Tag Archives | Boon bath toys

Confused About Phthalate-Free?

Confused about the latest buzz phrase parents?  Welcome to the new BPA-free world of marketing and labeling. You know how you see BPA-free stamped on every kind of plastic sippy cup or baby product these days?  Well move over BPA-free..with Canada banning 6 major phthalates in June (a few States have already banned these phthalates) you are about to see – and I’ve already noticed lots of branding and marketing for phthalate-free toys.  Why?  Now that the government has intervened, manufacturers and retailers are taking action to restrict phthalates from being added to soften vinyl in children’s toys and child car articles.  Yes this is great!  But I’ve seen a few examples of this warning being mis-interpreted by parents because there are other toxic chemicals that can be used to make vinyl or PVC soft other than phthalates.  And when a parent sees the wording ‘non-toxic’ and ‘phthalate-free’ but the toy is still made from toxic material…is this not a form of green washing at it’s best?  It saddens me that parents and consumers will be making purchases thinking they are making a very safe purchase for the environment and their children when this just isn’t the case.

I know, as I’m typing this I know I sounds like a real downer.  My country is making this great change and I’m not happy. I guess I’m jaded and a wee bitter because we’ve seen this pure marketing opportunity for business to flourish with each ‘milestone’ the government makes with banning toxic chemicals. Just remember when jewelry was marked ‘lead-free’ because it was newsworthy, but manufactures started using cadmium. I’ve read article after article that BPA can leach at room temperature (no high heats required) making it a chemical that should just not be used in any product…not just for babies.  And products marked BPA-free have been tested to contain it anyways. Now my fear for parents is seeing phthalate-free stamped on toys and children gimmicks and think they are safe.  I’m sorry, but they are not!  Most of the products being stamped with phthalate-free are soft plastic toys and they are made with PVC.  This terrible, toxic material cannot be softened without a chemical being added (plasticizers) and phthalates aren’t the only one that can do this. Do not purchase phthalate-free products that are made from soft plastic unless they also say PVC-free.  The closest products that come to mind for this type of greenwashing are bath toys for children, gag soothers, teethers, baby toys.  I went to many high end stores in my neighborhood (we aren’t talking dollar stores) and everyone was carrying ‘phthalate-free’ bath toys that are made from PVC.  We all know babies and children are going to put these in their mouth so why market them as safe?  It really bothers me and it’s why I’ve taken a break from writing over the last week. Sometimes I feel like the baby steps we are taking to protect our children become a marketing opportunity and it really bothers me. But at the same time there are so many companies, manufacturers, and retailers doing this it’s not fair to point fingers at one or two companies.  If you are confused if your baby products are non-toxic – you are welcome to ask on the Mommy Footprint Facebook fan page. We need to work together as consumers.  The true mission here is to keep asking questions so that stores will be accountable for what they sell.  I spent hours on the phone trying to talk with an appropriate person at Toys R Us to ask why they continue to sell vinyl and products made from PVC to babies.  A company like this could really make a difference because they are huge!  They have the resources to hire experts to decipher what truly safe baby products and toys are for children – but I can’t get a call back.  It’s disheartening when you want to work with a company to help change what our children are exposed to.  Really, only a company like Target, Walmart, Toys R Us, etc. can make a decision to ban certain materials they sell and have a big enough ripple effect to actually make a change. They carry the same or more power than our government with these decisions. Walmart announced they have banned polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) a widely available flame retardant that has mass outreach that is found in breastmilk to our food supply and is known to be toxic for human health. Walmart played leap-frog over government and although their business practices and certainly not always in support of local & green products, it shows the power of these huge big box stores. Imagine if they were to ban PVC. They wouldn’t have much to sell on their store shelves as far as toys and sporting equipment, but wouldn’t it be nice shopping without all the questions!?

So many articles in a short period of time on PVC, but we need to shop informed. Let’s stop giving our money to the stores that really don’t care about our kid’s health and the environment and support the ones that do. Below is a picture of the only rubber duckie I’ll currently buy. I borrowed this picture from The Soft Landing that sells these Boon Bath Toys. They are BPA-free, Phthalate-free, and PVC-free. I’m assuming they are made from natural rubber but funny enough I couldn’t get this information from the Boon site. Yes, a high end bath toy has finally hit the market and yes, we are not used to paying $6 for one rubber duck, but we’ve learned that quality is key – not cost. Kids don’t need 10 bath toys – 1 safer option will do and this model doesn’t have a hole in the bottom so there isn’t a mold concern either.

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Starting With The Bathroom ~ It’s Time To Chemical DeTox!

I’m taking a question from the audience with this article because the timing is perfect!  Angie emailed asking where a mom that has no idea how to become eco-friendly should start?  With the number of new parents finding Mommy Footprint I’m going to answer this question room-by-room starting with the bathroom for several reasons  1) more than two years after writing the article ‘Phthalates  Are Making Big News in US‘…today Canada announces they will be eliminating the same class of 6 phthalates in our country 2) I find phthalates to be very scary as they continue to lurk in every corner of a traditional bathroom because they haven’t had the media spotlight our friend ‘BPA’ has been hogging for three years 3) I’m excited to point you to an awesome online store called Saffron Rouge that is making this change easy and affordable by carrying the largest selection of organic brands (that I love) online. Even savvy organics consumers should be thrilled to discover this store because you can request free samples and can ask questions through online chat!

