My guest Jay Sinha is co-founder and co-owner (with Chantal Plamondon) of Life Without Plastic, a one-stop shop and information resource for high quality, ethically-sourced, Earth-friendly alternatives to plastic products for everyday life. They founded the business over seven years ago after some tough experiences with chemical sensitivities and following the birth of their son. They sought to avoid the toxicity and awful environmental footprint of plastics but had difficulty finding certain key housewares in a non-plastic form. So they set out to find and source them for others too. Jay has degrees in biochemistry, ecotoxicology and law, and prior to LWP explored jobs ranging from tree planter to environmental consultant to corporate lawyer (most who know him can’t quite believe this one – nor can he) to Parliamentary researcher and policy analyst. This was the most obvious route to becoming a passionate anti-plastic activist and ecopreneur. He loves to walk in the trees – he and Chantal and their son live among the trees in a small dynamic rural community. We’ll be talking about how Jay and his wife manage to live without plastic and some of the great plastic-free products they have on their website. www.debralynndadd.com/debras-list/life-without-plastic
TOXIC FREE TALK RADIO
Life Without Plastic
Host: Debra Lynn Dadd
Guest: Jay Sinha
Date of Broadcast: August 20, 2013
DEBRA: Hi, I’m Debra Lynn Dadd. And this is Toxic Free Talk Radio where we talk about how to thrive in a toxic world because there are toxic chemicals out there. And the more we know about them, the more we can recognize them, and the more we know that there are safe alternatives, the more we can protect ourselves, our families, all our loved ones, our friends and the planet from the health effects, the emotional effects, the mental effects, the spiritual effects of these toxic chemicals.
And so what we talk about on this show is getting to know these toxic chemicals, so that we can eliminate them from our lives and make healthier choices.
Today, we’re going to talk about plastic. We’re going to talk about plastic and how it affects our health, but also how we can live lives without plastic.
But before we do, I just want to read you a quote. And I’ve mentioned before that, every morning, I send out quotes. You can go to my website, ToxicFreeTalkRadio.com, and sign up in the newsletter sign-up box, and then it will take you to a page where you can choose words of wisdom, and you’ll get a quote from me every morning, such as this one.
And this is from James Allen. Though you might not recognize the name, you will probably recognize the title of his most famous book, “As a Man Thinketh,” which has been this universally known ever since it was published in 1902. He was a British philosopher and writer. And many, many people have read this book. And he says:
“The greatest achievement was at first and for a time a dream. The oak sleeps in the acorn, the bird waits in the egg. Dreams are the seedlings of realities.”
And what we’re doing here, we’re talking about toxics, is that we are being the acorn, we are being the egg, we are being the seed of something to come. And as we make these choices, and create a non-toxic world together, a toxic-free world, then it comes into being. And that’s why this is so important.
My guest today is Jay Sinha. He’s the co-founder and co-owner with his wife, Chantal Plamondon, of Life Without Plastic, a one-stop shop and information resource for high quality, ethically-sourced, earth-friendly alternatives to plastic products for everyday life.
Thanks for joining me, Jay.
JAY SINHA: Well, thank you, Debra. It’s a real privilege and a pleasure to be here to chat with you.
DEBRA: Thank you. I’m so impressed with your website because not only are you selling things that aren’t plastic, but you’re also playing attention to the quality of those things, and choosing very high quality products—not things that are going to break or just junk, that you’re really looking at other aspects of it, as well as them not being plastic.
Tell me how you got interested in this subject.
JAY SINHA: Well, it goes back a ways. I’ve always been pretty environmentally-oriented. I mean even going back as far as when I was about 11 years old, I remember doing a project on acid rain, and I was really passionate about that.
But for us, it really began around 2002. We were living in a home that had some pretty serious mold issues. And I happened to be also working in a building that had mold issues. So both Chantal and I became quite sick.
We left. We were able to leave the sources of the problem, the mold. But we both became quite sick for about a year. And this caused us to become more sensitive to environmental irritants, things like perfume, cigarette smoke, and certainly molds and mildews.
