Archive | PVC Info

Back-to-School Eco Backpacks

I love back-to-school reviews and this article might be my favorite because I’m reviewing Ecogear packs which offer two types of back-to-school bags: cotton or long lasting nylon. I have a personal opinion on each, based from the fact we’ve been using four different designs from the Ecogear line of backpacks; larger design with our son heading into Grade 5, smaller Ecogear backpack for son heading into Grade 3, and cotton Panda design for my daughters starting Grade 1.

The largest of the Ecogear nylon backpacks are great for a child that can handle a bigger pack that will grow from mid- elementary to high school years. My oldest son has been using this backpack since Grade 3 and it just might be our favorite! The padded shoulders offer comfort, great quality zippers (they always seem to be the first thing to break) and lots of different compartments to store books, lunches, and water bottle holders on the outside of the pack. This model can be found with My Little Green Shop and it’s called the Bighorn Backpack. As I mentioned we’ve been using this backpack for the school year and summer hikes for 2 years and it’s still in great shape. I also machine washed it in cold water, delicate cycle, hang to dry and it washed up without any problems. So it’s in great shape to continue back to school with my oldest and I love it when I get years of use from an item. I really question how the cheap backpacks stand up and if they last for years?

We received a smaller Ecogear backpack for my 2nd son to review and it fits him perfectly, but he’s got a smaller frame than his older brother. I would recommend this size pack from Kindergarten until late elementary school age. It’s still got the same outdoor look that I love and it’s called Mohave Tui by Ecogear. Although they are manufactured overseas, the design and materials used in these backpacks are earth friendly for a nylon design. They do not use flame retardants and most importantly in the backpack world, they do not use PVC. We all know that PVC plastic is like poison to human health and the environment but did you also know by purchasing products not made with PVC that you’re avoiding lead?  If your backpack does not clearly state PVC-free and you’re only paying a few dollars for a backpack that smells with that yucky plastic scent… the backpack might contain lead which is a terrible chemical to surround a child with. This backpack also has the classic outdoorsy appearance that is awesome for all children, but the comfort of the padded straps and multiple pockets to store permission forms, money for field trips, lunch system, water bottles (very important that they are located on the outside of the pack in case of spills), and just a great fit for a smaller child’s build we are very happy with this backpack.

And now the most exciting discovery and I have to say GREAT sourcing by our friends at My Little Green Shop!  They brought in the Ecogear line called Panda which are backpacks made from naturally grown (not organic but pesticide free) cotton for the smaller age group made with nothing more than cotton, wooden latch, and non-toxic dyes in colors that keep both parents and children happy. Best part of these backpacks for me is I can compost them at the end of their life. Do I think they’ll last as long as the nylon packs?  Maybe not, but for the age group and cost of these packs ($22.95) you just can’t go wrong. They are sassy, organic looking, kid-friendly, and I just love sending them to school without a Princess, Dora, or cutesy design that they’ll outgrow by middle primary. My twin daughters are entering Grade 1 and while I know this age group still likes the young commercialized designs but shopping this way limits the life span of items you purchase. If you can get years of use out of a backpack – why wouldn’t you purchase a classic design? Another design component I love is that the water bottle holders are on the outside of all of these backpacks. It only takes one accident with a child not closing their water bottle properly and having in leak inside their backpack for parents to realize this feature is golden! And for some strange reason it’s a commonly missed feature on young children’s backpacks.  Not to worry with this design and check out the below picture of my girls wearing their new packs!  We put a stainless steel bottle in each pack, stainless steel lunch system, and a few books inside for this picture. They should last at least 3 years until the big homework year of Grade 4 starts!

Anything new I bring into our lives I try so hard to think about the life cycle of where the product will end up. Finding the Panda series of backpacks is like breathing a big sigh of relief knowing that when this product reaches the end of it’s life because of rips, etc., I can cut it into strips and include it with compost. Thank you to My Little Green Shop for always sourcing with this in mind!

