Tag Archives | PVC-free

Soft Plastic Toys Labelled Phthalate Free

This is a short post, but I’m hopeful to make a BIG point. I’m not a scientist, expert, or engineer, but I have researched PVC for a few years now and I swear I’m as confused today as 3 years ago. But I’m having a moment of clarity thanks to the Greenpeace website and want to share before my clarity is gone. I’ve long struggled with the fact I gave my boys soft plastic toys to play with in the bathtub and worse…I gave these same toys to my girls when their teething was really bad. Where did I get them from? I written about this before – the gift shop from my city’s aquarium. Did I assume they were anything other than dollar store type toys for them to play with? No, but my boys loved the shark, dolphin, sea life designs and I thought they’d make awesome bath toys. Well fast forward a couple of years and I get upset because I realize they soft plastic toys were toxic. Not just a little toxic, but made with PVC plastic that leach phthalates. To hear the history behind all this – you can read this post.

Well – two years later, today actually, I visit my local aquarium again with my beautiful kids. They have really made some great changes with carrying Under The Nile (organic cotton) toys, etc. but I notice those damn plastic toys again. You know the kind…the soft plastic dolphin that squeaks when you squeeze it. But now the package has a sticker on it labeled ‘phthalate free’.  I guess with phthalates being the next new buzz word among green parents (next to BPA) that enough would be said. Although I’m still confused. The price on these toys is still inexpensive, the toy is made from bendy plastic, but they are phthalate free?  Here is what I’m going to say.  Unless a soft plastic toy ~ that may end up in a child’s mouth or bathtub is labeled PVC-free, don’t buy it. If a toy is produced from PVC – it doesn’t matter if it’s phthalate-free, an additive (chemical) has been added to soften it otherwise it would be brittle/hard plastic. Just as dangerous because phthalates are just one class of chemicals. I’m sure I’ll get a call from the aquarium telling me that the toy is PVC-free.  I say prove it first. If a company is going through all the expense to not use PVC – they would market that fact and tag the product as such. I’m done wasting my time trying to contact manufacturers and big box stores (hello Toys R Us!) to ask them if they use PVC in the products they sell.  I know they do and they know they do.   Now here is the quote that gave me clarity.  Thank you Greenpeace!!

The emerging science on the hazards of plasticizers used in soft PVC products provides substantive evidence that soft PVC presents unacceptable risks during use. Additives, such as plasticizers and stabilizers, are a necessary component of all PVC formulations. Without these additives, PVC is brittle, degrades easily, and is unversatile. Softeners are not chemically bound to the PVC polymer, but rather float around the polymer, like water in a sponge, giving the plastic the flexibility required. As a result, it is evident that plasticizers used in PVC will leach, volatilize, or migrate from a product over time. This has long been recognized by the PVC industry itself. Pressure on a PVC product will increase leaching substantially. Of most concern is the leaching of plasticizers resulting from sucking or chewing on soft PVC toys, representing a direct bodily dose of these chemicals to the infant or child.

Read more of this article here. Greenpeace has excellent information on PVC and phthalates – I’m very grateful for their research. Seriously – why isn’t the government mandating that any stores selling PVC products to children be closed?  Doing phase out strategies is not working….toys are just being shuffled around to countries that are/aren’t regulating it. We are North America for god’s sake!  This shouldn’t be another problem parents need to educate themselves with.  Uh oh…rant coming on. I’ll stop and just encourage you to push and ask questions. Let’s get to the bottom of what plastic surrounds our children and finally get PVC away from them!

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Challenging Your Neighbourhood Grocery Store

It’s Canadian Thanksgiving weekend and many parents are busy shopping for tasty dinner ideas. Lucky for me I’m attending, rather than hosting this year but listening to friends talk about shopping and prep work got me thinking about local neighbourhood grocery stores. Most communities are littered with small grocers that serve an invaluable purpose as they offer specialized items and provide high end alternatives, including organic, but these stores could also use some improvements. I’ve often said the change for any retail store will not come the first time you ask for change. It won’t happen the 2nd, or 3rd time either. But imagine a Produce Manage or butcher that receives the same suggestions multiple times per day?  How could it not ignite change?  Here’s a challenge and I’ll be approaching my own local store as well and will publish the results.  What sorts of things can you request that would improve human health and the environment? Read these suggestions:

