MY niece received an exciting letter from David Attenborough last week. She had written asking for his advice on how to help save endangered sea creatures, and his reply was straight to the point: we must stop throwing away so much plastic.
Every single piece of plastic ever produced is still cluttering up the Earth, and we throw away more every day.  
Since the last episode of Blue Planet 2 that focused on the conservation of our environment, there’s been a flurry of protest about the amount of plastic used in food packaging – and rightly so. Shrink wrapped coconuts, tomatoes in plastic trays and wrappings: food producers and supermarkets must take responsibility for a great deal of our plastic waste.
There is plenty we can do ourselves though, and plastic-free solutions benefit our own health as well as the lives of other living creatures.
Plastics contain chemicals known as ‘endocrine disruptors’. The endocrine system is made up of all the body parts that produce hormones. When these hormone messengers are disrupted, it can lead to serious ill-health.  
Endocrine disruptors have been linked to a range of health issues; from cancer and diabetes, to infertility and developmental problems.  These conditions affect animals as well as humans: polar bears in the once pristine waters of the Arctic are now suffering thyroid problems thanks to our plastic waste.
Bisphenol-A (BPA) and phthalates are two such endocrine disruptors found in plastics.  Heat allows them to leach into food more easily so if you are a fan of ready meals, beware! Always decant food into a glass or ceramic container before heating up.
Many food storage manufacturers now offer BPA-free lunch boxes, water bottles, and containers, though these are not guaranteed to be completely safe from the negative effects of plastics.  
I had a moment of enlightenment last year when I discovered glass jars are safe to use in the freezer.  I’d always thought they would crack and leak but no, they work brilliantly!  Just remember to leave a good inch (two and a half centimetres) between the food and the top of the jar to allow for expansion.
Cling film is a good example of single-use plastic as it is virtually impossible to reuse.  Before reaching for the wrap think about what else you could use instead.  Cover dishes with plates or use ceramic bowls with fitted lids to store leftovers.  
Beeswax cloth wraps are a great alternative: scrunch the cloth around half a lemon, or a bowl of leftover soup, and the heat from your hands seals it into place.  Made from cotton fabric with a beeswax coating, the cloths are washable, non-toxic, and last for months.
Making a few simple swaps to plastic-free products is the first step we all need to take to preserve our beautiful planet.  

Sally Duffin is a Nutritional Therapist based in Holgate, York. Find her online at or join the Facebook group ‘Nutrition in York’.