Tag Archives | poison plastic

Greener Holidays & Eliminating PVC Under The Tree

Hello!  I’ve been away for ages and miss writing terribly so I’m thrilled to be covering a few different issues on my mind: greener ways to wrap gifts, the annual ‘fake or real’ Christmas tree debate, and Toys R Us and toxic toys. Much of my time in the last 2 months has gone to sourcing for my on-line store Green Planet Parties. I wanted to find items that were very green and practical…items that are truly unique, truly green, and still whisper Christmas when you see them. What do you think about gift bags, gift wrap, gift tags, and cards that are seeded with wild flower seeds so they can be planted once they start to tear?  Sounds kinda cool right?  I thought so – I’m very proud of the category called ‘Christmas Wrapped Up‘ and the products listed here are either plantable or reusable. Not only are the plantable items magical, but the reusable cloth santa sacks, Furochic wrap, fabric gift tags, and wooden clothespin reusable/vintage vibe items looking great!  If you are like me, I cringe when I wrap presents for people or even when I reuse traditional gift bags because there is a strange odor from them.  It’s not my imagination..I’m convinced they are coated with something toxic. I know I should be using newspaper or craft paper, but sometimes (especially around the holidays) you want unique and seasonal presentation with gifts.  Enter plantable gift bags or wrap and cloth Santa Sacks – these products are truly green and will remove any guilt with wrapping your gift and leave you singing Fa La La La La the entire time!

My next holiday themed topic is the annual debate of ‘fake vs. real’ Christmas trees. Which one is truly kinder to the environment? Some people say that reusing a fake tree is a better choice because you’re not cutting down young trees each year.  Others will argue that trees grown specifically for Christmas season is a better choice for the environment. I haven’t felt qualified to cover this topic in recent years but I’m ready to voice my opinion and let me start by saying we’ve used a fake tree for close to 6 years and I always felt a little smug because the thought of cutting down baby trees made me sad.  But – then I learned that all fake Christmas trees are produced from PVC.  This is the plastic (#3) that is called poison plastic.  You just need to understand that after you purchase a fake tree it will never leave the earth in an environmentally kind way.  Never. It’s taken me years to fully understand that a fake Christmas tree releases toxic dioxins into the air, into our bodies from the time the plastic is produced with making it, after you purchase it (the reason it smells) and there isn’t a way to effectively dispose of the tree. If you burn it – more dioxins are released, it cannot be recycled, so it will continue to exist when discarded for a very long time. The issue of PVC isn’t only about it’s harm to the environment, but also human heath.  Please note that I’m not suggesting anyone with a fake Christmas tree throw it away.  When something is functional, it should be reused as much as possible.  This information is for people struggling with the decision of “should I purchase a fake tree this year”?  When I purchased my fake tree, I had no idea what it was made from. Now I can make an educated decision on my tree this year, but it won’t involve throwing out a fake tree if it’s still usable.  Would I ever purchase another one?  Definitely not.

A new trend last year were little tree companies that will bring you a potted tree to use over the holidays, then it’s returned to the nursery or transplanted. It is easy to find they companies using Google but I warn you, this option is wonderful and very eco-friendly, but it’s expensive. Could you not purchase a potted tree on your own for less money I wonder?

Or – a very sustainable option exists out of Chicago.  The price of this tree is the equivalent to an expensive fake tree – but it’s lovely and hand made, and I want one all for myself to decorate with acorn ornaments.  This picture is from the talented Forestry Handmade site… get ready to swoon.

Now that I’ve softened you up with wonderful relaxing photos of handcrafted Christmas trees, I have some hard facts about toys and PVC. I have drafted so many articles that I’ve never published because they are full rants about Hasbro, Disney, Barbie, Toys R Us, and many more companies that produce and sell plastic toys because of my frustration that they can’t keep the issue of ‘safe plastic’ a priority for our children’s health. I’m going to try and remove all the personal conflict I feel about plastic toys aside (I’ve ranted along these lines before) and stick to the facts that CHEJ outlined this week on a new site they’ve launched called Toxic Toys R Us. This is a project run by consumer advocates looking to inform consumers about the sale of PVC-contaminated toys at Toys R Us. The hard facts are that although Toys R Us promised to remove PVC plastic, phthalates, and lead from toys they sell back in 2008 but tests have shown that toys they sell still contain PVC and no amount of labelling from the large toy manufacturers will help parents to understand if they are truly safe.  I cannot wait for their Toxic Toys R Us 2010 Report…I wish it was already out. And it’s only Toys R Us that’s been called out on the issue of PVC and toys.. . and we should be aware that all other big box stores carry the same products, the same toys, with the same set of standards.  Again, what is the problem for a toy made from PVC to land under the tree Christmas morning?  The same problems that I outlined with the fake Christmas tree are true for toys.  I wonder if this is the Christmas that as parents (myself included) wake up and realize the damage plastic has done.

