Archive | BPA Plastics

Plastic Ocean Pollution From Your Home

I attended an online round table discussion on plastic ocean pollution a few days ago and the panel of experts were amazing. It was hosted by an internet radio show KQED SCIENCE and really expanded my awareness on the toll plastic pollution is having with our oceans. Two points were a surprise to me and since they can be controlled through education and consumer dollars – I’ve expanded the topics below. If you’d like to access a full link to the discussion & panel, there is a full recording on the Surfrider Foundation blog.

We know many of the causes of plastic ocean pollution are not good for your health, so if the topic of ocean pollution seems too broad – let’s dial it back and think of it starting in our washing machines or bathroom sink and the problem will seem closer to home. My thanks to Beth Terry, author of Plastic Free for the invite and your great advice during the discussion!

Microfiber Pollution via Your Washing Machine

A question was asked of Sea Captain Charles Moore about pollution from washing polyester clothing in household washing machines. I’ve always voiced my concern over the amount of plastic on clothing that is washed and heated in dryers, so my ears perked up at this conversation. And Captain Moore would know about plastic pollution because in 1997 he discovered an area in the mid-Pacific Ocean the size of Texas that became dubbed “The Great Pacific Garbage Patch”. He agreed with the study that polyester sediments are not able to be filtered through washing machines and these microfibers are being consumed by marine life. The life cycle of PET bottles being turned into fleece clothing might not have the ‘green’ story we want. The very small particles are called microplastic and they are no larger than the head of a pin. Until microplastic can be removed from sewage we need to re-think what is going into our washing machines. We avoid polyester in my house because we have eczema skin issues which is aggravated by this synthetic fabric, but because of this new discovery I will really think twice before dropping my microfiber cloths into the washing machine. Panelist Beth Terry recommends using natural fibers for clothing and I agree. 100% cotton, or organic when possible is such a better alternative against skin than polyesters that will leach “more than 1,900 fibers per wash into waste water.” *Sources and sinks. Environmental Science & Technology doi:10.1021/es201811s.*

Microbeads in Facial Scrub

It was Bill Hickman, Surfrider Foundation’s Rise Above Plastics Campaign Coordinator that was talking about removing every day uses of single use plastic and ways to start at home that mentioned a sneaky culprit that might enter the waterways via a facial cleanser marked as natural *yuck*. Because micro beads are a huge source of plastic pollution I wanted to mention this source and the thought of rubbing plastic on your face to ‘clean’ it is really disgusting. The ingredient in this facial cleaner containing plastic beads is Polyethylene. Here is an image from the Rise Above Plastic fan page that is more descriptive on this topic, but since all of the panelists talked about the problem of microplastic (plastic that is less than 5 millimeters in size), you can see how this size of plastic entering the ocean is going to have huge impact on sea life. Captain Moore mentioned that ocean plastic pollution is killing more animals than climate change – that really surprised me but also renewed my energy with trying to further reduce my own amount of plastic waste since consumer dollars are such a huge way to help. Think of every source of single use plastic in your lives. If you can make this one change – this would be the highest impact and improvement for your personal waste and the environment!

Surfrider Foundation has published some amazing visuals to aid with ocean plastic pollution. They also have a great article with more ways you can help with plastic pollution here. I see how quickly this images travel around Facebook when they are published – I hope they make more! Here are two images they’ve created that have the highest impact to inspire change – photo credits to Surfrider:

 

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Canning Local Corn For Winter Months

I’m so grateful for the people that surround me and inspire me to try new things. I’m especially interested in canning and moving as far away from GMO foods as possible. This is always harder in the winter when the produce isn’t as easy to come by and we end up eating a lot of frozen corn and peas. So when Nancy from Surviving and Thriving On Pennies posted a picture on her Facebook Fanpage of corn niblets in a canning jar, my ears perked up. She doesn’t know, but by giving me a visual and really easy instructions, she gave me the confidence to attempt canning. The idea of taking fresh, local produce and freezing that, rather than store bought, possibly GMO corn stored in plastic, and replacing it with a healthier alternative that I know we’ll eat is a huge blessing for me. It’s these little steps that make me feel like a better mom and encourage me to keep finding ways to improve the food my kids consume. So thank you Nancy (!!) and I hope this prompts more people to support local corn farmers and freeze for the upcoming winter months with canned niblets!

I used 11 ears of corn for this trial canning batch. I overestimated the number of jars I would need (they are large 1 litre jars) so I did sterilize all 12 jars (boiled two at a time in a large pot for 10 mins) but only used 3 jars. We took one of these jars to my moms for dinner tonight and it gave 7 of us a great portion size of corn. Now that I know it works and my kids will eat it, I will purchase 40 ears of corn and do a giant batch with all 12 jars.

