Do you often find yourself wanting to recycle or reduce your plastic use, but don’t know where to start? Us too! If you find anything on it, let us know. J Just kidding… But in all seriousness, what is plastic anyways? Well, according to: thoughtco.com “Plastic is any synthetic or semisynthetic organic polymer”. What does that even mean? It means that plastic can be malleable and change shape. But no every plastic is the same, which means that they don’t decompose the same way and that is why the process for recycling them may vary.
Let’s break into the basics shall we? Have you ever noticed that all plastic objects have a number? Well, this is to let us know which type of plastic companies have used to make that product. There are 7, yes that’s SEVEN types of plastic and we are about to tell you ALL about them, including which ones you should avoid at all cost because, well, they cause the most damage:
(you may know it as PET or PETE): You’ve probably seen this one the most since its commonly used in the food industry, thanks to its ability to keep air from entering the packaging and spoiling what’s inside, or in the case of carbonated beverages keeps the carbon dioxide (what makes it gassy) from getting out. PET can cause antimony trioxide – considered a carcinogen meaning that it can cause cancer on living tissue, aka: your whole body filled with cells, which is why you should never drink water form a bottle left in the car since its activated by heat.
Made with recycled PET
High Density Polyethylene (HDPE)
Thanks to its unbranched polymer chains, it makes it stronger than PET and quite special, this is why this is the one used for grocery bags (not that you know what those are since you’ve been bringing your own bags to the supermarket for a long time, right?). It’s also the one used for thicker food containers like milk or juice, and for products like shampoo bottles. HDPE is recyclable and a tad more stable than PET, but if exposed to ultraviolet lights, can release an estrogen-mimicking additive that could mess with humans’ hormones, and I don’t know about you (girls), but my hormones are already crazy as they are.
Made with recycled HDPE
Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)
The turn is for toys, detergents and wraps. Did you know that PVC or vinyl, used to be the second most used resin in the world? But thanks to people like you and us, it was officially declared the cause of serious health risks and environmental pollution issues. It has the highest toxicity level and this is why it’s considered the most hazardous plastic, and the reason why most plastic products say they are BPA (bisphenol A) free. It has more than 5 different chemicals that are linked to cancer and allergies, especially in children (did you read the part where its commonly used on toys? exactly). Hardly accepted by recycling programs, we strongly recommend avoiding its use completely. Let’s say that again just in case, please avoid at all costs.
Made with recycled PVC
Low Density Polyethylene (LDPE)
Thanks to its chemical structure, LDPE its cheap to process, its commonly used for plastic bags (bread, frozen foods, newspaper…) or squeezable bottles like sauces. Even with studies that this type also harms our hormonal system, it showed to have the lowest impact, making it the better choice for packaging, ironically, it’s very hard to recycle.
Made with recycled LDPE
Our next contender is a stiff type normally found in hot food containers thanks to its heat resistance. Car parts and disposable diapers also make it to the list. Just as LDPE, PP is considered to be in the “safest” list of plastics to use, remember safest doesn’t mean safe, it is only a less harming choice, since it, could cause asthma and it is very difficult to recycle as well.
Made with recycled PP
You may know it by its stage name, Styrofoam! Our food delivery favorite and most dangerous choice for this, since when exposed to hot or oily foods, might leach Styrene, which, according to Britannica.com its “toxic to the nervous system if ingested or inhaled, and contact with the skin and eyes can cause irritation”. To top it all, it has a low recycling rate.
Made with recycled PS
Recycled PC ( BPA)
Our final type is actually a few of them combined, remaining types of plastic still unidentified or layered and mixed with other types, like bioplastics. Its frequently Polycarbonate or PC, which is not used as much these days and thanks to its association with BPA, (known for being used on baby bottles, sippy cups, water bottles and water gallons) its only normal that it was banned from baby bottles and formula packaging, and yes, we are still waiting for it to be banned completely, because it doesn’t make sense to use it in anything else anyways.
Made with recycled PC ( BPA)
So, there you have it! We hope you enjoyed our lesson on plastics and why you shouldn’t use any of them. But really, try to use the least amount possible ( unless they are recycled), and join us and TIDE. Earth in our quest to make plastic waste useful, and why not, beautiful. Did we mention we partnered with this organization to create our jewelry line because they collect plastic waste from oceans and treat them so we can turn them into the center of our pieces? The types of plastic processed by TIDE are: Polyethylene Terephthalate plastics (PET), Polypropylene (PP) and Polyethylene (PE).
Have fun checking for the number in every plastic object you find!