one green planet
one green planet
BPA: Yet Another Reason To Go Green

There are a hundred and one reasons to go green. They have been looped through the Internet and blogosphere like unstoppable memes, creating a critical mass of new ideologies and life sciences. All across the world, individuals, government agencies, and eco-conscious companies are working to make human civilization a safer, cleaner, more sustainably run ecosystem. In other words, trying to create an ecosystem that doesn’t throw all the other ecosystems into disharmony. A huge part of this zeitgeist is the “green” movement. Despite the fact that the green label has frequently been exploited by green-washing marketers and hypocritical, double-speaking politicians, the green movement is still a powerful and important development.

However, it’s just as important to remember that going green isn’t just about supporting alternative energy and recycling, it’s not just about installing green roofing like Duro Last, and driving a hybrid or electric vehicle. All these things are important and are wonderful, critical life decisions of course. But going green is also about supporting industries and companies that produce safe products and calling out companies and industries that spread dangerous synthetic chemicals. The abundance of artificial chemicals and synthetic bio-engineered substances in our foods not only contributes to environmental toxins and emissions, but it causes devastatingly poor health in our own bodies. Going green, therefore, is also very much about eating and living healthy. Healthy humans will see the need for a healthy environment and healthy natural habitats.

More and more studies are showing that modern chemicals used for agriculture, livestock, and even water bottles may have drastic health effects on the people who consume them. Scientists are now telling us that even tiny amounts of these chemicals can throw our bodies out of balance and cause them to produce too much insulin. These chemicals, especially bisphenol A, or BPA, can badly damage our endocrine system as well as other critical bodily systems.

BPA, which causes the body to produce twice the amount of insulin that is needed in order to break down foods, has recently been linked to obesity and Type 2 diabetes. Found in everything from plastics to food can linings to canned foods to diapers, to home electronics, and even dental fillings, BPA has been shown to produce neurotoxicity and even carcinogenic effects in lab rats. 90% of Americans are estimated to have BPA in their bloodstream, and pregnant women and fetuses are thought to be the most sensitive to the effects of it.

The chemical industry disagrees, claiming that 50 years of a safety track record proves that BPA is not a danger. But let’s remember that for years, even decades, after smoking was shown to produce heart disease and cancer, the tobacco industry still maintained that smoking cigarettes was a healthy, beneficial activity. Big business is usually reluctant to scrap substances and products that generate major revenue, and this trend is unlikely to change. Intrepid individuals must take on the challenge of spreading the word.

Fortunately, many companies are sensing the societal sea change in regards to synthetic chemicals and are offering BPA alternatives. Toys R’ Us, Patagonia, Whole Foods, and Wal-Mart have all ‘cleaned house’, eliminating most inventory with BPA.

There are also an increasing number of ways that the average consumer can avoid BPA during their daily activities. Try metal water bottles instead of polycarbonate plastic. Or you can look into Eastman Chemical Company’s BPA-free substitute known as “Tritan”. The popular Camelbak, made from Tritan Copolyesther, is also BPA-free.

However, water bottles aren’t the only products that contain BPA. In fact, as was suggested above, BPA is found in baby bottles, sippy cups, food containers, canned foods and many other everyday products. And that’s just BPA, which is far from the only chemical out there that could harm you. There’s also triclosan, perfluoroalkyl acids and salts, phthalates, nonylphenol, and polybrominated flame retardants, which can be found in mattresses, cookware, and thousands of consumer products. The concerned consumer has a responsibility to himself and his family and community to begin taking action. Make a list of these chemicals (there are dozens more) and all the different products that contain them. There are lists online, where people have already done much of this work.

The challenge now is to get the word out. Use social media, create Twitter memes, create a Facebook page called “The Truth About BPA”, share articles about the newest research with your friends. Most people don’t know about the dangers of these chemicals, or think that the fears concerning them are greatly overblown. Let your fellow humans know that there is yet another reason to go green.

Fran Constigan -- Contributor, One Green PlanetJenna Smith is a college student in the heart of the Midwest, Saint Louis! She believes that “going green” isn’t a phase, fad, or trend. Instead it is something to invest yourselves in because the more people who are truly green instead of those “going green” the world will be a better place. When Jenna isn’t writing or studying you can find her near the Saint Louis Arch or Forrest Park.

Image Source: Brandon Fick/Flickr