The Bottom Line: Plastic can seriously harm the health of living beings, including Mother Earth.
The evidence is growing that chemicals leached from plastics used in everyday life, including for cooking and food & drink storage, are harmful to human health. Among the most disturbing of these are hormone - aka endocrine - disrupters, such as Bisphenol A (BPA). BPA has been associated with increased risk for cardiovascular disease, miscarriages, breast and prostate cancer, reproductive dysfunction, metabolic dysfunction and diabetes, and neurological and behavioral disorders. The health risks of plastic are significantly amplified in children, whose immune and organ systems are developing and are more vulnerable.
The manufacture of plastic, as well as its destruction by incineration, pollutes air, land and water and exposes workers to toxic chemicals, including carcinogens. The evidence of health risks associated with certain common plastics is increasing and regularly appearing in established, peer-reviewed scientific journals.
Environmentally, plastic is a growing disaster. Most plastics are made from petroleum, a non-renewable resource extracted and processed using energy-intensive techniques that destroy fragile ecosystems. Plastic pollution, both on land and in waterways, is growing to alarming levels. New research is pointing to levels of plastic waste in the oceans far greater than previously estimated.
Plastic packaging – especially the ubiquitous plastic bag – is an enormous source of landfill waste and is regularly eaten by numerous marine and land animals, resulting in fatal consequences. Jurisdictions around the world - most recently Los Angeles - are instituting plastic bag bans to try and decrease the amount of plastic waste making its way into streets, waterways and landfills.