Is BPA-Free Plastic a Hoax? How Can We Do Better?
Bisphenol is a harmful chemical. So BPA-free should be a good thing. Or not?
When I started educating myself about the environment, sustainability and healthy choices, I was shocked. I never realized we have so many toxic materials all around us, harming the environment and our health. Toxic paints, cleaning products, cosmetics, and plastic packaging are all part of our daily lives. Flame retardants are gassing out from our furniture and matrasses, we are even polluting our indoor air with air fresheners. Wow! The problem with educating yourself is that if you know, you have to act. Knowledge = responsibility. Ai… That makes life complicated. And at that moment in my life, I just wanted to have more joy, more lightness, more letting go in my life.
The simple life
Luckily, I discovered that complex, holistic sustainability has another side to the coin: simplifying your life. So while my studies involved systemic thinking, handling complexity and finding the connections between parts in order to find solutions for a healthy and happy future, my daily life became simpler. Much simpler. Less stuff, healthy and good stuff, lots of positivity and money spent on experience and personal development.
“The other side of the coin is simplifying your life”
In this context, I started looking for a new water bottle and came across the term BPA-free. BPA is short for Bisphenol-A, a common building block in resins and some types of plastics. BPA is also known to be an endocrine-disrupting compound, which means it interferes with the hormones in our bodies. It can be harmful in very small quantities. However, it can take years for symptoms to show up. Endocrine-disrupting chemicals can be found in common products like canned food, perfume, plastic food containers, cosmetics, and furniture. They get into our bodies through food, water, and dust, directly through our skin, from hand to mouth contact, and from the air we breathe. These hormone-disrupting chemicals are so widely used, we are constantly exposed. And they can harm our health even at very low levels.
So I applaud BPA-free plastic water bottles. Glad BPA is not leaking into my drinking water… I wish life would be so simple. But sadly it isn’t. Because there is more to study, more to know. And the deeper I get, the more shocked I become. In our sick world, some producers put BPA-free on the label and then turn around and use Bisphenol-S or Bisphenol-F as an alternative. Which are just as harmful to our hormone systems.
Stop the lobby
Come on, plastic product producers, this is greenwashing! This is playing with the health of your customers, just for the money! And what about the governments that allow it? Please stop the lobby for companies that harm our health with one goal in mind: keeping shareholders happy. And please, fellow marketing professionals, use your head and heart and start from the truth about products. We need products for their functionality, so start there and package these features in such a way that people recognize their value. Honesty and true value count for something. And they give you loyal customers…
Okay, that’s my anger and frustration lashing out. But if you know me, I always want to find positive solutions. This case is no different. So what can we do? Consumers can educate themselves and choose different materials: glass, porcelain or stainless steel. Don’t give your money to companies that don’t deserve it.
Producers should stop beating around the bush and take more values into account than just money. The health of your customers being number 1. Show you have a heart and take part in the transition. Maybe you can transition your business model along the way and combine all values in a synergy business model that creates abundance for the planet, people and prosperity.
Governments can even do more. They can make laws for clusters of harmful chemicals. In this case, all bisphenols should be prohibited when BPA shows such harm to hormone systems. The Six Classes Approach by the Green Science Policy Institute makes a case for 6 clusters of harmful ingredients:
- PFAS, the forever chemicals
- Flame retardants
- Bisphenols and phthalates
- Some solvents
- Certain metals, such as mercury, arsenic, cadmium, and lead
We can definitely reduce chemical harm this way and make healthier products for healthier people. So please, the time for greenwashing is over. It’s time for transition. We can do better!