So, we began looking for ways to remove toxins from our everyday life. In that same year as well, our son was born. So we certainly wanted to minimize his exposure to toxins.
And we read an article in Mothering Magazine during that period about plastic toxicity and the risks for children. And that was a bit of a light bulb flash for us and got us thinking about all the plastics around us—bottles, Tupperware containers, what we’re using.
So we began looking for a stainless steel water bottle. And this was 2002, 2003. There weren’t many out there at all. We had a really hard time finding one.
DEBRA: Not at the time, yes.
JAY SINHA: We did find one online, ordered it, tried it out and liked it. And we were also looking for glass baby bottles to store Chantal’s breast milk for when we’d be going out or traveling. And they were the norm back in the ’50s, ‘60s, even early ‘70s, but we couldn’t find them anywhere. So again, we did find one supplier eventually, and we contacted them. And they said, sure, you can buy some. But the minimum order is a thousand because they only did wholesale.
And so that got us thinking. We were both feeling rather disillusioned by our jobs at the time, looking for more meaning and more impact in our work and how we were spending our time.
And so that’s really how the company began, with stainless steel water bottles, glass baby bottles, and then some stainless steel food containers as well.
Chantal began at full time. She had taken time off when our son was born. And then a couple of years later, I also left my job and began working full time on the company. And just as it went on, we added more products and focused on things that were hard to find in a non-plastic form.
DEBRA: Yes, there are a lot of things that are hard to find.
So, what are some of the things that you think are most difficult? I know that I’ve been living without plastic for about 30 years, also, from my own chemical sensitivities many, many years ago. And I found that, once I understood plastic and what was going on with it, that I didn’t want to have it. I wanted to eliminate it as much as I could.
I think that it’s unrealistic to think that one could eliminate 100% of plastic—I know I haven’t been able to do it—and still live in a modern technological world. But I find that there are so many things that I can replace that I don’t have to use plastic for.
So give us some examples of some of the early things that you were wanting to replace after the bottles, and what was your success, or lack thereof, of finding those items.
JAY SINHA: Well, you’re absolutely right about the difficulty of removing everything. That’s quite overwhelming when you begin looking at it. So we began with the focus on food and drink, and trying to remove all plastic from coming into contact with what we would put into our bodies essentially.
So, there are the bottles I mentioned. But also, stainless steel food containers, we began using more of and just non-plastic dishes of any sort, we’d use glass, ceramic, wood. For storing food—for example, leftovers—we use stainless steel containers or glass containers which are relatively easy to find.
DEBRA: Yes, they are.
JAY SINHA: Some of them do have plastic lids, but you can certainly arrange it so the plastic doesn’t touch the food.
Another one was bags, for example. Reusable now are everywhere, but we began using just cotton bags, which were relatively easy to find as well.
Those were the main things. Utensils, as well, stainless steel utensils are everywhere. That’s one that didn’t require much effort for us.
DEBRA: I think for me, it was, first of all, just becoming aware of what was plastic in my environment because I think that a lot of people can’t recognize plastic. They just don’t know what to look for.
It really is amazing. I remember back 30 years ago, when I first started asking myself these questions, it wasn’t in my awareness. So people don’t walk around thinking this is cotton, this is plastic, this is wood. And it’s not an issue unless you’re trying to evaluate the safety of all those materials actually.
JAY SINHA: Absolutely! And there wasn’t an issue for us either. We were using plastic quite regularly until all this happened. It made us look at our whole lives. And then, when we began looking at the plastics around us, there were so much. Personal care products, shampoos, soaps, tended to come in plastic bottles. So we shifted more to bar soaps, those things, or bulk.
Buying in bulk is an amazing way to avoid plastic. You can bring your own containers now. Back then, it was very out of the ordinary. Now, it’s becoming a little more accepted and even more mainstream to bring your containers to a bulk store, have it weighed there beforehand, and then fill it with whatever you’re buying.
And there are more and more places that offer natural, non-toxic alternatives to preserve-laden personal care products. So that was another big one that we switched to.
