BPA- its hiding in plain sight and impacting on our health.

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BPA. Its in in most of the products we use on a daily basis, its toxic, and to top it off it also in our food.
Im guessing that most people have heard of BPA- your drinks bottles may make special mention of being BPA free, or those baby bottles might assure us that there is nothing toxic in their bottles because there is no BPA in their products. But is that the whole story?

What is BPA?
BPA is short for Bisphenol A. BPA is a chemical found in hard plastic such as drink bottles, the plastic lining in tined canned, dental devices, baby bottles, DVDs and CDs, electronic equipment, sporting goods, and even the ink on store receipts. The problem is that BPA become ingested into our system when the food we eat comes into contact with it through food storage or after we have touched items with BPA such as ink.

BPA is an endocrine disruptor – a substance which interferes with the production, secretion, transport, action, function and elimination of natural hormones. BPA can imitate our body’s own hormones in a way that could be hazardous for health. Babies and young children are said to be especially sensitive to the effects of BPA.

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This can impact on our bodies in many ways such as:
reproductive disorders and infertility issues
Asthma
Sexual dysfunction
Higher risk of cancer
Type 2 Diabetes
Brain function

with babies being particularly susceptible particularly from breastfeeding mothers.

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However its important to note that even BPA-free is not completely safe. Often when they remove the BPA they replace it with another chemical which can be just as harmful such as
bisphenol-S (BPS) or bisphenol-F (BPF) with some evidence to suggest that even small concentrations of BPS and BPF may disrupt the function of your cells in a way similar to BPA.

So can any plastic be trusted? Im inclined to say no, and would even avoid BPA free due to the undisclosed other chemicals that may be found. To be honest until we go package free, its hard to avoid plastics, particularly when everything is over packaged!.. some things i have done to avoid BPA is use glass containers to store food, carry fruit and vegetable in heshan bags and avoid plastic bag, avoid heat any food in plastic containers. I have also swapped by plastic BPA free drinking bottle for a stainless steel bottle from Klean Kanteen.
As the father of a 8 week old baby, i became concerned about the BPA i was passing onto my little one, and hence have I have also bought some glass baby bottles to swap out his BPA free plastic ones, and have bought him natural rubber dummies to prevent usage of the plastic ones.

Some other things we can do is:

Avoid packaged foods: Eat mostly fresh, whole foods.
Drink from glass bottles: Avoid plastic bottles or cans
Stay away from BPA products: As much as possible, limit your contact with receipts.
Be selective with toys: Make sure that plastic toys you buy for your child are made from BPA-free material, especially for toys your little ones are likely to chew or suck on.
Don’t microwave plastic: Microwave and store food in glass rather than plastic.

For tips on how to be plastic free, visit http://www.myplasticfreelife.com

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Palm Oil: Its in most things we eat and why we should avoid it.

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So Palm Oil…. some of you may have heard all the issues related to palm oil, and other may not. Lets have a look at whats its all about. Essentially palm oil is a very prized ingredient in loads of products, from chocolates to shampoos. With the demand on the rise and production set to double forests are being cleared and replaced by palm plantations (another example of monoculture).

So whats wrong with Palm oil?
The main issue of palm oil is the land required to cultivate it. Palm oil has been linked to huge amounts of deforestation which leads to land degradation, and loss of habitat for many species and a reduction in biodiversity. It was estimated that due to Palm oil 1/3 of all mammals are now critically endangered in Indonesia. The clearing of the rainforests which are considered biodiversity hotspots leads to the displacement of many endemic species with the highly publicised victims of this habitat destruction being orang-utans and the sumatran tiger.
The loss of rainforest also contributes to climate change as well as the process of clearing which involves burning the land lead to greenhouse gas emissions (Indonesia being the 3rd largest contributor to greenhouse gases)

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So where is this happening?
this is mainly occurring in south east Asia, particularly in Malaysia and Indonesia, although production does occur in Africa and South America.

Why is Palm Oil so popular?
Palm oil is versatile ingredient and used in a wide array of products: chocolate, ice cream, pizza, cosmetics, soap, margarine to name a few. In the UK palm oil is required to be named on the ingredients label of any product, however in many countries palm oil is described as vegetable oil, ands it has been estimated that in 1/3 of all vegetable oil is palm oil. The borneo Orang-utan survival website advises on palm oil in Australian and New Zealand products:

Food Standards Australia and New Zealand allows palm oil to be labelled simply as “vegetable oil” and indeed its presence can be even less visible as many of the more minor components of a product – colourings, flavourings, emulsifiers and humectants – are commonly palm oil derived. A quick test – if the saturated fat content is around 50% the likelihood of the vegetable oil being palm is high.
In cosmetics, palm oil is labelled Elaeis guineensis but as with the food industry, its presence is often less obvious. Any ingredient which includes the word “palm” (palmitate, palmitoyl or simply palm) will include palm oil. Other ingredients which commonly but not always use palm oil include cetyl alcohol, isopropyl, sodium lauryl sulphate, steareths, fatty alcohol sulphates, glycerine, cocoa butter equivalent and cocoa butter substitute.

So what can be done?

Well essentially when we make choices we have three choices:
Choose not to change our patterns of product choose which will inadvertently lead to products that include palm oil.
Choose products that use sustainable palm oil. Look for CSPO (certified sustainable palm oil) as well as organisations signing up to the RSPO with the aim of producing sustainable Palm oil. However it must be noted that there is heavy criticism of the RSPO as many feel it does not do enough to prevent deforestation, with many members continuing to engage in highly destructive practises.
Choose products that have not palm oil.

The key is making an informed choice and being aware of what ingredients are in your product.

I have attached an information sheet which will given you some CSPO and palm oil free brands and products, and although many of these products are found in Australia, there are some that are found internationally-palm oil free list_130115

Also the WWF has read retailers and manufactures on their palm oil use and this should definitely be looked at (especially if your a McDonalds fan!)- check out pages 15 and 17 on their report.- po_scorecard_2013_latest

please have a look and make a change!

Peace and palm oil free eating:)

The Enviro Lifestyle begins

So this if officially the first post of The enviro lifestyle.
So what is this blog all about?

Well, essentially its about me trying to learn and share. The topics and issues that i am hoping to learn and share about are of an environmental nature. I guess i have always had an interest that is slowly developing into a passion for the environment and how we can live in a modern world and make positive environmental decisions that don’t necessarily require massive changes to our day to day life.

My belief is that too often we view ourselves as separate from the environment we live in, and that an ‘us vs them’ mentality exists, and this leads to destructive behaviours or even just becoming passive observers of the environment. I believe that we are part of this environment and that in a way we need to live more harmoniously with nature, and that preserving environments, landscapes and ecosystems will ultimately benefit us al in the long term.

I am currently an Aussie living in the UK. I have lived most of my life in big cities (Sydney, Melbourne, London), and can often feel that living in this urban setting has limited my capacity to be more environmentally conscious. I mean how can i build a composting toilet or rely completely on self generated solar panels, when i am renting, don’t have the money, and don’t have the technical skills. And so maybe i cant make these big changes, but i can make smaller changes, and so its about adapting some this knowledge to our own setting, and making a small effort to do something a little bit better.

So what will this blog achieve- well hopefully it gives me a forum to post things about the environment that interest me, and ways that we may be able to alter our behaviours which will bring us closer to that harmonious relationship.

If there is anything that interests you please feel free to let me know and ill see what i can do to explore it and bring it here.