Okay so first – why should a person detox their bathroom?  Once you understand that becoming more eco-friendly in the bathroom isn’t just about helping our environment by not washing chemicals down the drain, but more about not letting chemicals soak into your body…it’s much easier to not want to purchase that container of shampoo for $.99 at Walmart.  Or – and I cringe typing it – the Johnson’s & Johnson’s crap for the next baby shower you attend. The movement behind removing chemicals that surround your most intimate place of refuge (the bathroom) is not about ripping off consumers – it’s about trying to help them flush the phthalates (chemical from these products) out of your body.  Are you trying to get pregnant?  Are you pregnant?  Do you have young children?  You are the consumers being targeted with detoxing your lives…but how I see it…you are the perfect candidates for this action!  I still haven’t answered poor Angie’s question and if she’s new to Mommy Footprint…she might not be used to my rambling.  Here I go Angie…

Want to start a household detox of chemicals?  I would recommend starting in the bathroom. It will be the most affordable room to start in because you will streamline what beauty products you’re using and replace with less, while purchasing quality, organic items. Never throw traditional bathroom products away just to ‘green’ your life. Put them on a top shelf because we all run out of things and it’s the perfect time to use this stuff up! To start checking the products your currently using in the bathroom, you’ll need to discover EWG Skin Deep Database. This stands for Environmental Working Group and they created a database that ranks most beauty products…from shampoo, conditioner, makeup, sunscreen, etc! You might find that some of your products are actually quite safe and eco-friendly so they can stay. The products that rank poorly should go on that top shelf. Now what? If you’re a newbie – you’re finding the site Saffron Rouge at the perfect time because US customers get free shipping over $50, Canadians get inexpensive shipping rates, and you can request free samples of products when you place an order. (Do you see what I mean about the timing of this article? It’s perfect!)  If your plan is to simply replace traditional beauty products when they run out – you can skip the EWG Skin Deep Database checking because Saffron Rouge uses the EWG as one of their tools for sourcing so the safety is already in place for the consumer.

I’m a huge fan of one stop shopping so don’t only green your beauty products in the bathroom but purchase the only cleaner you need.  Yes, I’m still talking about Dr. Bronners and I’ll keep talking about it for a longggg time. It is the only cleaner I have in my house – it’s all you need and it’s so safe for your family!  This liquid soap (the cleaner) and the bar soaps (for body), body lotions, and shaving gels for men are all available here. So many of the brands available are amazing and it’s easy to narrow the scope with budgets and preferences because of the range that’s available.  So I’ve got you covered for personal care and cleaning in the bathroom. If you have a Glade Plug-in or other artificial air fresheners that plug into the wall or are sprayed in a bathroom (Febreeze, etc.) this is the rule breaker for putting on a top shelf.  These need to go immediately. They are so incredible toxic to your health, pets, children, fertility, and babies. To make a statement I would take them to the hazardous waste dept in your area,but if you don’t have time….just recycle. What is your replacement?  Open a window and put some plants into your bathroom.  Anything that is marketed to ‘air freshen’ is only masking odor with chemical fragrance ….only outside air can help ‘clean’ the air. Read more on plant suggestions and air quality tips here.

Daily products that have antibacterial ingredients should be looked at too. Did you know that washing your hands with regular bar soap is effective for fighting the flu and colds?  Some products that contain antibacterial properties also contain triclosan which is a chemical that was created for surgical scrub rooms in hospital? Children should not be using products containing triclosan or microban antibacterial protection. Two places to check in your bathroom are plastic handles (toothbrush, toilet bowl scrubber, hair brush, etc.) that are packaged with antibacterial marketing, containing microban protection. Triclosan can often be found in hand disinfectant or toothpaste. Gross I know and more information can be read here on these chemicals.

Since Angie does have children..I’m going to take this bathroom detox one step further. The bath toys sitting in your tub? Are they a soft plastic?  Chances are they contain phthalates and the chemicals that make the plastic soft are what Canada is legislating to have banned by the summer. Think of your child or baby sucking on one of those bath toys like a sponge with chemicals on it.  I’m sorry….but the image really helped me when I got rid of them a few years ago. I love bath toys because all my kids enjoyed playing in the water but the soft, plasticized bath books and bathtub toys need to go.  I’ve used the Green Toys tea set and Boon bath toys with my smaller children. Naturally finished wooden products made for the water are another great option for tubby fun for older children.

A few bonus tips for the bathroom include sanitary product recommendations for women.  Have you ever thought that bleach on a tampon is toxic and the place it’s going is super absorbent?  This was the only product I couldn’t finish using up after I researched the article about tampons and pads. The thought of the bleach just made my stomach turn. I wrote an article regarding why women should use more natural alternatives and if you ask someone that’s tried a Diva Cup or reusable pad – they love them!  Saffron Rouge carries natural personal lubricants, all-natural deodorant and highly rated sunscreens.  These products are difficult to source so spend some time and poke around their site.  You can’t beat their everyday savings and product knowledge experts that are available through on-line chat to answer your questions.  If you have any for me – please post a comment and let’s discover that a household detox is actually much easier than it used to be. Writing this article almost 3 years after first discovering phthalates and writing about them has me pleased that Canada is taking action against this chemical but at the same time I’m sad at the lack of consumer knowledge. Forward this article to the people you love and ask them to start a chemical detox. It’s not about consumerism…it’s about making healthier changes in our lives with products we need to purchase for our home. Feel the power of educating yourself and starting a chemical cleanse.

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