Tag Archives | toxic products

Abeego Flats – Natural Alternative To Plastic Wrap

I can eliminate one toxic product from my kitchen now that I’ve tested Abeego Flats. What is the item I’ll be eliminating since I know it leeches chemicals directly into my food?  That would be plastic wrap.  I don’t use it for much anymore but I hadn’t found a way to seal my brick of cheese (even though it makes me cringe), to cover plates with leftover food in bowls, and cut fruit (like melons) that need a cover to stay fresh. What are Abeego Flats?  They are Eco food packaging sold in squares made from hemp/cotton fabric infused with beeswax and plant extracts.  You can smell and feel the beeswax on this product and it’s glorious. How does it look on a brick of cheese?  Check out the picture from the Abeego fan page and I’ve included it because my brick of cheese looks just like this! It’s so much better than using plastic food wrap that should never directly touch food.

The rectangle in the above picture is what your brick of cheese will look like after it’s removed from the plastic packaging and replaced with Abeego. You just re-wrap it after each use. It’s long been my peeve that the texture of my cheese is glossy on the parts that rub against the soft plastic it’s purchased in – I actually cut off the outside because I’m convinced the plastic has leeched into the cheese because the texture has been altered…spongy rather than firm like the rest of the cheese. So I’m pretty excited that these Abeego Flats actually work!  It could have easily been a disappointment – looking too good to believe, but I’ve watched this company develop over the last few years and I’m very happy with the results. Being able to replace more of the places in my kitchen where I use plastic wrap is awesome. It honestly makes me feel like a pioneer from many years ago – like I’m using a secret, old school method of food storage. I’m sure before the revolution of plastic, people used cloth to keep food fresh and the few seconds longer it take me to cover food with Abeego gives me a feeling of pride.  I really, really, really dislike PVC and don’t understand how it’s legal for companies to put it in products we use – especially with our food and products our children are in contact with.  PVC is known as the ‘poison’ plastic and I’m very happy to have this very ‘green’ product to replace PVC or plastic containing phthalates or plasticizers directly touching my food.  Isn’t the below example of covering food beautiful?

To place an Abeego flat around a bowl like the examples above, you just pinch around the edge of the bowl and you’ll feel the beeswax mold around the dish. Please understand that Abeego can replace plastic wrap – but doesn’t necessarily apply to dishes the exact same as plastic wrap.  Like most toxic products – plastic wrap was introduced and marketed to moms promising to make their life easier and more efficient. The act of applying cling wrap is very quick and if the plastic wrap you use is super clingy  – that means there’s lots of chemicals that have been applied to the wrap. These chemicals are toxic to human health.  The Abeego flats take a few extra seconds to use and the seal won’t feel the exact same. But – the desired affect of keeping food fresh does work. I used my Abeego flat on one huge brick of cheese for weeks and it stayed more fresh than using cling wrap. I also used it to wrap cut fruit and have replaced it completely with keeping left-over plates or sauce fresh in my fridge.

Would I buy more of these flats?   Yes.  I don’t know how long they’ll last for – I’ve been using mine for over a month and they are still in great shape.  Funny enough you wash them in cold water in order for them to bounce back into their original shape before using them again.  Would I recommend giving them to a person who loves plastic, has no idea that wrapping food in plastic is a bad thing and loves Saran Wrap?  No. This special product needs to be purchased or given to a person on the road to a greener path. I think most moms are trying to reduce the amount of plastic in their life and know soft plastic should not directly touch food and would love this item.  I haven’t tried Abeego’s sandwich wraps or snack holders but I will because I love the scent, texture and concept of the Abeego line. The below picture is of an Abeego Wrap – perfect size for a sandwich to eliminate a plastic bag.

And while this last note is a little off-topic – I had the pleasure of meeting Abeego owner Toni at a local craft show. I’m normally not a fan of business cards – I think in our world of social media that they are a waste of money and resources. Well I looked down at Toni’s business cards for Abeego and noticed they were made from a tiny square of fabric sealed in beeswax.  I took this unique card and still have it in my kitchen cupboard.  I love the scent of beeswax and I think it’s so cool she infused her logo into this material.

Related articles:

A Plastic Rant

PVC Items In Your Every-Day Life

PVC Plastic ~ The Poison Plastic In Your Home

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What You Don’t Know About Plastic Toys Made From PVC

I’ve had an epiphany of sorts over the last few months at Mommy Footprint. The last time I experienced this, I was listening to a dietitian named Jen talk ~ things started clicking together and I made changes. My sudden insight of late comes after many hours reading what the experts at EWG have to say, watching the Disappearing Male documentary, and getting many opinions from moms I trust that are focused on non-toxic households. It’s a feeling that actually saddens me because anyone that knows me is aware I love toys. Not at a normal level ~ I enjoy buying them more than my kids enjoy receiving them. I really thought this made me a good mom.

