Archive | Non-stick Information

Should My Family Be Using Silicone?

When food and products are put on the market without real testing, it’s up to parents and consumers to complete their own. Yes, silicone was FDA approved in 1979 but we are unsure if there’s been follow-up since as it’s really evolved as a ‘go-to’ material in recent years. Silicone is widely used in bake-ware, dishware, and freezer molds and the fun colors and price point have helped increase it’s popularity in family kitchens all across North America. There are many stores that promote and market silicone as a wonderful sustainable option… so is it?

The problem with using silicone to manufacture products is that it doesn’t have an end of life (EOL). The strategy of how to properly dispose or recycle silicone wasn’t implemented with the wide roll-out of silicone products. I called the largest recycling depots in the greenest cities I could think of across North America, I could not find one that recycles silicone. So when you market a product as waste-free, but it ends up in the trash, then landfill, is it sustainable? So the environmental effects of the silicone revolution in my opinion are not the best.

What about health effects? My research of silicone started from the fear it could possibility be leaching when heated at high temps or put in the freezer. For parents of pre-teens and older, we remember the recalls, uproar, and frustration when we discovered all plastics weren’t created equal. It turns out there are different types of silicone, but unlike plastic, silicone isn’t labelled or coded with symbols because there is no point to it having recycling codes.  To keep it brief, the type of silicone you want to be using is called platinum rather than tin based which are usually cheaper (price and quality), not suitable for skin contact, and cured pieces have a shorter life as they loose their elasticity.  Here are the benefits of platinum silicone:

– platinum is added as a catalyst and there are no by-products

– little shrinkage, high chemical resistance (dimensional stability)

– high resistance to high temperatures and aging

– environmental odorless and non-toxic

Silicone itself is a rubber material composed of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. With the different ways to form silicone, the difference is if fillers have been added to change properties and reduce cost. Many experts say if you twist your coloured silicone and see white bending than the silicone you are using contains fillers and is the cheaper quality (tin) silicone.  But if you are using silicone in the kitchen, especially heating it at high temps (microwave, dishwasher) or freezing (making ice or popsicles) it’s important to talk to the manufacturer and ask what type of silicone they’ve used to make the product. If they have NO idea, ask how the silicone is cured in the manufacturing process. The options I found for this process are : platinum-catalyzed cure system (or called an addition system), a condensation cure system (also called tin based cure system), a peroxide cure system (medical products produced from this system), or an oxime cure system.

Experts have been concerned that the process of adding colour to silicone might disrupt inert properties of the polymers, but manufacturers I’ve talked with that have tested for any breakdown from adding colour say that is incorrect. If this concerns you, stick to plain silicone commonly used to keep stainless steel or glass containers air-tight.

I hope this helps you answer the question “should my family be using silicone?” To summarize, if you are concerned about what happens to that silicone ice cube tray after it starts to smell or breakdown, you can not recycle silicone in most recycling depots in North America. There isn’t research to support how long silicone takes to decompose in a landfill. It’s a natural element made from sand and rock, but if containing fillers and colorants – I would assume these are a problem for the earth to absorb.

It also appears that similar to plastic, there are different types of silicone. It’s unfortunate for consumers that our Governments don’t mandate these types be coded at the bottom of all products. If you love using your silicone bake-ware, etc., take the time to call the manufacturer and inquire about what type of silicone is used. You are looking for the word platinum for a higher quality. Also, ask what the manufacturer is doing to close the loop of the end-of-life for silicone with recycling efforts.





Kids Deserve A Healthy Start In Life

This article is a guest post by Maggie MacDonald, toxics program manager at Environmental Defence. If this is your first introduction to Environmental Defence, they are an organization that inspires a greener and healthier life with government, business and people. They are doing great work on studying human body burden pollution and more research is demonstrating how widespread the issue is. Please watch the below video and read Maggie’s post to bring attention to the problem that our children are being born pre-polluted.

A pregnant mother often wonders “Will my baby have my eyes? Her father’s nose?” But she probably doesn’t think too much about whether her baby will be born with her grandmother’s DDT or PCBs. Nor should she have to.

