Monday, 6 June 2016

Take care of your waste and your health in one go

Two weeks ago, a Swedish journalist from Dagens Nyheter interviewed me about my (almost) zero waste lifestyle. I told her that there were a number of convenience items we can all do without very easily - kitchen towels, cling film and foil, for example. "But I use foil every time I have barbecue", she replied. "Well, the thing is that aluminium foil shouldn't be used to wrap up hot food. It's been proved that aluminium leaches into the food and that's not good for your health", I informed her. 

You see, I don't go about lecturing people about what they should eat or not eat, nor how they should eat their food. However, if I know something that they don't and that information is crucial to their health, I will let them know. I am not a doctor, I am not a scientist but it's a fact that industrial chemicals are interfering with our bodies and causing a lot of harm. As a journalist, I feel it's my moral duty to inform people about such things. And point them in the direction of well-informed articles on the subject. 

Take bisphenol A (BPA), a widely used chemical. You find it in plastic, food can lining and also till receipts. It's an endocrine disruptor. It's been linked to a vast array of serious illnesses and life-limiting health conditions - cancer, asthma, obesity, cardiovascular risks, infertility etc. The European Union has banned the production of baby bottles containing BPA in March 2011. Since January 2015 BPA is banned from all food containers in France. (Questions remain regarding the industrial chemicals used to replace BPA in those products, though.)

BPA is not the only culprit. Phthalates are also suspected to be an endocrine disruptor. They are a group of chemicals used to soften and increase the flexibility of plastic and vinyl. They are used in food packaging, cosmetics, personal care products etc. 

The combined effect of those endocrine disruptors and other chemical components can be extremely potent. It's called the cocktail effect (l'effet cocktail, en français). "Significant effects can occur even when organisms are exposed at levels below their individual effects concentration", the Chem Trust informs us. In other words, small quantities of chemical components can be innocuous by themselves but very harmful when they interact with other of chemical components.


Hence, the attraction of a zero waste lifestyle - for me and lots of people. 

Less plastic and more natural products in your day-to-day life 
= a reduced exposure to all those health hazards 
= a healthier life

We cannot completely control our environment. That doesn't mean we cannot control it at all. Take it from someone who has been struggling with infertility for more than three years. I don't know what impact those endocrine disruptors have had - if at all - on my inability to conceive so far. Likewise, I have no guarantee that I will become pregnant if I keep limiting my exposure to BPA, phthalates, pesticides etc. However, I know that my general health will improve. That, in itself, is important if I want to make the most of my life - independently from my family circumstances.


Buying loose organic vegetables enables you to avoid exposure
to both pesticides and plastic packaging. 


If you want to find out more about the impact of endocrine disruptors on our health:
- check out Breast Cancer UK: you will find a lot of information there about the links between harmful chemicals and breast cancer; check out their #DitchTheJunk campaign
-visit the Chem Trust website and read their blog (Obesity and diabetes - a chemical link?, for example)
-visit the Environmental Working Group, a non-for-profit American organisation dedicated to protecting human health and the environment