DEBRA: We’ll talk more about this after the break. Especially after the break, we’re going to talk about the dangers of plastic.
Why would you want to stay away from plastic, in addition to the obvious environmental things that the toxicity and not biodegrading, but the human toxicity of plastic—why in our homes would we want do that.
You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd, and we’re here today with my guest, Jay Sinha of Life Without Plastic. And you can find Life Without Plastic at DebrasList.com, or you can go to his website directly at LifeWithoutPlastic.com.
DEBRA: This is Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd. And we’re here today with Jay Sinha from Life Without Plastic talking about how we can live without plastic.
Jay, I want to let you talk about why plastics are dangerous, and I know you have some stories of how people have been affected by that. But first, I want to say just as a background that there are many types of plastics, that they vary in toxicity, and that it’s difficult to identify some types of plastics, and that we should just be, in general, watching out for plastics that I don’t spend so much time saying is this a fiber, or what kind of plastic is it, or how can I identify it.
I just, across the board, eliminate as much plastic as possible.
JAY SINHA: I totally agree. And that’s very much the approach we take as well—a basic precautionary approach is just to avoid plastics.
Plastics are really a chemical soup. They are petroleum-based or natural gas or coal. So they’re coming from fossil fuels that they’re based. And I know you interviewed Beth Terry. And I heard you talking quite a bit about the environmental aspects there. It was a great interview, so I won’t talk too much about that. Those are very energy-intensive. An extraction process is used to just get the base material to make plastics. And all the waste [unintelligible 11:54].
But in terms of the health, you may have a base plastic polymer, but a lot of additives are added to the actual plastic to provide certain quality, such as softness, rigidity, durability. It could be things like actual softeners (which are usually phthalates), flame retardants. And as you say, the toxicity is going to vary from plastic to plastic.
I know you also interviewed Mike Schade about PVC. And that’s certainly, probably, the worst out there. It’s just phenomenal that it is still a consumer product. To give that example, PVC contains up to about 55% of plasticizing additives by weight.
DEBRA: And lead too! You can just touch it, and get lead in your body, just from touching PVC.
JAY SINHA: And it’s still being used to make things like toys.
These are obviously hugely disruptive to the body, and especially to developing system—so children, pregnant women.
But in terms of some of the effects on actual people, we’re in a unique situation this way because we often are contacted by people who share their experiences with us about their experiences with plastic. I really believe we’re just beginning to see the tip of the iceberg of effects of plastics on people.
What we’re finding are there are more and more people out there suffering from allergies to plastics with varying levels of severity.
To give you a few examples, it could be something as simple as someone getting a numbness in their mouth, or even a sore throat from drinking water that’s been in plastic. We’ve heard of that a number of times.
An interesting one, a pianist wrote to us, and he explained the importance of tactile memory in the fingers when playing the piano, especially for difficult pieces that require a lot of concentration.
DEBRA: Yes, I play the piano.
JAY SINHA: Do you? I do as well—not well, but…
But he found, interestingly, when he would be playing a piece, and he may stop to look something up on a keyboard, his plastic computer keyboard, the computer keyboard seemed to have a detrimental effect on his tactile memory. He described it almost as jamming his radars, as he put it. Once he touched the plastic keys, it seemed to erase his tactile memory and make it inaccessible for a while. So it would take him a while to get back into the piece more than if he had stopped and done something else as opposed to working on the computer and went back to playing the piece.
So, he was wondering if it could be a link from certain plastics contributing to something like ADD or general lack of concentration. Any idea?
DEBRA: One of the things that I found when I was writing my book, Toxic-Free, is that I looked up—I started researching so long ago. But I looked up, again, while I was writing the book, about the health effects of could we find toxic chemicals that contributed to health problems of all kinds. And what I actually found was that every single body system is affected by toxic chemicals.
You can actually look up online any body system and find toxic chemicals that contribute to damaging that body system—everything from our DNA to our skin, to nervous system, kidneys, liver, everything, everything, our brains.
And the nervous system is very, very sensitive to toxic chemicals. And any kind of neurological problem, where you’re having sensory touch in your fingers, that would be neurological. The communication between your fingers and your brain would be neurological, all these things.
