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Going Green: Get Rid of Plastic Bottles

written by: Laura Jean Karr•edited by: Laurie Patsalides•updated: 2/6/2010

Using plastic water bottles are both bad for your health and bad for the environment. Here we are going to take a look at what type of bottles are bad to use in general and what type of bottles should never be used at all.

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    There a quite a few people who buy plastic water/drink bottles and then reuse them over and over again. Reusing the bottles in that fashion is very bad for your health. There are even some plastic bottles that shouldn’t be drunk from straight from the store. Plastic is essentiality a porous material, which means that some of the chemicals leaches out into the liquid it contains. Some chemicals leach more than others but the point being here that any chemical that leaches is going into your body.

    Now, you’ll notice that there is a recycling number on the bottom of plastic bottles. Some bottles will have #3 and others will have a #7 and so on. Those numbers signal the different chemicals and therefore the way in which they need to be recycled for easier separating. Some numbers are not too bad in regards to human use, while other numbers should be avoided at all costs.

    Number’s 1,2,4 and 5 are considered usable for human consumption products based on being made out of PET/PETE, also known as polyethylene terephthalate. The #1 contains the basic polyethylene terephthalate. The #2 contains a high density polyethylene and the #4 contains low density polyethylene. PET/PETE is a thermoplastic polymer resin that comes from polyester. When PET begins to degrade, it releases Acetaldehyde, which is better known as ethanal.

    The #5 contains Polypropylene, which is also known as polypropene/PP. Polypropylene is another thermoplastic polymer with a density rate between that of the high and low density polyethylene’s. PP however, will begin to degrade when exposed to UV light.

    All in all, plastic bottles and containers that have number’s 1,2,4 and 5 are the safest to use but you do not want to reuse them. And remember to keep your number 5’s out of the sunlight.

    Now, let’s take a look at the plastic numbers that you should avoid at all costs and those are numbers 3, 6 and 7. The #3 plastics are made from Polyvinyl Chloride/PVC, which contains a human endocrine disrupter called di-2-ehtylhexyl phthalate. The #6 plastics are made from Polystyrene/PS, which is another human endocrine disrupter. The #7 plastics are made from Polycarbonate, which leaches out a hormone disrupter called bisphenol-A. Using any of these numbers over a prolonged period as an adult or even beginning consumption of these as a child can actually change and or interfere with the chemical balance in human body.

    Remember, that in the standard green three R's of Reduce, Reuse and Recycle that when it comes to plastics you want Reduce and Recycle not Reuse.