Pardon this rant – no deep research in this article, just my thoughts after 2 years of spending lots of time thinking and writing about plastic. You may even wonder what the big deal about plastic is? Is it simply a ‘fad’ that mothers are feeling so neurotic about plastic and if toys are safe, reducing plastic in the kitchen, and many other household items? Plastic has been making parents crazy for the last few years because of all the research learned about the chemicals that can leach from this cheap, durable, and easily accessible material.
After writing 250 articles over the last 2 years, one thing remains a constant worry, a constant nagging concern for my family, have I done enough to protect them from chemicals that I believe cause so many horrible illnesses? It’s a challenge that can become very discouraging when you look at the massive amounts of packaging and our pre-programmed thought process when it comes to our relationship with plastic. One reason I’m drowning in clutter and a lack of closet space in my house is what to do with plastic items I’ve accumulated over my 10 years of marriage and parenthood. I try to explain to my husband and friends if I thought it was even remotely able to be recycled, it would have been gone by now. Why is it so hard for toy manufacturers to code their toys with what type of plastic they are made from? If a toy is made from a safe plastic, wouldn’t the company want to market that fact? Of course they would, meaning that those millions of toys out there are unrecyclable and a complete burden on the environment and our health. It’s a sick relationship because I still feel torn at birthday celebrations and (upcoming Easter) from wanting to splurge and buy everyone fun products that would emit the scream of delight from my kids and family. But – since I’m pretty sure that most are made from unrecylable plastic, some with PVC and others with vinyl – softened with toxic plastisicers – I can’t bring myself to reach for my purse. It’s just crazy that I’m even torn about this issue! Right?
Then the problem of food and packing rolls along. I’ve discovered that toys are really not my biggest problem in life when it comes to plastic. If you tune-in to the number of products in your fridge that you children consume that are wrapped in bendy, soft plastic. What makes this plastic soft? Even if the cling wrap is made from PVC -free material – some sort of chemical needs to soften the plastic. Think about yogurt tubes, think about cheese strings, think about the block of cheese that comes wrapped in plastic, then when you cut into it, needs to be sealed with plastic wrap to ensure it stays fresh. We’ve replaced our yogurt tubes with YOP (hard plastic) and I try to put wax paper in between the cheese and the plastic wrap after I’ve opened a new block of cheese. I make a big effort to not let plastic wrap touch my food directly – wax paper is usually a great barrier. I’ve been meaning to try these Obeego Flats from Abeego Designs sold here at Every Little Bit. They have a natural waxy coating that allows the hemp/cotton blend to mold to your dish or food item – it would be perfect for a bowl or food item you usually wrap in traditional wrap.
A few things continue to shock me about convenient food. We all know that unless you are growing your food youself that there is probably environmental contamination. It’s just not realistic to think that everyone can do this….but with the amount of convenience, it’s understandable why so many cancers and disease are on the rise. Let’s take McDonalds for example. Probably the worst culprit on so many levels, but my two pet peeves are the toy that is distributed with every child’s meal and when I found out every wrapper on a burger contains phthalates to keep the wrap slippery. I want to point out these two points because we are already aware the food is not healthy, but this company insists on adding to an environmental problem with their packaging and waste. Really – why hand out a plastic toy with each child’s meal? At most McDonalds the cost isn’t even decreased if you ask for the meal without the toy. These cheap toys cannot be recycled and every parent I know has a ton of them cluttering up their house.
Piece by piece, room by room, making changes and learning about where toxic materials exist is important. It’s just such a huge undertaking, I sometimes wonder how many of the large companies are listening and what needs to be done to get them to change. Until this happens, I’ll continue to chip away at my immediate surroundings and hope that it makes a difference in my children’s health and that I don’t wind up crazy in the process.
Our Mommy Footprint contest for the stainless steel popsicle mold has now closed and the contest winner (Anna) has been contacted. Thank you for participating via Facebook and the referral form. Stay tuned for our next contest in April.