So that, it seems very likely to me. And as a pianist who grew up playing on ivory keys on a real piano, it’s very different for me when I feel those plastic keys.
JAY SINHA: What you’ve just described, it’s exactly what some of the other anecdotes we’ve heard from people. There’s a lady who came to us looking for a non-plastic toothbrush. She’s highly allergic to plastics. And she said that the last toothbrush she tried had some plastic in it and caused her to go into anaphylactic shock and required an epi injection, a preservative-free one.
And after years of searching and consulting tons of doctors, she’s been able to diagnose her particular condition as a rare genetic disorder called mast cell activation disorder. But she found that the symptoms of that condition were highly exacerbated by exposure to plastics.
But probably the most shocking example we’ve heard—and that’s a very recent one. There’s a couple like this one we’ve heard. This one is from a woman named Veronica Miller who is in California. She would like to get her name out there to try and connect with other people who might be experiencing what she’s experiencing to help them and to get help herself.
For her, since 2008, she’s been suffering from an extremely severe and painful form of what she calls plastic poison. She’s seen tons of doctors over the past five years. And they have no idea how to explain her condition or even certainly not diagnose or treat even.
When she comes into contact with any type of plastic or a food or drink that’s been in a plastic container, her body reacts really swiftly and really violently. She’ll get a burning sensation on her lips, on her tongue or on her throat. If she touches plastic, her hands get red and sting. If she sits on a plastic chair, even with clothes on, it makes her itch and burn.
She’s had multiple surgeries. When you talked about the nervous system, she’s had multiple surgeries to repair severe nerve damage from what seems to be the plastic caused stress in her body. So she’s in a very difficult situation and is really looking to let people know what is happening, if possible, from exposure to plastic and looking for ways to get beyond that.
She has also provided her e-mail if anyone wants to contact her directly. And that is MyPlasticPoisonedLifeVM@cox.net. We can also put that on your blog.
DEBRA: We can put that on the Toxic Free Talk Radio blog. We need to take a break now. You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd. I’m here with Jay Sinha. We’re talking about Life Without Plastic.
DEBRA: You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd. And my guest today is Jay Sinha from Life Without Plastic.
Jay, is there anything else you want to say about Veronica?
JAY SINHA: Well, just that she’s very eager in connecting with other people who might be feeling what she’s feeling. So yes, I won’t go too much more into—her story goes on and on. There’s much, much more than what I mentioned as far as what she’s being through and the pain she suffers. But that gives you a taste of what her life is like on a day to day basis.
DEBRA: Certainly, I think that plastics can be associated with all kinds of things. I’m not a doctor, and I don’t know her at all.
But it may be that what she’s experiencing has been caused by multiple different chemicals that put her body in this position where she’s so sensitive to plastics.
And certainly, if people continue to be exposed to toxic chemicals—I have many, many stories myself of people that I’ve talked to over the years where your body can just get worse and worse and worse to the point where you just have reactions to everything or end up with cancer, heart disease.
Virtually any illness can be associated with toxic chemical exposure. So anything we do to reduce our exposures to plastics have lessened that load on our bodies.
So tell us about some of the products that you have. What are your favorite products on your site?
JAY SINHA: I have a number. One is certainly the air tight containers. They’re a great replacement for Tupperware. We use them all the time for our son as well, for his lunch. They have clips in a silicone seal, so they are air tight and water tight.
I also love a lot of the brushes we have because brushes are something that’s perhaps not as obvious, but most people use a brush for cleaning dishes and there’s obviously the toothbrush.
We work with a wonderful German company. It’s an old family business that makes completely natural brushes from sustainably harvested primarily beech wood and then all kinds of different natural bristles. And brushes, anything you could imagine, for sweeping, for hair, for the kitchen, for toilet brushes with agave bristles.
DEBRA: I noticed that. In 1990, I went to Germany to earth-friendly—they have a word for it, I forgot what it was. But they had this awareness much earlier than we did here in America. And so I went to a trade show to see what all these green products were. And one of the things that I saw was whole exhibits with all these wooden brushes laid out. I had never seen anything like that before because there are so many plastic brushes here in America.
