Is plastic harming your health?

Posted in Physical Health
on March 11, 2018

Plastic has become my new enemy no.1. Like, even before I watched Blue Planet II.

In case you aren’t aware of the extent of our issue with plastic, however, here are some not-so-fun facts for ya. Share the crap out of them.

Facts about damage caused to our ocean and wildlife by plastic we dispose of


Apparently, plastic has been found in the flesh of fish which are eaten by humans. So there’s that interesting little addition to our food chain.

Also, remember in Blue Planet II where there was that mum whale, and the baby whale died basically because of contaminated milk? Like, if you don’t feel that right in the pit of your stomach, I don’t even know….


But, on top of that, plastic we use every day can have a pretty nasty toxic effect on our bodies.




Did you want oestrogen with that?

Plastic can release chemicals which mimic the sex hormone oestrogen. These chemicals are sometimes called xenoestrogens – chemicals which are synthetic but mimic the activity of naturally-produced oestrogen.


So what, right?


The combined contraceptive pill is a xenoestrogen, and that is, debatably, safe to use.

When naturally-produced oestrogen circulates the body, it binds to oestrogen receptors in organs and tissues, and triggers specific effects. That is the normal functioning of the human body. Not something you want to mess with. Hormones, in general, are not.




BPA and your health

One of these xenoestrogens is BPA.

BPA is a chemical compound used to make plastic items like cosmetic containers, food and drink packaging, and medical devices.


Chemicals like BPA can be absorbed by the body. 93% of Americans aged 6+ test positive for BPA.

BPA is released as plastic deteriorates over time, especially when exposed to extreme temperatures. Even though the amount released is low, the exposure is so frequent.


The amounts that leach into food are thought to be safe; and new research suggests that it may not be harmful to us. However, some research links BPA with a whole host of health issues.

We’re talking neuro-behavioural issues like ADHD and autism, type 2 diabetes, and increase in hormonally-mediated cancers like breast cancer.


It’s thought that the effects of BPA exposure are most pronounced during periods of growth e.g. childhood or in utero.


Some research has even found that, in the male offspring of mice fed these chemicals during pregnancy, sperm production is reduced and less efficient.

AND more sperm talk – these chemicals have also been found in the seminal fluid of infertile men.




Is this a big problem?

This isn’t just about BPA, though. These oestrogen-mimicking chemicals have been found in plastic which does not contain BPA.

Also, BPA-free plastics may contain substitute chemicals, the effects of which are unclear.


In one study, 70% of 450 store-bought plastic items designed for contact with food, released chemicals which acted like oestrogen.

That was before they were exposed to things like washing, sunlight, and microwaving. After this, more than 95% produced the chemicals.

Even with BPA-free plastic, the effect remained. Unfortunately, the test didn’t show which chemicals were to blame.

For the sake of balance, it’s important to note that a lot of studies on this have been conducted with rats and mice and, although the results can be transferable, we’re not rats.




Fewer chemicals for me, thanks

Weighing up the evidence, I’ve decided to challenge myself to reduce my use of plastic, for my own health and the health of the planet.

You may have seen that I tweeted asking for plastic-free cosmetic recommendations – still looking btw! So, if you know any such products, or you’re a brand with plastic-free packaging – I want to know!

Is plastic bad for your health?


Want to join in? Spend just an hour looking at all the plastic you use every day – list it, if it helps. Then, think of ways to eliminate it.


Some ideas:

Use cloth instead of plastic bags. Get some cool, personalised ones like these from Etsy.

How can we reduce our plastic usage?

From Makesbymoi

Get a reusable cup and bottle made from something other than plastic. There’s a ton on Amazon, I really like the ECoffee cups in loads of pretty prints.

A non-plastic reusable cup is a great way to reduce your plastic usage

Refuse straws and plastic cutlery – buy your own reusable ones to take out with you. This bamboo set has everything you would need.

Reusable cutlery is a great way to reduce your plastic usage

Store food in boxes instead of bags



After you’ve eliminated, look at reusing stuff you can’t get rid of.