So 11 ears of corn filled 3 1 litre mason jars that would feed a family of 6. First I sterilized the jars, then to avoid the BPA exposure from the canning lid inserts, I dumped that batch of water and boiled the corn for a few minutes in freshly boiled water to blanch the ears. I removed the corn and let it cool. Next I took a knife and removed the niblets, just ran the sharp knife down the sides and the corn came off beautifully. Then I added enough corn to fill the jar approx. 2/3 full and added water from the pot the corn was boiled into each jar until the water was 1.5 inches from the top.

I left room at the top of the mason jar for a few reasons: 1) glass expands when frozen 2) I don’t want the corn or water touching the lid because most mason jar lid inserts have a coating of BPA. I figure by only having the food touch the glass, I’m reducing my BPA exposure.

I let the jars open to cool the corn and water combo quicker, then sealed with the lid and insert. These jars are not in my freezer and when we need frozen corn niblets, I’ll boil this corn, rather than the frozen supermarket corn. This is a GREAT first canning food and I highly recommend giving it a try. BC produces delicious corn this time of year, so why wouldn’t I take advantage of local quality?  I’m eager to try a few more canning foods so please post any instructions or links you have! There is so much evidence pointing to the foods we eat causing so much sickness in North America – it’s time to re-think our relationship with food and ‘convenient’ store bought garbage we are consuming. A movement is circling our families – it’s time to re-learn what our grandparents did and improve our health with locally harvested food. It’s an exciting time…let’s embrace it!

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Save Money & Green Back-to-School Supplies!

I have never ordered a pre-assembled kit of back-to-school supplies. My oldest child used to feel left out when every other child in his class was given ‘the box’ on the first day of school but now he has no problem bringing his decorated shoe box with more carefully selected school supplies inside. At this stage of my parenting journey, I’m not even sure I would pay the money to have a green pre-assembled school supplies kit provided for my children because I think we often forget about reusing with back to school. For the last few years, at the end of the school year, I parked their books and supplies in a bag or box and forgot about them in a closet. This year I combed through previous years of supplies and to my delight I won’t need to purchase many new items! Check out the sets I made from mixed sets of crayons – I have four complete sets for each of my kids!

I wasn’t sure if teachers would mind if supplies weren’t new and I was reminded by a reader and teacher on the MF fanpage that a crayon color spectrum is really more important for your children than the teacher. Purchasing Crayola products goes against so much of what I believe in because they are a huge company that doesn’t have the manufacturing standards I usually support –  so it’s been a relief to realize it’s up to my kids if they only want 6 beeswax or soy crayons in art supplies that are made in North America and don’t contain petroleum. The Clementine brand I point to at the end of this article for crayons, markers, and glue are all manufactured in the US and that is important. I of course won’t be purchasing the soy or beeswax crayons this year because I’ve done a great job of rounding up crayons in my own home – reusing is always best! And I’ve made 4  complete sets! But when you need to purchase new, avoid the petroleum, plastic, and antibacterial crap on the market and become your child’s eco warrior with back-to-school shopping!

Where else can you easily up-cycle with back-to-school supplies?  You know the little interlined work books for elementary school?  I have found more than 10 of these from previous years that only have a few pages filled out . . the rest are blank! I’ve ripped out these pages and will be sending the rest of the blank books with my kids. I have blank printer labels and will be applying these to the front of the books to eliminate the name, grade, subject information my children wrote from previous years. There is a cost savings here and think of the amount of wasted paper each year?!

Other supplies that are still in great condition that we are reusing from previous years? Wooden ruler, O’bon coloured pencil crayons, pencils, duotangs (empty and reuse), scissors, and paint! Now here are some tips for purchasing new back-to-school supplies. This is a great time to talk about commercialism with back-to-school. If you want to keep rolling over school supplies each year, stay away from the licensed folders, pencil cases, backpacks, water bottles, etc. That cute little monkey design or Dora and SpongeBob print might be cute for Grade 1 but they are not babies anymore by Grade 2 and might feel embarrassed by bringing what they once loved at this age. Keep supplies classic and simple – there is a secret to longevity by doing this. I would also encourage not to bring small children back-to-school shopping with you. If it’s just going to be a tantrum or fight for the supplies they don’t understand are poor quality and toxic – let kids stay home. Bring older kids with you and explain why and how you are making decisions on what to buy. Have older children go through supplies from the previous year and save what they’ll reuse. Also have them participate with decorating the up-cycled shoe box to bring supplies in.

