Thursday, August 30, 2007
Whenever my kids walk out some store holding their drinks or icecream, or whatever, sans plastic bag, I feel a sense of pride. I've taught them to abhor plastic bags and they can recite (with eyes rolled up to their hairlines) "plastics don't biodegrade, plastics are carcinogenic and we have to think of the next generation."
I feel so guilty everytime I shop. One shopping trip will garner at least 5 or 6 plastic bags. That's just one trip, one person. The worst are bakeries, who put one item in one bag, then bag all of them again. I tried using green bags but they don't carry big items and wet market items so well. Recently I've taken to using a rattan basket, like how my mom and her generation did. I hope to convince people to cut down on their use of plastic bags, for their own good and that of their children. And everybody's.
It is more troublesome to go green. Sometimes I forget the basket just as I'm paying and go back to the car to get it and I know what the people are thinking: she's crazy. But many times they agree with me that it's better to use a basket and really, you can put all the shopping in one basket that normally requires 5 bags (one for meat, one for non-food items and so on) and it's much easier to unpack. And you don't get a whiff of the plastic bags that you get when you fold them away. Have you noticed that some plastic bags, the thicker ones, smell really strongly of plastics? Avoid them like you'd loan sharks.
At home, cut down on clingfilm. It's more troublesome but I store leftovers in ceramic bowls and cover with a plastic plate which is not as reactive as the wrap/clingflim. If I do use the wrap, I make sure it doesn't touch the food. Avoid styrofoam food containers and cups, and never take away hot food in plastic bags. Studies have shown that PVC toys and baby bottles contain high levels of cancer-causing plastic softeners called phthalates. At the least, phthalates can disrupt your babies' hormonal production upsetting their physical development, including their sex organs (explains the declining fertility rate)*, or in the longer run cause fatal diseases. A good book(let) to read is this, published by the CAP and available at Popular bookstores:
Yes, I am an unofficial consumer's advocate. The book that first frightened and prompted me was one I read as a freshie, a book called 'The Silent Spring' by Rachel Carson. The one point I still remember was her claim that everything we eat has pesticides (DDT I think), including mother's milk. I was shocked because I was so ignorant. And that book was written maybe in the 60s, way before Al Gore and all the green people. Has the world learnt from Carson? I don't think so.
Let's do our part, friends!
*According to CAP's booklet, Britain's Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF) did a study and found that many brands of baby food contain phthalates. It was estimated that a newborn would receive on average 0.13 mg/kg body-weight per day of phthalates. One phthalate, BBP, can reduce sperm production and testes size at levels of 0.1 mg/kg. Ouch. And baby feeding bottles have Bisphenol-A which can leach out and again cause abnormal prostate development, lower sperm count, early onset of puberty in females etc etc. You get the point.