Can you upcycle packaging into storage for food or makeup?

If you’re capable of keeping plants alive, unlike me, you could use plastic bottles as planters.

Take a look at this site for some more creative ideas – I really like the vertical garden!

How to reuse plastic cutlery


Then, of course, if you can’t eliminate or reuse, then at least recycle!


What are your thoughts on this? Have you ever heard of xenoestrogens before? Do you have any ideas on how we can all reduce our plastic usage? Please leave them below and we can all make improvements.

Is plastic harming your health? The lowdown on hormone-mimicking chemicals AND tips for reducing your plastic usage

#Smearforsmear cervical cancer prevention week


  • Beatrice N

    This is such a good and important post! I definitely don’t pay nearly enough attention to my plastic usage. One thing I have done, though, is switch to these bamboo toothbrushes. They’ve worked superbly and hold up surprisingly well! They come in a set of 4 to last you for a year. I’m really interested to hear if you are able to find cosmetics that fit your criteria. It’s a tall order, but it would be INCREDIBLE if such makeup existed! Thank you for writing this as a reminder that we need to take better care of our planet <3

    Beatrice | The Bliss Bean

    March 11, 2018 at 16:55 Reply
    • North

      Thank you so much for reading this and commenting, I’m glad you found it useful. It’s just something I’ve started learning about and I’ve been so shocked by how much damage can be done. I’m definitely trying to go more natural, so those toothbrushes sound great! Definitely spread the word about that.
      I will be shouting it from the rooftops if I find a brand that meets all those criteria – so you’ll definitely hear about it!! xx

      March 12, 2018 at 00:50 Reply
  • perfectlyclaudia

    Some of this info is just insane when you stop to think about it! I now eat SO much fish, and it makes me feel a little ill to wonder how much ‘plastic’ I’m now eating.

    I swapped from plastic to a metal water bottle almost a year ago after some women claimed plastic bottles significantly aided in their obtaining breast cancer.

    I do store things in plastic Tupperware (just as I have so much of it and it’s convenient), but I will need to remember NOT to heat food up still inside said tubs. What happened to the good old days when Chinese restaurants gave us cardboard tubs?! I miss those.

    Claudia xo

    March 16, 2018 at 07:37 Reply
    • North

      I know, I’m trying not to let it freak me out too much! It’s all well and good saying everyone should just cut out plastic and eat 100% plant-based but that’s just so unrealistic for so many people, myself included at the moment!

      Literally that swap from plastic to metal water bottle probably makes a big difference, that’s definitely where I think a lot of it comes from in my life, when I think about how much my old plastic water bottle was left in the sun/dishwashered/frozen, it’s bound to do some damage. So good for you for that one!

      Right? Cardboard food containers are great, I love it when you get street food in them. I know they’re not re-usable but at least they’re recyclable and biodegradable!

      Thank you for having a read and commenting m’love, always appreciated 🙂 xx

      March 17, 2018 at 03:26 Reply
  • Merkitty

    This is a really informative post. All I could help but think was that so much of anything I buy is wrapped in plastic. Let me know if you do find any makeup brands akin to what you tweeted out after. I wish I had an answer, but I don’t.. every brand I thought of I then realised came wrapped in plastic. Not what you’re after! I guess if we can be more aware of our plastic usage then that’s a good thing.. make smarter choices. Brilliant post.

    March 16, 2018 at 16:46 Reply
    • North

      I know it’s crazy when you think about it. I could pick up anything in any room of my house and there’s a good chance it’ll be made of, or wrapped in plastic! So far, no luck in finding any cosmetics like that. I’ve found some similar in New Zealand but have yet to try it, and they don’t ship internationally so no good to you I’m afraid! I’ve got some Korean skincare coming my way soon and I’m hoping it’ll at least have non-plastic packaging but we’ll see!
      Thank you again for reading, I’m so glad you found it informative!

      March 17, 2018 at 03:21 Reply

    Leave a Reply

    You may also like