When my Mommy Footprint journey began, many things changed in our household. I began to experience a new awakening of the environment and also an understanding that I need to check products for myself before trusting that big name companies were watching out for my children. Because of financial reasons and having a house that is filled with too much ‘stuff’ I’ve been scaling back for the better part of 11 months and feel quite ashamed of my access in the last 6 years of being a parent. I’ve also realized that many things in my house are indeed toxic; cleaning supplies, personal care products, and toys. My focus with this article is toys and the important lesson for consumers that purchase toys for small children.

There is so much confusion with the terms PVC, phthalates, plasticizers, types of plastic, etc., it still has me scratching my head at times. There are a few things I’ve learned and it would have altered the course of my parenting had I known that most soft plastic toys are toxic. If you knew that a child simply mouthing a PVC plastic toy could be compared to a child sucking chemicals from a sponge wouldn’t you call poison control and find out what the effects were? Well the European Union really had a grasp of this problem back in the 1990’s and banned a lot of products that continue to be sold in Canada and the US ~ why? In 1997 Austria, France, Greece, Mexico, Norway, and Sweden all banned phthalates (one of the most common chemicals used to make plastic soft) from being used in toys.  Why is North America so much slower to react?

PVC is one of the most widely used forms of plastic, but it’s known as a human carcinogen. What would possess a toy manufacturer to use it in toys? We know that during the processing of PVC, dioxins, one of the most toxic chemicals known are created and released. Over the course of it’s lifetime, PVC plastic leaks harmful additives and because it’s not recyclable, PVC ends up being burned or sits in a landfill. Burning this plastic is very harmful because dioxins are further released (air pollution), so it most likely ends up sitting in the landfill where it further pollutes our soil.

So I’ve written about soft plastic toys previously because my children have all mouthed and bathed with soft plastic toys their entire lives. What do I know about these toys to date? The chemicals used to make these toys soft pose potential health problems with mainly reproduction and cancer. That’s not a good feeling. I’ve spoken with toy manufacturers and taking the first step would be researching toys that are ‘phthalate free’. But ~ I would go one step further and purchase PVC free toys. If you are purchasing a tubby toy or teething toy, there should not be PVC plastic anywhere near it. I’ve spent a lot of time looking at sites for non-toxic bath toys (because all my children love playing in the tub) and in all my research, I’ve managed to find only 2 brands/products I would feel 100% comfortable with: Green Toys and Boon.

Another product line I’ve talked about in the past that has been a savior with my kids is Green Toys. I can’t tell you the peace of mind I have when I watch my twins (every night) have a tea party with their Green Toys tea set. Made from recycled Becel containers, I’ve been able to rest assured that chemicals aren’t leeching from the cups, spoons, saucers, and tea pot they play with every night. My best purchase to date for my girls and they’ve just turned three!

I’ve struggled of late with plastic. You think you’ve got your mind wrapped around BPA, phthalates, PVC. etc., then something new comes along and it’s overwhelming. I wish I could zap myself back in time and change many things with my children. Understanding more about toxic products would have really helped me. I’m trying not to be really angry when I read articles published by Greenpeace about the danger of PVC and toys back in 1999. I join their fight against toxic, environmentally destructive, and dangerous toys 10 years later, where I feel like nothing has really changed. I’ve even learned that PVC hard plastic exists with many toys and wonder if Barbie is still made from PVC, like the Greenpeace website confirms. She turned 50 this year ~ I wonder if the manufactures know that there are now alternatives to traditional plastic, like corn or natural rubber.

** Side note to this article ** I did call the Vancouver Aquarium because I wanted to know how their soft PVC plastic toys were produced because of my concerns about phthalates and toxic tubby toys. The manager told me that as of Sept/08, they confirmed that their soft plastic toys were made phthalate free. This made me feel better until my friend posed the question ~ what chemical plasticizers did they use to get the PVC plastic soft? It’s just so true, they have to put some sort of checimal into hard plastic to make it soft, so my advice would be to by-pass all PVC products and stick to non-toxic alternatives.

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Quick Reference Guide When Shopping For Personal Care Products

When you’re out shopping and trying to remember what products are safely recommended or what ingredients are best to avoid, all while the kids are acting up in the cart…it starts feeling impossible to start reading through confusing ingredient lists.  Well the kind folks at EWG (Environmental Working Group) have produced a printable wallet card listing ingredients to avoid while shopping for cosmetics and personal care products so you have something to quickly refresh your memory.  I printed off something similar in the summer when searching for non-toxic sunscreens for my kids and found it very handy!

I also found this list of products to avoid very interesting from the EWG site..hmmmm off to check if my liquid hand soap contains triclosan…

Cosmetic products to avoid:
• Anti-aging creams with lactic, glycolic, AHA and BHA acids
• Hair dyes with ammonia, peroxide, p-phenylenediamine, diaminobenzene, and all dark permanent hair dyes
• Liquid hand soaps with Triclosan, aka Antibacterial hand soaps
• Nail polish & removers with fermaldehyde
• Skin lighteners with hydraquinone

I just checked my liquid Softsoap (common brand of liquid hand soap) and although it doesn’t contain Triclosan, it does contain an ingredient on the ‘naughty’ list: DMDM Hydantoin.  This ingredient is listed on EWG as a toxic contaminant.  To think I started the de-tox of toxic household products 8 months ago to discover stuff like this is very frustrating.  Makes me realize I haven’t even scratched the surface.  You can’t trust the big names in the beauty industry since my Softsoap is manufactured by Colgate-Palmolive.  The only name bigger than these two companies is Johnson & Johnson and many of their personal care products for babies contain phthalates and chemicals.  Yuck!