Sorry for the lengthy post, but I have very mixed feeling about Christmas and it’s wonderful that I can purge my feelings and perhaps help others who might be confused about different choices we can make this holiday season.

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Reusable, Hip, PVC-Free Snack & Food Bag Alternatives

Since writing my articles about PVC and having a newly heightened awareness of not wanting ‘poison plastic’ (#3) touching my kid’s food, I’ve been seeking alternatives.  The most immediate solution was to start using wax paper to wrap sandwiches (I was using cling wrap before!) and using it as a barrier when wrapping left over cheese, watermelon, etc. . . anything so my food is not touching the cling wrap.  This is working well from a toxic standpoint, but is very wasteful.  Well a beautiful and functional alternative came my way from Plum Creek Mercantile and I’m happy to have a great cloth alternative.  Photo of Sorbet Swirl Snack Bag courtesy of Plum Creek Mercantile site:

We all know I’m a huge fan of stainless steel lunch containers, but I wanted to give cloth snack bags a try.  They are a great option for sandwiches, dry snacks, and veggies.  I’m always on the go and with 4 children to keep snacks readily available for, I can’t fit a laptop lunchbox or tiered lunchbox into my purse. Well my new cotton snack bags have solved this problem!  They are the perfect size for crackers, sandwiches, trail mix, veggie sticks, and more. . . they also have very strong velcro closures so I’m not worried about loosing my snacks.  They are also made from the softest, most hip and beautiful fabrics I’ve seen in PVC-free snack bags!  These bags are made of 100% organic and regular cotton in a variety of fabric choices ~ perfect for boys or girls with Cool Robot or Sorbet Swirl designs.

Another great product from Plum Creek Mercantile is their bulk food bags. These cloth bags are perfectly suited for people that shop from bulk bins. Naturally beautifully selected cotton with a functional, non-toxic clear window so you can see what’s in the bag.  You are able to easily record a bin number or expiry date written with a grease pencil or dry erase marker that can easily be removed later. If you want some inexpensive Martha Stewart flair on your kitchen countertops ~ check out these affordable, stylish food bags. 

 

 

We all love a bargain and Plum Creek Mercantile is selling slightly dinged food bags for a discounted price!  A set of two bags in the organic tea dye fabric are only $15.99 (picture directly above).  Take advantage of bags that merely have creases in the window or uneven sewing.  The structure of the bag is still intact, making this bargain perfect for someone wanting to try out this new system for dry food storage.  Enjoy almost $10 in saving on the two bags!

So think of all those times you reach into your kitchen drawer to pull out the cling wrap or plastic sandwich bags when preparing snacks and lunch.  After introducing these reusable cloth snack bags into your routine, you will be amazed and delighted at the savings.  Not only are the bags wonderful for the environment, but you keep PVC plastic away from snacks, meals, and stored dry food that your children consume. What an incredible product to introduce to your family this summer and watch how kids naturally understand and embrace how another part of their lives changed from disposable to reusable in a fun, easy way!

Related Articles:

PVC Items In Your Every-Day Life

PVC Plastic ~ The Poison Plastic In Your Home

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PVC Plastic ~ The Poison Plastic In Your Home

I had a light bulb moment today with PVC plastic – time to get my head out of the sand with this plastic known as ‘the poison plastic’ and realize it’s in more places than I care to realize in my home.  It is crazy why BPA gets all the media attention when Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC or vinyl) is the worst known plastic for our health releasing chemicals that cause cancer and other known health problems.  Many household products are still made from this plastic: plastic food wrap, fake Christmas trees, lunch kits, flooring, clothing, etc. It’s not just shower curtains that need to be reviewed and replaced – we are talking about everyday household items! In many opinions, this plastic is devastating to human health (a known carcinogen) and proven to cause cancer and I want it as far away from my children as possible.  Would you continue to use a product that has a warning across the packaging “using this product may cause cancer” and keep it in close contact with your family members?  Of course not, but it’s finding out where it’s lurking in your home.

It’s overwhelming to wrap your mind around all the places that may contain PVC.  I downloaded the PVC-free guide called Pass Up The Poison Plastic produced by the Center for Health, Environment and Justice and it was very helpful and something all parents should read.  After going through this document, I can guarantee you’ll discover items in your life that you didn’t know contained PVC.