I noticed last year and again this year, companies are doing a lot of marketing for Microban and antibacterial products. Examples of this are pencils, scissor handles, water bottle lids (the worst of all in my opinion), and binders. Normally Microban in plastic contains Triclosan which is a chemical that does not belong in back-t0-school supplies. The original use for Triclosan, a strong chemical, was used in surgical rooms. Why would we turn a classroom into the equivalent of a hospital with antibacterial properties? Skip this chemical (look for antibacterial or Microban marketing) and if you are asked why by school administration you can reply “this is a pesticide linked to hormone disruptions, allergies, asthma, skin irritation, eczema, and thyroid problems”. I have found when you explain to teachers the reason behind limiting your children to chemical exposure – that you’re not trying to be difficult – they are very understanding. Probably the biggest product linked to antibacterial and might be on your school list is hand sanitizer. This is an important one to make eco-friendly and the easiest way is to not purchase anything and request that your child is given the opportunity to wash their hands more often. If you are more comfortable knowing he can disinfect quickly – send Cleanwell wipes or spray in your child’s back-to-school kit. Again, unleash your eco-warrior and don’t let the marketing of ‘germs’ pressure you into purchases that use endocrine disrupting chemicals that could lead to an allergy. Here is a personal story about hand sanitizer. The brands that have perfume or strong scent will trigger a reaction with a person (like me) with chemical sensitivities. A person in one of my children’s classes had just applied hand sanitizer (apricot scented) and the 2 minutes I was in the classroom delivering hot lunches, I felt dizzy and left with a headache. Please be aware of the effects of using strong chemicals – if not for yourself but other people.

I’ve also noticed some ‘non-stick’ marketing with back-to-school supplies. Does anyone need teflon on their scissors? I’m not sure what the inner coating of lunch bags that are marketed non-stick but I stay clear! Remember my article on teflon lined diaper bags? Since researching this article I’ve been wary of non-stick lined products that are marketed to clean or wipe up quickly from spills. I stick to 100% organic cotton lunch bags in place of this and love that they are machine washable. Sticking with cotton is just a great way to go with backpacks, gym bags, and sandwich bags because at the end of their life, you cut off the zipper and plastic velcro and compost. That is a great full cycle story for a product…reuse, reuse, reuse and then compost.  It’s my favourite kind of story.

The last tip is the most important for back-to-school supplies shopping. Avoid plastic. All plastic. I don’t care if it’s marked free of everything; BPA, phthalates, PVC, etc.  At the end of the day, at the end of it’s shelf life – it’s still plastic. We are experiencing the greatest problem in our history with ocean pollution and the leading cause is plastic. Our health has never been so clouded with problems: cancer, asthma, allergies, diabetes, skin sensitivities, endocrine disruption, and more. I don’t trust plastic. Studies have found that many products labeled BPA-free still released chemicals that mimic estrogen.  PVC plastic is a known poison to human health and the environment so if you are purchasing backpacks or supplies made from plastic, please ensure it’s marked PVC-free. Summon your eco-warrior and use your nose if buying plastic…don’t put anything in your cart with that strong plastic smell.  Did you know that coloured paper clips contain PVC coating? With all supplies, including litterless lunch systems, stick with plain stainless steel. Most supplies like rulers, folders, duo-tangs, and binders have non-plastic alternatives in stores. Pens and markers still appear to be the toughest plastics to avoid with back-to-school. Search out recycled plastic options to lesson your environmental impact. If you see a specific plastic request on your child’s school supplies list from the school, try substituting it with a material you are comfortable with. On my children’s list I see a plastic containers to put supplies. Every year I use a shoe box, my kids decorate it with a best memory from the summer and I’ve never received a complaint. Sometimes the supplies lists we are receiving haven’t been tweaked in many years so it’s more of a guideline. The below picture is of my oldest son’s supplies box from last year. It’s in such good shape we are using it again this year!

 

I reviewed soy crayons a few years back and loved them!  You can find Clementine Soy Crayons via Organically Hatched. These crayons are literally like using butter – they just glide. If your child is happy with streamlining their color selection to 6 – then you should be happy too! And minus the petroleum and colorants used by traditional companies! Actually, you could pickup non-toxic glue, crayons, markers, and paint all at the same time shopping here. There isn’t anything eco-friendly about the plastic surrounding the Clementine markers but they are additive free, without scent. Having discussions about what has influenced your purchases with back-to-school products is a wonderful time to educate children. I’m hoping by going through supplies from previous years and re-using what you can, the ability to afford the slightly higher prices for greener back-to-school supplies is manageable. Your children will become your voice and echo the education. My child was the one in Grade 2 last year telling his teacher that the cleaning supplies they were given to clean their desks were toxic and gave him a headache. We donated bottles of diluted Dr. Bronners for our children’s classrooms until the school switched over the Green Seal certified cleaners. A child’s voice is important and matters – give your children the wisdom and help create Eco-warrior children that inspire change!