Sell Re-usable Produce Bags

I think most grocery stores sell cloth shopping bags at check-out in case customers forget to bring our own – but what about produce bags?  I often forget to bring my reusable produce bags shopping because I make unscheduled grocery stops. The solution is a grocer that sells Carebags. I have tested these bags and think they are amazing! The key with producing a great reusable produce bag is they need to be thick enough to protect produce from touching the scale or turnbelt at the store, but thin enough so they don’t add extra weight when you’re checking out your product..so you’re not paying extra for your food. Carebags are affordable, easy to clean, and offer a great size 9″x11″. You can purchase these bags directly at the Carebags site or ask your local grocery store to sell them. Then when you forget your produce bags – you can pick up more bags rather than using cheap, non-recyclable, PVC and phthalate leaching plastic bags. Picture below from the Carebags site:

PVC-free Plastic

While we’re on the topic of PVC-free, the topic of PVC-free plastic wrap would be a great suggestion for your grocer. Small stores are always wrapping cut fruit (1/2 watermelons, packaged corn on the cob, etc.) with cling wrap. Not only produce, but all salmon and meat packed at the in-store butcher is covered in plastic wrap. Like most little ‘extras’ I would bet the plastic wrap is made from the cheapest bulk plastic wrap the store could find because they use large amounts of it. Ask your local produce manager and butcher to start using PVC-free plastic wrap and to replace the styrofoam clam shells that the meat is sold and wrapped on.

Locally Sourced Food

Have you seen the documentary Food Inc.? Watch the trailer and you’ll be hooked. Just hearing a farmer admit “If you can grow a chicken in 49 days, why would you want one you have to grow in 3 months?” It is a must-see documentary, life changing and it will change how you shop for and view your food. A bonus for me personally was it didn’t totally gross me out. I was expecting to see animals being tortured and it wouldn’t take much for me to stop eating meat all together. Well, I highly recommend watching Food Inc. and you will come away feeling empowered to make better choices with your food. The biggest thing I learned was to start sourcing my meat locally. I am trying to purchase chicken and beef at a local farm that meets a healthy criteria for meat production. What does this mean for my local grocer? I’m not buying meat from them. But that point is worth mentioning to them because if I can source my meat through a local distributor – why can’t they?

Produce Stickers

Everyone curses the dreaded little stickers that come on produce. I’ve found up to three stickers on 1 organic apple before..it’s not only annoying, but the glue attaching these stickers is rubbing off on your food. Unless the grocer is making a concentrated effort to purchase labels that are biodegradable – can they not just skip putting these labels directly onto our food? I would think the checkout person knows the difference between the types of produce available. Ask that these stickers not be put directly on our food (touching the skin) to save on ingesting glue. I was researching this topic because I remember reading a blog article about the glue used on these stickers being toxic (can’t find the article to reference this fact) but I came across gardening blogs that talked about the only recognized thing in their composter after everything else dissipated was the stickers from apples. Makes you wonder exactly what they are made from, printed with (ink), and attached with (glue).

Locally Sourced Trinkets

It seems weird to make gift type purchases at a grocery store…but when you’re heading out to a friend’s house and want to grab a quick hostess gift, it would be great for the store to not carry imported crap. A local grocer should support local artisans and locally made cards and gifts. It just feels good to source and purchase locally made gifts.

Ask Parents What They Want

I would think a local, small grocer would sell items that are used daily – stuff families are always running out of. Examples of this? Laundry soap, milk, bread. My husband is constantly getting the phone call on his way home to pickup the same items because we go through so much with our 4 children. A local grocery should be aware of this and stock healthy alternatives in these items. Don’t just carry regular laundry soap or dryer sheets. Why? Because every family I know has someone sensitive to fragrance and the phthalates traditional companies contain. Why not stock soap nuts, wool dryer balls, or more organic solutions that are convenient and eco-friendly. Don’t know what parents want? Ask them! Hold a contest or simply ask people by walking around your store and find out what items a parent would like a healthier alternative. Parents are great for helping source great products because we have become advocates for our children’s wellness.

Helpful Links

For all you readers that participate in social media, here are some related links and companies to follow:

Carebags Twitter ID @Carebags
Carebags Facebook Fan Page

Soapnuts Twitter ID @buysoapnuts

BaaLLS Twitter ID Get BaLLS

Mommy Footprint: PVC Plastic ~ The poison Plastic In Your Home

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One-Of-A-Kind Mother’s Day

When I first saw the hand painted notebooks from local artist April Lacheur I instantly knew what my Mother’s Day pick would be.  These days, who can resist an affordable, one-of-a-kind, unique, hand painted, and locally supported artist and beautiful mother’s day gift?  Certainly I can’t, and when you check out her amazing portfolio (right down to her signature tree trunks) you’ll understand my excitement. And for those Mommy Footprint readers that aren’t local to my West Coast roots, April has done her sourcing of the notebooks locally so if you are ordering them from another Province or State, she’s already looked after keeping the footprint light.