Still not convinced that you need to rid your life of PVC plastic?  It’s recently been written that PVC vinyl flooring might be linked with autism in children.  That is pretty powerful  – here is the article from Eco Child’s Play.  Still not convinced?  To quote the Center For Health, Environment, Justice:

PVC (polyvinyl chloride) plastic, commonly referred to as vinyl, is one of the most hazardous consumer products ever created.  PVC is dangerous to human health and the environment throughout its entire life cycle, at the factory, in our homes, and in the trash.  Our bodies are contaminated with poisonous chemicals released during the PVC lifecycle, such as mercury, dioxins, and phthalates, which may pose irreversible life-long health threats.  When produced or burned, PVC plastic releases dioxins, a group of the most potent synthetic chemicals ever tested, which can cause cancer and harm the immune and reproductive systems.

How did the realization just come about for me personally?  I discovered the cling wrap I use is made from PVC and I’ve been using it to wrap the kid’s food for lunches.  Should it be touching my kid’s food?  No. Why did I not already know this when I’m entrenched with green products and issues on a daily basis? I can’t answer that either. You just don’t see as much reported about PVC – more about the harm caused by phthalates and BPA. I learned this week that I need to become more diligent about sourcing healthy PVC-free alternatives in my home.  Action items I took away from researching the article is to find out what kind of flooring is at my kid’s schools, find out if products (like my Christmas tree) continue to leech air-borne phthalates every time they are used even when they are several years old, research more food storage ideas that are PVC free, and purchase a PVC-free (non-vinyl) water hose for this summer because my kids always drink from it.

When it comes to children’s products and toys, it’s also not clear-cut which are made from PVC because most don’t have the PVC resin code stamped clearly on the product. The recycling code for PVC plastic is number 3 (with chasing arrows around it). I use the term ‘recycling code’ loosely though because you cannot recycle PVC plastic, which has a colossal impact to the environment because of it’s wide use. Actually, one PVC plastic bottle can contaminate a recycling load of 100,000 PET bottles because of the many different toxic additives used to soften PVC (phthalates, plastizers, etc.), so if you think a product is made from this plastic, you might be doing more harm by tossing it into the recycling bin. If this is still confusing, try watching the ‘Sam Suds and the case of PVC’ video on the Campaign for Safe, Healthy Consumer Product’s site. It’s even okay for kids to watch because it’s a cartoon and an entertaining and basic introduction to learning about PVC. Another great video that is timely with Earth Day quickly approaching is The Story About Stuff. It’s only 20 minutes and Annie Leonard exposes the connections between environmental and social issues and will forever change the way you view ‘the stuff’ in your life.

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Back-To-School Lunch Box Tips

Wow – a surprising week when the FDA decides to ignore their country’s best scientists and what other Countries (Canada being one) have agreed that the chemical BPA should be declared ‘dangerous’ to use in the production of baby bottles and children’s products. Food and Drug Administration scientists said the trace amounts of bisphenol A that leach out of food containers are not a threat to infants or adults. The agency acknowledged that more research is needed to fully understand the chemical’s effects on humans, and noted “there are always uncertainties associated with safety decisions.” I’ll say it again….WOW.

For parents and back-to-school consumers that are concerned and educated about plasticizers and chemicals that may be lurking in products used by children, here is a timely report on Back To School Lunch Boxes 101 from:
SFKids.org, Laure Latham

These tips about lead, PVC-free, vinyl-free, and phthalate-free lunch labels surrounding your child’s lunch box/bag is extra timely for Mommy Footprint readers because alternatives to traditional lunch kits will be the upcoming prizes for our back-to-school contests. Stay tuned for details – you don’t want to miss out on these contests!

Back to School: Lunch Boxes 101
Six things you’ll want to think about when it comes to lunch:

• Check for “lead safe” or even better “lead free” labels.

• Check for “PVC-free”, “Vinyl-free” or “phthalates-free” labels.

• If you find none of the above, avoid soft vinyl bags and avoid bags with additional chemicals such as anti-bacterial claims (Microban is one of them).

• If your chosen bag offers no labels, store or wrap all your child’s food individually to avoid contact with the interior lining. Remind your kids to wash their hands before and after lunch.

• To reduce waste, choose re-usable containers and use your own silverware and napkins.

• Don’t refill disposable water bottles. The best choice are stainless steel reusable water bottles.

More details on these nasty chemicals?  Read on… Continue Reading →

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