Related Articles:

Back To School Eco Backpacks

End of School Sustainability

Teflon Lined Diaper Bags


Soccer Saturday – Getting Ready For Rain!

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What You Need To Know Re: BPA-free Products

I watched a documentary back in January regarding the link to BPA and obesity. The film was called Programmed To Be Fat? and was aired on The Nature of Things with David Suzuki. Click here to view the documentary and my apologies for readers in the US that might not have access. For you, I’m going to summarize the important parts of the film, but before I do, there is something you all need to know about BPA-free products and how manufacturers might be able to get away with labeling a product as BPA-free, when in actual fact, not lessening the adverse chemical effect within the product. Let’s take the most common example of a BPA-free product: toddler sippy cups or food containers.  We have been lured into a safe cocoon by seeing the words BPA-free stamped on the packaging. Well what if manufactures are using a sister chemical to make the product called BPS?  It is true and here is the quote from Professor Fred Vom Saal from the University of Missouri as quoted from the documentary. If you are still purchasing products marketed as BPA-free thinking they are safe for your family, this is a must read:

Because people want BPA-free products, they are using BPS as a replacement for BPA. And the problem is BPA and BPS are both estrogen mimicking chemicals and there is no reason to think that BPS is going to be a lot safer than BPA.

Understanding this fact might be as important as realizing that packaging stamped with “phthalate-free” while still being made with PVC (the most dangerous & toxic plastic available) gives consumers a false sense of security. And really, as consumers are WE OKAY WITH THIS? Really, to have people making products geared to babies and children, I ask again “ARE WE OKAY WITH THIS?”  No we are not. What is the easiest way to avoid being duped by the huge companies profiting off poisoning our families?  Avoid plastic all together. In my mind, especially in the form of food, liquid storage and food packaging.  My thanks to Groovy Green Livin who shared the Huffington Post article this morning regarding BPA and alternatives – it reminded me of what I learned from the documentary. Lots of good information in the Huffington Post article, but nothing talking about using BPS in products to dupe consumers.

 

 Now that you harnessed with the information on why to ditch plastic permanently, here is a bit of information on the documentary called Programmed To Be Fat? It was a very informative look into chemical exposure and another terrific documentary on CBC!

Experts believe that it’s not just our modern day lifestyles that are making us fat, but modern day chemicals. Why? Obesity rates have almost doubled in the last 30 years and is happening not only in the US, but in all countries with a western lifestyle. Also since 1950 on, newborn babies have been born heavier. When scientists starting examining the effects of BPA and reproductive science, they kept seeing a side effect in their lab animals and test – Fat. The main problem is during development (as fetus) and the newly found obesogens. This is a term coined by Bruce Blumberg in 2005, after getting the results of a ground-breaking study of pregnant lab mice fed a marine pesticide (and more importantly a endocrine-disrupting chemical) called tributyltin. He discovered that it was also turning reproductive cells into fat cells.

The link between obesity and diabetes is well known. What’s new is the possible link to chemicals. Programmed To Be Fat tells us that 20 years ago there was approx. 30 million people worldwide with diabetes … now there are 250 million (!!).  Being fat can cause cancer.  We know all of this and despite our best efforts to change this in society it is still happening. Why is that? Bruce Blumberg and other scientists will tell you they suspect endocrine disrupting chemicals and BPA is one of these.

The most important precaution they suggest in the film is to reduce chemical exposure and focus on nutrition if you are pregnant.  What we’re doing is programming people so that they will develop obesity later on in life that will be passed on to future generations. The focus needs to be precaution since we’ve allowed these chemicals into the marketplace without proper testing.

Related Stories:

Category filled with articles re: BPA Plastics

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BPA – Are You Still Here?