But our new report, Pre-Polluted: A Report on Toxic Substances in the Umbilical Cord Blood of Canadian Newborns, shows that even in the mothers’ womb, the developing fetus is exposed to a slew of dangerous chemicals – chemicals that might have health effects like cancer, lower IQ or thyroid problems later in life. We cannot see with the naked eye that Canadian children are born pre-polluted, but our latest results demonstrate just that.

Environmental Defence tested the umbilical cord blood of three newborn babies from the GTA and Hamilton, and found each child was born with 55 to 121 toxic compounds and possible cancer-causing chemicals in their bodies.  We tested for, and found at low levels, PBDEs (flame retardants), PCBs, PFCs, Organochlorine pesticides, dioxins and furans and mercury and lead – chemicals that are pervasive and persistent in our environment. Of the 137 chemicals found in the umbilical cord blood, 132 are reported to cause cancer in humans or animals.

All Canadians have a right to live in a clean, healthy environment. If evidence that babies – who are especially vulnerable – are burdened with a toxic chemical load before they are born is not enough to signal a change must be made, we don’t know what is.

Moms: it’s not your fault. When it comes to reducing toxic pollution, government, industry, and the public all have a role to play. When scientists and government agree that a substance is toxic to human health, it must be phased out as soon as possible. Currently, chemicals like certain PBDE flame retardants can still be contained in imported furniture, despite plans for prohibitions having been announced by the federal government several years ago. Industry often takes action before bans are announced, but there are many chemicals still in products that businesses should stop using, like phthalates and PFCs (non stick coating chemicals). The public can make a difference by refusing to buy products that contain toxic “chemicals of convenience” and by letting decision makers in government and business know that it’s time for a change.

There are also things you can do at home to reduce your exposure. Simply mopping or wiping down furniture and floors to rid your home of dust can have a positive impact. Many toxic substances are persistent and can lurk in dust, even long after being banned! You can help reduce the amount of hormone-disrupting flame retardants, DDT, and PFCs in your home by wiping away the dust bunnies.

Environmental Defence is asking the federal government to move towards improving chemical regulation in Canada, to protect the health of all Canadians. We’re asking companies to proactively remove toxic chemicals from their products ahead of government plans to phase them out.

You can help too! Read the report to learn more, take action by signing the petition, and keep visiting Environmental Defence to find out more about how you can get involved.

All Canadians live downstream of the history of our industrial society. Let’s make sure that stream is clean, for our children and future generations.




Limit Food Packaging – Make Your Granola Bars

Sometimes saying words out loud and not in your head gives them more merit or purpose – for me anyway. Talking with a friend today I was reminded of something that will help you make healthier shopping choices with meal planning for back to school. We know that what isn’t good for the environment is also bad for human health right? Well anything you buy that gives you convenience is also not the best for human health. Think back among the years of materials that have bought us time and convenience: telfon, non-stick, plastic, drive-thrus, etc. What first appeared (and was marketed) as an amazing time saver has become toxic for our families! This is why so many green bloggers are talking about packing litterless lunches with back-to-school. Not just because many of the litterless lunch systems are made from stainless steel, but it encourages parents to limit packaging surrounding children’s food which very quickly improves the quality of the nutrition, etc.

What are the biggest toxies I can think of? The two biggest culprits that come to mind are string cheese and yogurt tubes. Why? They have been packed into a bendy plastic that is loaded with plasticizers that are leaching into the food. These items are long gone in our fridge but with our busy schedule during the school year, I’m guilty of always having granola bars for my kids to snack on. Granola bar wrappers are not recyclable or compostable and this can be a red flag about the food inside the wrapper. Most granola bars are loaded with sugar, soy, artificial flavours/colors and contain preservatives so they can last on store shelves. I’ve been playing with different granola bar recipes over the summer and finally have a recipe that my kids LOVE. The homemade granola bars, unlike store bought are nut-free so appropriate to bring into schools with allergies and are more like a powerbar, packed with whole foods that are filling & heavy making them the perfect snack. My thanks to the site for the original recipe and I’ve incorporated some changes and love the results. I noticed in the comments that some parents even remove the 1 egg so it could be further modified to be sensitive to more allergies if necessary.

I now double the recipe every Sunday and the bars usually last until Thursday in this house. I plan to double this batch and make banana bread on Sundays each week to minimize feeling the need to buy store bought snacks. The fact that my very fussy 1st born loves these granola bars so much is very gratifying. It’s funny because my 2nd son was helping me make the bars and noticed me adding apple sauce. First thing he says to me is “don’t let Francesco see what you’re putting in these” since he knows his brother so well. It’s easier to trick even the fussiest of eaters with the different modifications and here’s how!


2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup wheat germ
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup all-purpose flour (I use half and half with whole wheat flour and all-purpose)
3/4 cup raisins (optional) (I use chocolate chips)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup honey
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup apple sauce


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Generously grease a 9×13 inch baking pan.
In a large bowl, mix together the oats, brown sugar, wheat germ, cinnamon, flour, chocolate chips and salt. Make a well in the center, and pour in the honey, egg, oil, vanilla, and apple sauce. Mix well using your hands. Pat the mixture evenly into the prepared pan.
Bake for 20-30 minutes in the preheated oven, until the bars begin to turn golden at the edges. Cool for 5 minutes, then cut into bars while still warm. Do not allow the bars to cool completely before cutting, or they will be too hard to cut.

I cut into square and leave in an air tight container on my counter. These bars are gone in days and fit into any size lunch container for lunch packing. Buy these ingredients in bulk if you don’t already have them – you’ll be making them a lot!



Going Forward From Earth Day – 5 Tips

We know I’m not one for keeping it short, but I figure I’ve expanded on posts dear to my heart already within the article so I’ll include the link if you’d like more information. I honestly believe that at this point we are all making conscience decisions in our everyday lives and maybe that’s why Earth Day felt a little less hyped this year. If that is the case – that is awesome. If you are new to the process of ‘greening’ your life, here are 5 tips that will help you. Also remember, anything that is harmful to the environment is also toxic to human health. So if you’re not quite ready to change your lifestyle or consumerism for the planet, think about making these changes to help your family live a longer and healthier life.  Here we go!

1) Vow to never again use the self cleaning option on your oven. This convenience based option is known to kill household pets. Non-stick surfaces combined with very high heat produces a terrible toxic off-gassing that is not healthy for your household. Read more here.

2) Take an hour and review your personal care products on the EWG Skin Deep Cosmetics Database. This is the best resource for identifying cosmetics, sunscreen, personal care products that might contain toxic ingredients. This is a valuable resource to check before you go shopping for that next bottle of shampoo or item for baby. With the number of options out there today, check out how your cosmetics score and switch over to non-toxic, organic products.

3) Think about your family’s fragrance. What does this mean? When you go out in public – is there any part of you that could cause a reaction to someone sensitive to synthetic scents? I get a reaction from people that use dryer sheets or fabric softener. Think about the synthetic scents you omit in public including perfumes, deodorants, household cleaners/air fresheners, and laundry routine. For more information click here.

4) Let the outdoors in! Did you know that the inside of your home is probably filled with more toxins that the outdoors? Ban all room deodorizers and simply open a window. Let the fresh air truly ‘freshen’ your home and eliminate odors. For more information click here.

5) Consumerism…this one’s important. It’s the biggest problem with the environment and the clutter taking over our homes. You need to think about every purchase you make. Where will it end up? Where was it manufactured? What is it made from? These are the questions we should ask every time we purchase that next Easter gift, birthday gift, clothing shop, etc. If nothing else, you asking these questions will promote change. I have personally witnessed this shift in consumerism mentality. I know parents love to ask “where is this product manufactured?” I know from asking hundreds of parents that they will pay more for having something made locally and supporting a local artist or toy maker. Let’s keep this shift in how we shop going and reach every industry and let them know it’s important. We want locally manufactured goods that are safe for our families. Period. It’s no longer acceptable to produce toxic toys overseas and have our children play and wear toxic chemicals. My hope is that by this day next year, Earth Day is only symbolic of what we incorporate into our lives everyday and that we ask ourselves these questions everyday.

I read an article by Lisa Frack from EWG that made me really think about Earth Day changes and wanted to share. For more information on changes you can make that will help your health and planet, read her article called If You’ve Done One Thing, You’ve Done Something. I for one will be looking into a water filter. I also have a few idea I’ll be implementing at my kid’s school that I’ll share. What about you?



Self Cleaning Ovens – Toxic For Humans or Only Birds?

A friend recently mentioned she was cleaning her oven using the self cleaning option on her machine and the terrible smell. Anyone that has used this feature knows what I’m talking about. I’ve only used it once – maybe 5 years ago and I had the worst reaction physically; my eyes went dry and itchy, throat burned, and I had a wicked headache for days.  I realize I’m more sensitive that most with how my body reacts to strong scent, but it reminded me to research this topic and the news isn’t great for you that love the convenience of this feature on their oven.

It’s very interesting the limited amount of information available on the topic of self cleaning ovens and just how toxic they are for human health. But (and it explains the title of this article) there is loads on the effects of what happens when pets (birds especially) are near a room with the oven using the self clean feature. Even the company DuPont (the creator of Teflon) acknowledges that hundreds of pet birds die each year.  Remember DuPont?  They are the creators of Teflon and other non-stick chemicals that have been poisoning their community in West Virginia for years.  Although they pay their employees well – the environmental destruction is significant and several law-suits have ensued from members of their community when their water system was contaminated and people working at the DuPont plant were suffering from significant health problems (asthma, birth defects, cancers, etc.). With all of the controversy surrounding DuPont, it really freaks me out when even they admit chemicals (PFOA) they still use, should be phased out by 2015. So here is the quote from a website dedicated to bird health who has summarized the self cleaning oven debate quite nicely…the site is called  Avian Web site and I quote:

Do not run the self-cleaning cycle on ovens when birds are around. Self-cleaning ovens are lined with PTFE (Teflon) and reach 900 degrees Fahrenheit during the self-cleaning cycle and emit gasses into the air that kill birds rather quickly.

Huh?  Self cleaning ovens are lined with Teflon?  We know what happens when Teflon is subjected to high heat (especially 900 degrees Fahrenheit) and the off-gassing is very toxic for humans.   While shopping today I popped into a department store to ask a sales rep her opinion on self cleaning ovens, Teflon, non-stick coatings, etc. The look I got was that I was speaking from another Planet. So my idea on this is even if you are told a non-stick coating is Teflon or PFC free – like your oven – always be cautious. I would recommend simply not using the self clean option on your oven.  Especially if you have babies, children, or pregnant people that might be exposed to the fumes.  Yes, you can ventilate your home, but if it’s one thing I’ve learned about the PFOA crowd of chemicals – they are bad friends that don’t go away easily. They are carcinogens and unlike our friends phthalates or PBA, they do not flush out of our systems quickly. They have a very long existence making them one of the worst offenders within man made chemicals to stay away from.

And just in case you are wondering how to clean your ovens naturally – I tried this incredibly simple and easy oven cleaner recipe from the Cleaning Naked site and what do you know? It worked on my oven that hasn’t had a deep clean in years. I let the baking soda sit for maybe 5 hours – didn’t even require the overnight recommendation in the directions.

I promise to talk more about Teflon this month. Until then, if you are using Perfluorochemicals chemicals: non-stick pans/pots, microwavable popcorn bags, clothing or furniture that repels stains are the best places to start phasing out this chemical from your life. Also stay clear of products with the ingredient starting with perfluoro. I sorted out my scratched Teflon frying pans and pots that I received as wedding gifts a few months ago and although eggs will never be easy again – I’m getting the hang of using my stainless steel frying pans.  The extra time is worth not serving up a portion of Teflon in family meals each day.


This article was submitted to the Frugal Days Sustainable Ways Blog Hop on April 17th, hosted by Frugally Sustainable.



Powered by WordPress. Designed by WooThemes