I’m looking on your page, your body care page, and you have wooden toothbrushes, which is something that I love. I want to ask you a question about these. Do these have natural bristles as well?
JAY SINHA: They do. The bristles, it’s good to explain those. The bristles are made out of pig hair. And this is an issue for some people. We looked into quite a bit of detail with the company. The bristles are sourced from a race of long-haired pigs which is only found in China.
The pigs from which they come are used in the meat industry. So they’re slaughtered just for the meat. And in the past, the hairs, which are used for these bristles, has simply been discarded.
So, this company was able to source these bristles in this way. And they’ve tried all kinds of bristles for toothbrushes. And they have found really that these are the only ones that, so far at least, work well as a toothbrush and maintain some stiffness while also being soft at the same time.
So they’re able to source these bristles—and obviously, completely cleaned and sterilized. But they do work well. It’s just it can be an issue, for example, for people who are vegan, definitely.
DEBRA: I was just looking at this because many, many years ago, one of the first things that I wanted was a plastic-free toothbrush when I was trying to eliminate plastic. And I looked all over, and I couldn’t find any in America. But I happened to go to England. This was in 1987.
I happened to go to England. And it’s very easy to get natural bristle, natural handle brushes there because it’s part of their tradition. And so, I bought an animal bristle toothbrush. And I actually liked it a lot. But I understand the vegan issue.
And then, there was a time period where there was a company that was making wood-handled brushes. I think there were natural bristles, but I don’t really know what they were.
And then recently, I just found in a local store some natural bristle. They’re made out of bamboo. The handle is bamboo. But they have nylon bristles. And I actually read a whole discussion online just the other day because of this debating natural bristles, natural animal bristles versus nylon bristles.
JAY SINHA: Well, Beth Terry has an excellent post on her blog all about that with a lot of the debate in there. It’s a good resource for that.
DEBRA: I will look on her blog about it. Good. So let’s go on. Next favorite product.
JAY SINHA: I really love our ice cube tray. That was a really fun product to create as well. It’s based on a model that my mother had from—this would go back to the ‘60s. It was originally made out of aluminum. Ours is made out of stainless steel.
It’s the old style where you have a lever that you pull that actually breaks the cubes.
DEBRA: I have one of those.
JAY SINHA: You do? Oh, good. And they work quite nicely. It breaks the cubes quite cleanly.
DEBRA: They do. That’s what I grew up with, those metal ones that you pull.
JAY SINHA: Yes. So we use that a lot. I really love the wooden comb.
DEBRA: I have one of those too.
JAY SINHA: One thing that we really love are some of our new school supplies and office supplies like the tapes, the paper tape, the cellulose tape. And we just got this amazing glue from Italy. It’s a non-toxic glue that smells like marzipan. It smells delicious, you just want to eat it. It’s certainly, completely non-toxic. It’s made from potato starch and almonds. And it works very well as well. So that’s another favorite.
Our glass containers are certainly [unintelligible 25:44] They have stainless steel lids. And that works well in the fridge. For example, with the stainless steel ones, we often write on them. But some people complain that they prefer to see what’s in the container. And in that sense, glass works better. Of course, it is more fragile, but the lids being stainless steel works well.
Our take-out stuff, we love our sporks. We carry them with us everywhere. It’s a little stainless steel spork, which is a spoon and a fork combined that folds. It has a foldable handle. And we carry them in our pocket, a purse, glove compartment. They’re just super handy for avoiding takeout utensils which are evil.
DEBRA: We need to take another break. But after we come back, I’m going to ask you what are you doing eating takeout anyway in those plastic containers.
This is Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd. And I’m here with Jay Sinha. He’s from Life Without Plastic.
DEBRA: You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd. And my guest today is Jay Sinha from Life Without Plastic. That’s LifeWithoutPlastic.com.