First a small glimmer into the product that caught my eye and inspired me to write about these notebooks.  Most of you know I’m a very practical person and I think the price point for these usable and unique pieces of art is great!  The journals come lined or un-lined and can be found here on April’s site and were sourced at Those Great Little Books that have a very cool and eco story all on their own! Read the story about Sandy’s Book and you’ll quickly understand the very cool things this company can do with notebook design and creativity! Back to April – check out these amazing functional (and original) journal covers with her lovely hand painted designs.  Just a perfect gift for a busy mom who would love the first page to be filled with notes from her husband or children about why she is special.

While you are on April’s site you might also notice her hand painted totes – another great gift idea(PVC-free) for mom this year with another great price point under $30.

It’s also very cool to watch the evolution of April’s paintings. Her latest from her Facebook updates is just wonderful and fills me with happiness. This is what the West Coast has looked like over the past few weeks with the beautiful cherry blossoms…combined with the whimsical tree trunks that are truly April’s signature:

My thanks to April for the earthy inspiration and for helping us learn that words like local, hand crafted, hand painted, and unique don’t have to be translated into the word expensive.

Related Articles:

Earthy Mother’s Day Ideas

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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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Less Is More Theory and Experiment

I’ve noticed with interest that dollar stores in my community are going out of business.  You would think in this economy where people are trying to save money that the dollar store business would be going strong.  Could it be that consumers, especially parents, are realizing that less is more?  I believe so.  Back-to-basics, sustainability, quality, craftsmanship, safety are words that parents are willing to pay more for.

From toys, to beauty products, and even our produce ~ I would rather buy organic, pesticide-free for my children.  Shopping in smaller amounts, rather than filling up my cart, without thinking through what I’ll truly need to use.  There has been much buzz about pesticides to avoid with food and mainstream press is starting to write about how toxic most personal care products are.  From organic food, to organic shampoo/soap, to safe toys made from natural or stringently tested materials come at a higher cost.  As a parent, I’m willing to pay a few extra dollars for products I know are coming from business that care and source products with the safely of my children at the forefront.  Most bios from mompreneurs include the fact they were deeply unsatisfied with answers, product selection and product knowledge from traditional stores.  I challenge anyone reading this to an experiment we’ll call the ‘Less-Is-More Theory’.  Walk into your local department store and ask the store clerk or manager questions about their toys, bath toys, personal care products, produce, water bottles, etc.  I myself started doing this when I noticed most store chains have started branding their store label on stainless steel water bottles; Old Nay, The Bay, London Drugs, Superstore, even Dollar Stores.  Not one of these retailers could tell me anything about their store branded stainless steel water bottles.  They had no idea what stainless steel grade they were or that there were different steel grades out there.  I hear about dollar stores that simply ‘dip’ the outside of water bottles to coat god-knows-what material underneath.  I’m not saying these retail stores are doing this, but from a quality issue, I’d like to know more about the grade I’m purchasing so I know how to care for it.  If you are nervous about purchasing bath products (personal care or toys), food or water containers, or plastic toys and the store cannot answer simple questions I would not purchase them.  Here are some basics that they should be able to answer:

What grade of stainless steel is this?
What type of plastic is this made from? Where is it manufactured?
Does this product contain phthalates, parabens, fragrance, BPA?
Is this toy (bath or not) PVC free?
What pesticide is used on this produce item?

If the person cannot answer your questions ~ don’t buy it.  Now finish this challenge.  Contact any of the store owners from this list of businesses and ask them the same questions.  I would bet a lot of money, they can answer your question, plus give you more than you expected:

Green Planet Parties
Healthy Kitchenware
H2Ox2
Kai Kids
Natural Pod
Nayla Natural Care
The Tickle Trunk

The list goes on, but you start here and receive top notch customer service and product knowledge.  You will never think again that getting Dollar Store bargains for these types of products is a good idea.  Dollar store priced stores have their place for certain types of products in my opinion; however, the health of your family is not an area they where they specialize and no price tag can be put on the future health of your children.

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