Final day of my week without disposable plastic. The feelings were mixed, both relieved and concerned. Relieved because I could return to “normal” life, concerned because my “normal” life was hurting the planet earth and myself so badly.
Day 7: It’s weekend and I went window shopping after work. The quintessentially kawaii (adorable in Japanese) stationery and knick-knacks in a novelty store had me walking right into the store. Neither forgetting nor ditching my campaign, I walked out with my purse untouched, because the merchandise were packed in plastic wrappers.
Post-campaign days: are the health benefits of a breakfast of purple rice ball filled with steamed vegetables and beans coupled with a cup of purple rice almond milk outweighed by the health hazards of the all-plastic packing? I have stopped calling it environmental impact because I think ultimately it’s humans’ health that’s going to suffer.
For instance, a plastic wrapper ends up in a landfill or the ocean as rubbish, crops grown within the vicinity may absorb any substance separated from the plastic and seeped through the soil via underground water or other medium; or large fishes may swallow torn bits of the plastic that will not kill them but may end up on somebody’s dinner plate as intoxicated fish meat.
On another occasion, I spotted something that might slip through my eyes in the past. Look at the photo below and something very scary has been lurking. Beside the edible parts, what is the only material that dominates the photo?
Some of us do make an effort to reuse certain disposable plastic ware, such as the most commonly used round-shaped food container. However, as suggested by its name, it is not advisable to reuse too many times what’s meant for one-time use, at least not for keeping food again, especially those that are already rough to the touch or out of shape, or have been used to contain oily/ fatty food at high temperatures, like hot soup and curry, or highly acidic food.
Oil-soluble plasticisers added to plastic containers and packaging can leach out of the plastic after coming into contact with greasy food or hot food, said a friend who is a food technology professional, and a pretty one!
Polyvinyl chloride (PVC/ V), whose resin identification code is 3, is commonly used to produce food packing materials like juice bottles and cling wraps, gaskets in metal lids/ caps, blood storage bags, etc. It contains plasticisers that give it its flexibility. Whether migration of plasticisers into food will cause any material impact to our health or not is debatable. Nonetheless, no one is happy to consume chemicals and it is almost certainly harmful when the amount and the frequency of intake are high.
The ubiquitous round shaped transparent food containers used in Singapore for take-away are mostly of the resin identification code of 5. It is alright to use it for its immediate intended purpose but it is not designed for extended use or reuse. Here comes the problem – it turns into a rubbish real quick. I have every reason to believe my gut feeling that, at least one disposable plastic container (for whatever purpose) is being disposed of every second, somewhere in the world.