July 10, 2023
Head to our beaches this summer and you face a stark reminder of today’s plastics crisis as you squish through the sand, increasingly composed of microplastic. As the fossil fuel industry faces growing public pressure, it is turning toward using petroleum to produce ever-more plastic instead of fuel.
Plastic and Your Health
From a Chinese medicine perspective, the jing (deep energy reserve) of the planet is being tapped and either burned, creating either excess heat/yang and warming the atmosphere, or made into plastic and chemical compounds, which can be seen as pathological yin or phlegm. Chinese medical wisdom teaches that “phlegm is the mother of a hundred diseases.”
A growing body of research links chemicals produced in the manufacture, use and breakdown of plastic to myriad health problems, including obesity, infertility and cancer. National Geographic research recently suggested that humans ingest about a credit card’s worth of microplastics a week in food, water and air, while microplastics have been found in human lungs, blood, breast milk and semen.
What We Can Do to Turn the Plastic Crisis Around
These plastic particles and novel chemicals may or may not be able to be removed or neutralized by the body’s natural detoxification systems. To best protect our personal and our planetary health, we need to both avoid and minimize exposure through opting out of plastics whenever possible and advocate for the removal of plastic from the economy and environment.
At the AIMC clinic, we are supporting the global plastic-free movement by offering reusable glass jars for your granule herb formulas. You can purchase a jar with your next herb prescription for $2, wash it at home after you finish your herbs and bring it back for your next herb refill. Also, please re-use the plastic measuring spoon at home or opt out of plastic altogether by using a teaspoon to measure your granules (1 level teaspoon = 3 grams or 1 heaping teaspoon = 4 grams).
We are also conducting an inventory of our plastic waste including needle tubes and packaging this month. We’ll be working to find lower-waste alternatives, stay tuned for details.
Want to get involved with Plastic-Free July? Explore the following:
- Take the Global Plastic-Free Challenge here.
- Petition the US government to take a stronger stance in negotiations over the UN Global Plastic Treaty here.
- Learn more with the animated short The Story of Plastic, or view the award-winning documentary.
- Plan ahead when you shop by packing reusable shopping bags and cloth bags for bulk items and produce. Stock your car or bike bag with a few utensils, reusable cup and shopping bags to support your efforts to refuse plastic on the go.
- Try bar rather than liquid soap, shampoo and conditioner, or shop at a refill store like Fillgood in Berkeley or the Re-Up Refill Shop in Oakland.
- Make your own yogurt, hummus, kombucha and more to save money and skip the containers. Check out the Zero-Waste Chef for recipes and kitchen-greening ideas.
- Whatever you do, don’t do it alone! We need to join together and magnify our efforts to beat this one. Speaking about the issue in your family, workplace and community has an impact. Food and Water Watch, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club, Berkeley’s own Ecology Center and CalPIRG are just a few of the many great organizations working on this issue.
About the Author
Nishanga Bliss, DSc, DAIM, LAc, is a holistic doctor and educator who believes that personal and planetary health are interdependent. She teaches Chinese and integrative medicine at AIMC, where she practices in the community clinic, offering nutrition consults, herbal medicine and acupuncture. She is passionate about protecting the planet and is active in the climate movement. A former chef, Nishanga loves kitchen medicine and practicing the ancient healing art of fermentation. Her book, Real Food All Year: Eating Seasonal Whole Foods for Optimal Health and All-Day Energy (New Harbinger Press, 2012) dives deeply into the practice of eating with the seasons, weaving the ancient wisdom of Chinese medical nutrition together with nutrition science and real-world culinary know-how. Visit her website at: https://nishangabliss.com