One large store that is North American, UK wide that I’m really impressed with is Whole Foods.  I’ve heard they conduct secondary testing of products they carry.  This means they do not just trust what companies tell them blindly so they run testing in-house.  They also have a list published on their site of unacceptable body care ingredients.  It’s great to know that every ingredient the Environmental Working Group listed on their printable wallet card is included in this ‘unacceptable’ list from Whole Foods.  They can’t guarantee that none of their products will contain these ingredients, but at least they’ve publicly announced that they are taking ever effort to source products not containing them.  To view the ingredients on this list, click here.  Hmmm I see a large forum on the Whole Foods site too.  Hard to find forums talking about natural topics…might be worth checking out.  For a list of Whole Foods locations, click here.

We all know I’m a big fan of EWG, but it’s nice to see there are other companies looking out for our health by carrying natural products, minus the chemicals. One Mommy Footprint reader recently told me that Whole Foods carries their own line (365 Everyday Value brand) and the prices are very reasonable. (Thanks Sabrina!) Shopping for natural products no longer needs to break the bank!  

January will be the month of talking about ways to rid your home of toxic products and link to places to find healthy alternatives here at Mommy Footprint.  Next up is natural nail polish….I’ve been looking to paint my twin’s nails since the summer and I’ve finally found a safe, biodegradable brand!  Stay tuned.

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Home Made & Eco Friendly Cleaning Solutions

A great question arrived recently via ‘Ask Suzanne’.  Here is a snippet:

“My kids love helping me clean the house, but I usually tell them that I am happy for their help but I don’t want them handling all those yucky cleaning products.  Do you know any good recipes for home made, eco and kid friendly cleaning solutions?”

I could not agree more.  I would love to hand my kids a rag when they follow me around wanting to help clean, but I don’t want them inhaling toxic products.  We all probably know the most common home made cleaning product – vinegar, but I’ve also included recipes that include baking soda, lemon juice, olive oil, and rubbing alcohol.  If anyone has other home made cleaning recipes that are favorites, please post them using the ‘comment’ feature.

I’m giddy after researching this question, because I had no idea vinegar has so many different uses.  I had no idea you can use it to kill weeds!  The front of my house is in need of a dandelion bombing, but I didn’t want to use toxic weed poison so this information is timely!  I’ll just fill up some squirt bottles with vinegar and let my boys have target practice….another eco friendly kid’s project.  Here are some other uses for vinegar:

Glass/window cleaner.  Mix 2 teaspoons white vinegar with 1 litre warm water to clean glass.  Use a soft cloth or crumbled newspaper to clean.  

Ant Repellent.  If you’re looking for an ant deterrent, white distilled vinegar is a natural product for this purpose when used to wipe counter tops, cabinets and floors.

Stainless steel appliance cleaner.  Apply vinegar to shammy or soft cloth and apply.

Fabric Softener.  Vinegar works great as a fabric softener substitute because it cuts detergent residue.  Add 1 cup of undiluted white vinegar in the rinse cycle – this is a good tip if you have a person with sensitive skin in your family.

Vinegar works as a deodorizer.  1 cup of apple vinegar set in a glass in the fridge will remove smells in 2 days.  Boil 1/4 cup white vinegar and mix with 1 cup water in the microwave and use to loosen food and it will deodorize at the same time.

White vinegar can be used to clean soap residue, bathtub film,  and toilet bowl stains.  3 cups of white distilled vinegar will deodorize your toilet if left for 1/2 hour.  Here is a recipe for toilet bowl cleaner:

Mix 1/4 cup baking soda and 1 cup vinegar.
Pour into bowl and let sit for a few minutes. Scrub.

This has nothing to do with cleaning, but I thought this was brilliant!  Apparently vinegar can fix a worn DVD that has begun to skip or suffers from freeze-frame (seriously!).  You apply vinegar to a soft cloth and wipe the DVD, ensure it’s dry, then insert into DVD player.  Good god, could it be this easy?  This one I’ll be trying tomorrow…stay tuned.

Baking soda is another commonly used home made cleaning product.  Get your child to sit on your kitchen floor, give him/her cups of vinegar and a box of baking soda.  They will believe they are mixing a ‘magic potion’ because of the fizzle/mild explosion effect.  The bigger the mess, the better, because you can clean your floors with the spills after play time is over.  Angelo washed his pennies doing little potions for over an hour last week.  It was a great way for him to pass the time and it forced mommy to wash the floors. Continue Reading →

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