And Jay, I don’t mean to put you on the spot about eating out, but this is something that I was thinking about the other day. I was thinking about going out—and even to go to my natural food store when I’m out. It’s really hot here in Florida. And I do carry water with me. But sometimes, I want to stop and have a green tea or ice organic coffee or something like that.
And even if I go to my natural food store where they use filtered water and organic coffee and organic green tea, they still put it in a plastic cup. And I was thinking, “You know what? I just need to bring my water bottle, my glass water bottle, and say,
‘Here, put my ice coffee in this bottle.’”
JAY SINHA: Exactly. It’s becoming more and more of a norm. The more people that do it, the better because then the retailers get used to it, and it doesn’t become a chore.
But we are also great proponents of eating fresh and eating local as much as possible which definitely cuts down on the plastic waste.
DEBRA: On the plastics, that’s right.
I make 99% of the foods that I eat. I buy it just as raw ingredients, and I fix it myself. And I used to eat out a lot because I actually enjoy going to restaurants and trying food prepared by other people. It helps me learn and it gives me something different, and different taste experience.
But I had this experience that I said on another interview where I was buying a lot of ricotta cheese. I was living in San Francisco and buying a lot of ricotta cheese. And I just kept looking at all these plastic cartons piling up. And I decided, you know what, I’m going to buy organic milk in a glass bottle, and make my own ricotta cheese. And I did!
JAY SINHA: Good for you.
DEBRA: But it’s just a matter of being aware and this vigilance about recognizing where plastic is, and then being creative about coming up with a solution.
JAY SINHA: Yes, it takes a bit of time and a bit of planning.
DEBRA: And patience into yourself.
JAY SINHA: Absolutely, and changing our habits. But if you can begin to incorporate it into your routine—
A great thing to do—and we live in a small community—at the end of the harvest season when there’s all the amazing vegetables in July, August, September, is to do some canning, and preserve things for the winter. It’s really enforced, so the whole idea of canning—which was the norm.
DEBRA: It used to be the norm, yes.
JAY SINHA: And so that brings back—
DEBRA: And dehydrating. You can also dehydrate.
JAY SINHA: Absolutely!
DEBRA: I have a dehydrator. And I haven’t learned how to can yet. I haven’t learned the proper way to put things in a jar and seal it up, so that it doesn’t get any bacteria or things in it. But I do dehydrate. But even more importantly, I eat seasonally. I’m not trying to eat tomatoes in the middle of winter. But I think that canning is great.
There are so many things that can be done in terms of changing our lifestyle about this.
We’re almost to the end of the show. Is there anything that you want to make sure that you say? We’re not down to the last minute yet. We’ve got about five minutes.
JAY SINHA: One thing I really wanted to try and encourage people to do is to educate themselves. Get an idea of, if you have to have plastic in your life—which most of us do. As we said before, it’s almost impossible to eliminate it completely. And it does have its uses. There are uses for it which are important.
But to learn about the different plastics that are out there, especially if they’re coming into contact with your food and drink, things that are going into your body, and becoming you.
And there are tons of resources out there. We have lots of information in our site. Beth Terry’s blog and book are worlds of information. If you’re interested in the marine side of things, there’s Five Gyres and the Algalita Marine Research Foundation doing cutting-edge research on plastic pollution in marine environments.
The Plastic Pollution Coalition is galvanizing and organizing the whole anti-plastic movement. They have information.
The Breast Cancer Fund, Environmental Working Group, Environmental Defense—there’s no shortage of information. And from these sources, it’s somewhat organized and credible and peer-reviewed as well, in most cases.
And then, I would say, just spread the word. Tell your family, your friends, about the issue. And start taking small actions. Don’t try and do it all at once because you’ll be overwhelmed, but bits and pieces. Start with reusable bags, getting a stainless steel water bottle. They’re easy to find. If you don’t want to pay any money, use a mason jar. It’s much better than a plastic bottle.
And if you want to go a step further, start writing to companies that have tons of plastic, unnecessary plastic packaging, and ask them to change, or urge them to change.
There’s so much that we can do. We’re true believers in lots of small actions adding up to huge paradigmatic change.
