) He recently returned from a month long training trip in Cuba where he sparred daily and trained alongside the Mozambique National Squad as they prepared for the all African games. (Well done Mozambique medal winners – next step Olympic games in London 2012! ) You can now have Paul train you for FREE anywhere in the world….

Check out his fantastic new App:

Boxing Boot Camp in Cuba - next stop Olympics 2012!

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