The Curse of Plastics and Chemicals

Infertility in our Midst

Recently I read a very alarming article about infertility and the low sperm count for men. And it looks as if plastic is to blame because of the BPA in it’s makeup. Infertility in men is apparently a lot lower than normal, it has been happening since the turn of the 20th century when plastic and the oil industry began.

As a result, we have been ingesting particles of BPA in food containers. Water bottles cutlery and plastic drink straws are also culprits of the infertility problem. And so, the functions of estrogen and  progesterone have been seriously disrupted.

BPA and Phthalates the endocrine disruptors

“BPA and Phthalates coat our pills and nutritional supplements, they’re used in gelling agents, lubricants, binders, emulsifying agents, and suspending agents”. Medical devices, detergents and packaging, paint and modelling clay, pharmaceuticals and textiles,sex toys and nail polish, liquid soap and hair spray also have some.

These chemicals are also used in tubing that processes food, so you’ll find them in milk, yogurt, sauces, soups, and even, in small amounts, in eggs, fruits, vegetables, pasta, noodles, rice, and water. The CDC determined that just about everyone in the United States has measurable levels of phthalates in his or her body—they’re unavoidable.”

But, we can take a few small steps to help ourselves, if we choose to change 5 items.

  1.  Use glass, foil or metal food containers
  2.  Put our groceries in cloth shopping bags
  3. Drink from paper straws
  4. Water bottles are also available in glass and steel
  5. Revert back to paper food packaging

Cotton and Linen

Cottons and Linens are as old as the hills and are rapidly becoming fashionable again. They’ll always look fresh and glamorous. So that we can eventually cast away our clothes made with microfibers.

BPA and a Safer Sustitute 

Well, we’ve all read that BPA is no longer used in plastic and we have a safer substitute. Now there are rumblings that in fact the safer one might be even more dangerous to us. ” BPA-free plastics can also leak the same hormone disrupting chemicals as BPA-containing plastics”… according to a study published in Current Biology.

Is PET Safer?

PET, which stands for polyethylene terephthalate, is a form of polyester (just like the clothing fabric). It is extruded or moulded into plastic bottles and containers for water bottles and other containers.

“Water bottles made from PET plastic leach compounds that mimic the hormone oestrogen raising questions about their safety, say German researchers”.  But new evidence suggests that PET, or polyethylene terephthalate, may not be so benign after all. Scientists at Goethe University in Frankfurt found that estrogenic compounds leach from the plastic into the water. Admittedly this research was carried out in 2009…how much weight does it have today?

5 ways  we can ditch plastic.

  1. There are so many glass containers on the market for us to buy instead of plastic.
  2. We can use paper lunch bags
  3. Instead of plastic straws, use paper straws they’re healthier.
  4. Cardboard and paper packaging are also being introduced.
  5. Cloth shopping bags without the nasty microfibers.

Sceptics are Scared

There is little question that sperm counts are dropping. However, David Mortimer whose company designs and establishes laboritories for assisted conception questioned the measuring of sperm count. He stating that the old studies were very unreliable.

But now he’s embraced some of the direst predictions of scientists like Hagai Levine. These men have conducted further studies after 1995 and found the sperm count had declined even further. “The epigenetics are the scary bit,” he told me, “because what we’re doing now affects the future of the human race.”

Light at the End of the Tunnel?

We certainly have hope in our young people who are now working on ways to get rid of the plastic. We humans have carelessly discarded tons of plastic rubbish which has entered our seas also killing sea life. I for one, feel  encouraged by a huge wave of concerned people. They are doing their utmost to educate ordinary folks about the dangers of plastic.

Manufacturing companies can find an alternative to plastic. They must be made aware of the dangers to the continuation of the human species. How long that will take is anybody’s guess. Our young generation have the ability to turn those factories around and find those safer alternatives.

A Diving holiday That Led To A Shocking Discovery

When Boyan Slat was a 16 year old student he was in Greece enjoying underwater swimming. When he saw, “more bags than fish”, he was horrified. Returning home he set about researching, reading and googling the subject to educate himself about this serious problem.

He and a friend entered a school science competition. Their idea was to put a long barrier in the sea to catch big bits of plastic. Not surprisingly they won that competition. Boyan decided to quit university where he was studying for a degree in aerospace engineering. He continued his research on getting rid of plastic waste in the sea. As a result his wonderful innovative plan “The Ocean Cleanup” was born.

Great Pacific Garbage Patch

The ocean cleanup is a non-profit organisation. Large companies have enough confidence and belief in such a huge undertaking, that they’ve agreed to help finance it.

A cleanup efficiency of 42% of all plastic within the North Pacific gyre can be achieved in ten years using a 100 km Array.  Experts determined that this Array could be made and installed using current materials and technologies. Estimated costs are €317 million in total. €31.7 million per year when depreciated over ten years. This translates to €4.53 per kilogram of collected ocean debris. The ocean garbage patches are vast and dispersed in 5 areas. They settle in these subtropical gyres.

Challenge of cleanup 

There was good news however, in computer technology simulation. It has shown that floating barriers are suitable to capture and concentrate floating plastic debris.The plastic pollution spreads across millions of square kilometers and travels in all directions. Boyan Slat’s plan will alleviate thousands of years plus billions of dollars using vessels and nets to cover this area. Combined with ocean current models it’s possible to work out just how much plastic would encounter the structure.

The Ocean Cleanup successfully launched its ocean plastic cleanup system. On Saturday, Sept. 8 from Alameda, California, it is now on its way to clean up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

60 Years of Plastic Waste

Boyan and his team of other young and older people have accomplished a great deal to remove plastic from the ocean.

We have to be in awe of what this young man and his colleagues are doing. The big companies who have funded all this brilliant work for our planet must be applauded too.

Looking on the bright side, we all know we can stop this mindless littering of our planet.  And hopefully we’ll all get in the healthy habit of using alternatives to plastic.They are there for us to choose.

“I am incredibly grateful for the tremendous amount of support we have received over the past few years from people around the world, that has allowed us to develop, test, and launch a system with the potential to begin to mitigate an this ecological disaster. This makes me confident that, if we manage to make the technology work, the cleanup will happen.”, says Boyan Slat, CEO and founder.