The Bruin

The Plastics in Your Food

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The Plastics in Your Food

A reusable water bottle owned by a BHS student. Taken by Selna Shi

A reusable water bottle owned by a BHS student. Taken by Selna Shi

A reusable water bottle owned by a BHS student. Taken by Selna Shi

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Plastic: it isn’t just a bottle that holds water, or a cover that wraps around candy, it is something that people consume everyday.

Humans have been ingesting plastic since they were in their mothers’ wombs. When people drink water from a bottle, they are consuming microplastics. Microplastics are tiny pieces of plastics that are broken down overtime. Heating up plastic containers can cause the plastic particles to break down even more into microplastics, which gets into the food that people eat. According to World Health Organization, more than 90% of water bottles on earth contain microplastics.

On average each day, a person could ingest up to 100 microplastics and between 14,000 to 70,000 plastics each year, according to Environmental Pollution.

So what are the effects on health? Microplastics can alter hormones and cause hormone imbalance. The brain thinks the plastic molecules are estrogen because both chemical structures are similar. This can lead to excessive estrogen hormones in the body, which can increase the chances of getting ovary cancer, diabetes, and obesity.

Ingesting plastic does not only affect human health, but also animal health. Aquatic animals are the most at risk. The oceans are filled with large amounts of plastic. Eventually, the ocean water breaks down those plastic particles small enough for marine life to ingest and harm their reproductive systems, which can lead to a decrease in population.

Many BHS students believe that plastic containers are convenient and easy to dispose.

“It was [plastic bottles]  just the most convenient in the morning to grab and go,” said Kaitlyn Keesee, Senior.

“That’s what most of my drinks come in,” said Jeremiah Rutherford, Senior.

While many students think plastic containers are convenient, some students believe the opposite.

“I use a reusable water bottle because it’s better for the environment, and I don’t want to buy a bunch of water bottles ‘cause that’s annoying,” said Erin Crawford, Senior.

“I’d rather use [reusable water bottle] it everyday than use different ones,” said Julia Lattimer, Senior.

Thus, what can people do to stop ingesting or ingest less plastics?

“You’re better off with metal and glass or plastic intended for multiple purpose,” said Adam Rotche, environmental science teacher.

Government organizations like Food and Drug Administration have not enforced regulations on products that come in plastic. However, Center for Food Safety, Breast Cancer Prevention Partners, Environmental Defense Fund, and Environmental Working Group have sued the FDA over the “secret Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS)” list. The list contains harmful chemical substances that can be added to food.

Locally in Blacksburg, The Cellar Restaurant has stopped using straws to “save the turtles.” Town of Blacksburg held a Sustainability Week to educate people about the local environment and how people can be more sustainable with their resources.

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The Plastics in Your Food