DEBRA: I totally agree with that. That’s what it is. People do get overwhelmed, if you say, change everything at once. But people can change one thing. And that’s why I like to give suggestions about what’s the one thing that somebody can do, and then what’s the next one thing because I changed everything in my life one by one.
And as we’ve talked about in the quote, at the beginning of the show, you start with a seed, you start with an acorn, it becomes a tree. An egg becomes a bird.
There was one question that I actually wrote down that I didn’t end up asking you. We have a couple of minutes. You can answer this.
What about water proofing? This seems to be the one area where I haven’t been able to find an alternative to plastic, and whether it’s a water proof sheet on a mattress, or a plastic layer on a mattress, to keep it clean and dry, or raincoat, or all those times when you need to keep something dry.
Do you have any ideas about what to do with that?
JAY SINHA: That is a tough one. One thing that is starting to become I think more of the go-to fabric for that sort of use could be wool. It absorbs very well. It’s obviously not completely impermeable, but it may be a starting point.
I know it’s used a lot, for example, for diapering more and more. And it works beautifully.
In terms of something that is like a plastic, I don’t have anything specific to suggest right now. I know there are lots of bio-based plastics coming out, but that’s a bit of a murky area, we still feel. And we’re very cautious about getting into it because it’s not completely clear what all of the replacements are. And even the plant-based ones, they usually are mixed with other chemicals in order to achieve a real plastic-like quality.
DEBRA: Do you know anything about what those other chemicals are? I wanted to ask you about that too, about the bio-based plastics because, as I said in the beginning, there are so many different types of plastics. And at one point, I tried to divide them up between the petrochemical plastics, and the bio-based plastics. And you could have the same type of plastic.
I’m trying to figure out one off the top of my head, and I’m drawing a blank.
But the type of plastic could be made from a feed stock of petrochemicals, or it could be made from a feed stock of sugar cane, but it’s still the same type of plastic. And so something could be on a label with that name, and you don’t know where it’s come from.
JAY SINHA: Exactly. You especially have to be careful of the ones that are, what they call, oxo-degradable because they can contain, for example, heavy metals. And they’re often marketed more as biodegradable, and that they will break down completely. But they’re not breaking down into a non-plastic substance. It still can be a plastic.
Those are the ones I would especially watch out for, the oxo-degradable ones. I know some of them do contain heavy metals.
And some of the other additives can be added to the starches to weaken the plastic and cause it to break apart.
I don’t have specific names on the additives themselves, but they essentially allow the plastic to break apart faster, so that the plant-based part can be broken down by microorganisms. But you still have a plastic element there, so it’s not completely being broken down. It’s just in a smaller form, which can be taken up by smaller organisms, and still get in the food chain.
DEBRA: It’s still there. It’s broken down into particles. It’s not broken down into basic elements, basic molecules.
JAY SINHA: Exactly! Hydrogen and water.
DEBRA: Yes, exactly. Well, let’s end on a pleasant note. What positive thing can we say about living without plastic?
I like to say over and over again that I find that my life is much more pleasant and pleasurable living with the natural materials than living with toxic chemicals or plastics or anything. Do you find that’s true for you too?
JAY SINHA: Absolutely, absolutely. As I mentioned, we live in a rural environment. And we try to live simply. And that lends itself to more and more living without plastic.
And appreciating the simple things like eating local and eating fresh is a huge one. And it affects your whole life because, as you’re doing when you are creating food from scratch, it takes time, it takes planning, but it’s incredibly satisfying and so much healthier.
DEBRA: And it’s so much more delicious.
JAY SINHA: Pardon me?
DEBRA: It’s so much more delicious.
JAY SINHA: Absolutely! When you know where your food is coming from as well, that’s a huge element, which we find goes hand in hand with living without plastic. The farmers near where we live, we know them, and we know the food they’re growing.
And that’s another added element. We know the food is grown with love.
DEBRA: And I have to interrupt you now because we’ve come to the end of the show. Thank you so much for being with me.
I’ve been talking to Jay Sinha from Life Without Plastic, LifeWithoutPlastic.com. And this is Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd.