The demand of any reusable cup that are plastic free is increasing a lot in London, especially in the last few months.
When we talk about reusable cups, we refer to any cup made by glass, bamboo, cork, china etc. etc. But why people are avoiding plastic cups? Plastic cups are harmful cause they contain Bisphenol A or BPA.
BPA is a chemical that we can’t avoid completely: found in nature, we breath it naturally but it’s mostly found in most of the disposable cups such as paper cups and plastic cups.
BPA is released mostly by the hot temperature of the liquid together with other chemicals that leaching out of plastic. Polystyrene for example, helps isolate the high temperature of the coffee liquid avoiding to burn our hands when holding a take away cup.
Bisphenol A is an endocrine/thyroid disruptor associated with an increased risk of heart disease, liver disease, diabetes, ovarian dysfunction, testicular, breast cancer and prostate cancers, early puberty in girls, decreased sperm production, altered functions of reproductive organs and obesity. It also affects our brain.
According to the Journal of the Yale School of Environmental Studies “there is also now abundant research that links BPA and phthalate exposure to such human health concerns as deformities of the male and female genitals; premature puberty in females; decreased sperm quality; and increases in breast and prostate cancers, infertility, miscarriages, obesity, type 2 diabetes, allergies and neurological problems, like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
The biggest problem is the BPA-free alternatives. Most of the people feel safety when using them. In fact, they contain other chemicals like bisphenol-S or pesticide atrazine (responsible of sex-reversing) that are even more harmful. According to a research of Deborah Kurrasch of the Department of Genetics of the University of Calgary, the problem lies in the lack of industry regulation; “currently, no federal agency tests the toxicity of new materials before they are allowed on the market. We’re paying a premium for a ‘safer’ product that isn’t even safer, Kurrasch says. There are many types of bisphenols out there, so part of the public’s responsibility “is making sure [manufacturers] don’t just go from BPA to BPS to BPF or whatever the next one is.”
So, how can we avoid these chemicals?
We can start having a look at the lids of the cups, seeing which number is printed on the lid. We have to avoid #6 and #7 that usually are not BPA-free. #6 component is Styrofoam or polystyrene. Carcinogen and neurotoxic that are not recyclable and not biodegradable. #7 is basically BPA and is not as well recyclable.
Another thing we can do to avoid these chemicals is try to reduce the waste associated with our cups and use reusable ones.
An Australian company made a reusable cup that doesn’t contain any toxins. It’s called KeepCup and is made from polypropylene #5. According to the company it’s made from a single injection mold and it can be recycled. The original KeepCup is made of plastic but in 2014 they introduced a glass model, made with tempered soda lime glass, a silicone lid and a plastic or cork band.
In conclusion, we are not hugely exposed on BPA but science is not yet really clear about how BPA can affect us. But I believe it is better to avoid any toxic products, thinking about more at the environmental sustainability.