Happy New Year! I wanted to start the New Year with going back to basics on forms of chemical exposure. I’m starting with BPA because after so many years it still receives so much media attention. Did you know that researching BPA was one of my reasons for starting Mommy Footprint 4 years ago? I had four children under the age of five and our world revolved around sippy cups, lunch containers and cooking utensils. The hype back at this time was water & baby bottles and discovering they contained BPA. Some countries like Canada banned the use of BPA in baby products, but have done little to ban it from other sources, aluminum cans for example.  If you want to think about BPA in the most simple of ways and then brain dump the info (my favorite thing to do) so that you can move your focus onto the next class of chemicals to reduce from your life, do two things:

Do not purchase or use plastic to drink or eat from. It’s very simple…there so many great options on the market now: stainless steel and glass are the best in my opinion because they are dishwasher safe and besides from small amounts of nickel that leach from stainless steel, they are stable materials to reuse. With kids think stainless steel because if dropped on the floor it bounces rather than glass that will of course break.  Everywhere I go, I still see toddlers drinking from plastic sippy cups.  The argument from parents would be that these cups were marketed as BPA-free. I don’t trust it because I’ve read reports that products have been tested that are sold as BPA-free and still contained BPA!  You are also never supposed to dishwash plastic because the high temperatures will break down the plastic composite and busy parents love the convenience of dishwashing.  At the bottom of this article, I will link to my articles about using melamine dishware, Tupperware products and why I don’t use them. I also don’t use food grade silicone in my kitchen – the research isn’t there for me yet that this material is stable enough to handle freezing and hot temperatures.  And yes, I’m making this longer than it needs to be….if you want to avoid BPA – don’t drink or eat from plastic. (Tips on doing this are listed at the bottom of the article)

The 2nd way to avoid BPA – don’t drink or eat from cans. Could it really be this simple?  Well it’s really not if you think about all the different purposes we use cans such as pop, tomato sauce, beans, convenience alphagettis, canned soup, aluminum water bottles, etc. Aluminum is toxic to humans so all cans need to be lined with a material to separate the liquid or food from touching the can – this is where BPA enters our food system. All cans are lined with an epoxy liner that contains BPA which is why levels of BPA are high in teenagers.  Think about all the coke, convenience food they eat. So before you cook or drink out of that can ask yourself two questions: ” can I make this from scratch rather than using a can?” (tomato sauce, soup, etc.) and “is there an alternative to how this food or drink is packaged?” (tomato sauce packaged in glass bottles, beer in glass, etc.) Science has recently suggested that BPA is linked to diabetes. What if our love for canned beer and coke have helped increase rates of diabetes?  So not just the sugary liquid is hurting our health by the way it’s packaged!!

Why do we need to avoid BPA? Even low dose exposure has been linked to diabetes, heart disease, and because of the estrogen-like properties of BPA it’s also linked to breast & prostate cancer, early puberty, behavior problems, and reproduction issues.  Exposure to BPA doesn’t seem to just effect you while in the moment, unfortunately it’s a chemical that is found in our fetuses so the real cause for concern is how it effect babies with such small systems to process and flush a chemical such as BPA.  So for many people if you have older children this might need be the chemical at the top of the list to focus on for 2012 and how to reduce it. A chemical to be aware of for sure – but when stacked up to lead exposure, flame retardants, and PFC (non-stick)..there are definitely more toxic chemicals that exist with human health. With flame retardants being referred to as the asbestos of our generation…I feel like the education for the general public needs to advance away from BPA. Yes it’s a toxic chemical that effects human health but adults flush this chemical quite quickly from our systems. And this is why I write this article to start 2012. I see BPA mis-quoted all the time in social media when trying to avoid chemical exposure. In writing this article, if you are eliminating the two steps listed above with plastic contact to food/water and canned food you are eliminating much of your contamination from BPA. With the chemical being produced in the billions of tons each year, it’s already in our water system so exposure cannot be totally eliminated. But here at Mommy Footprint we like to control our own destiny, so this is my recommendation for those concerns with this chemical. Ditching water system jugs that are coded a 7, not reading newspapers and switching to receiving your news online (BPA is in newspaper print) and not taking printed receipts (receipt paper contains BPA) will also help you, but there are not as easy to eliminate as step 1 and 2 outlined above.

Here are more article and all of the articles I’ve written over the years on BPA can be found in this category: BPA Plastics

Below are some great reads to get your caught up on food and liquid preparation without BPA. Want to get caught up in the world of BPA exposure – these articles should do it!

BPA in Dental Sealant?
http://mommyfootprint.com/holistic-dentistry-mercury/

BPA Alternative with Ice Cube Trays:
http://mommyfootprint.com/mommy-footprint-chemical-free-ice-cubes/

Finding Food in Glass Jars: http://mommyfootprint.com/finding-food-in-glass-jars/

Plastic & Melamine: http://mommyfootprint.com/pssst-plastic-melamine-can-we-talk/

Tupperware & BPA: http://mommyfootprint.com/tupperware-bpa-2-years-later/

Alternatives To Freezing Food in Plastic: http://mommyfootprint.com/alternatives-to-freezing-food-in-plastic/

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