Share
sig

0

Plastic Ocean Pollution

It’s easy to become enraged when you see pictures of marine life that have been maimed, killed, or caught in plastic or ocean debris. It  really puts a face to this huge problem but because the problem is so big – how can we help? This article is inspired from combing the ocean’s tidal pools with my own kids today and we noticed a lot more garbage at the shoreline. Finding multiple golf balls really reminded me that education is needed with our unprotected waters. We need to think about our oceans and remember to only put things from the ocean back into them – this doesn’t include sand toys, cigarette butts, water bottles, golf balls, etc. Not only is an item like golf balls made from rubber and a plastic exterior, there can be confusion for marine life once they start breaking down.  Here is what I saw today:

What can we do? Talk to you children about this epic problem. Show them pictures if you don’t live close to water. There are all ranges of images – select age appropriate pictures and educate children that single use items and plastic is a huge problem. Understanding consumerism and the importance of making better choices for things that enter our homes. I also find general awareness of this problem forces you to rethink lifestyles. I recently learned that cigarettes contain plastic. I had no idea!  Think of how many cigarette butts find their way into the ocean? The plastic soup of our single use lifestyle is really the turning point for so many environmental issues – the ocean is no different.

What can you start doing today that will help? Most important is limiting single use plastic disposable items from your life – once you start it doesn’t seem like such a huge undertaking. The best part is with this reduction you will be taking steps to improve not only the environment but your own health!  Here are some tips.

~ Say no to drinking water in plastic and using plastic shopping bags. Grab a reusable stainless steel bottle and refill and use cloth or paper bags for shopping.

~ Use reusable tableware – say no to plastic. Refuse plastic straws, Styrofoam cups, plates, and cutlery. Are you an big coffee drinker?  Recognize that about yourself and have a reusable cup in your car. Like to use straws? Keep a stainless steel straw in your glove box or purse.

~ Food packaging is the biggest problem of all!  It’s easier to avoid putting fresh produce in plastic, but think of all the snack type foods that contains plastic packaging; cereal, crackers, yogurt, cheese, etc. Purchase these items in bulk, sourcing products like milk in glass bottles, and avoiding heavily packaged foods when shopping helps curb single item waste.

Many of us believe that our plastic waste is recycled but sadly it’s just not true. Recycling rates for plastic are poor – less than 1% of all plastic bags are actually recycled. The plastic you put into blue bins or recycle bins is not automatically disposed in a full circle where plastic is turned into another product or given new life. Most plastic ends up in the land fill, and the overrun sometimes ends up in our water and that has turned into a huge problem. Plastic is created to exist forever. Did I just say forever? Yes, so the problem of using something only once and having that packaging created to withstand the elements forever is scary. And once that plastic item becomes weathered and torn, the small pieces it breaks down to probably cause the most damage because it’s now making it’s way into our food system, animals, and soil.

When you can’t avoid using plastic – treat that item with care and try to use it for as long as possible. In my house we’ve accumulated toys, sand toys, water toys and rather than feeling guilty about having these items, I’ve taken a new approach; take really good care of them. When these toys are gone they won’t be replaced so if we can keep plastic sand toys that will last my children’s entire childhood….then mission accomplished. There isn’t an effective material to replace plastic with water play – especially floatation devices, pools, etc. so treat them with care. Ensure your plastic is removed from visiting the beach and treat it well. Use it and preserve it so it doesn’t become a single use item – stretch it’s use into years.

At every turn with talking about the environment and human health, the biggest factor is curbing consumerism and reducing items that have a short life span. When you understand that plastic was created to last forever – it becomes hard to purchase something that will only be used once, but will stay on the planet longer than your grandchildren.

Share
sig

2

End Of School Sustainability

For the last few weeks of school, my house has been slowing filling with endless amount of paper, art work, and journals/duo-tangs/folders that the kids started bringing home from school. While they were emptying their desks from school, the added clutter was accumulating in my house. I didn’t want to go out and buy storage containers for their work and realized the empty cereal boxes we have in the pantry were the perfect size to store most of their work. Upcycling and item that would have gone into recycling is a very sustainable storage alternative and great for our planet. Here is what my storage looks like for the end of this school year:

 I also noticed that when I sat and sorted through all the kids work, I found many work books, an art sketch pad, and duo-tangs that were almost unused. If you carefully go through the work coming home rather than just parking it in a box, you will save yourself money in the Fall with purchasing school supplies. We’ve been using the same package of O’Bon pencil crayons for each of my boys for three years because of the super high quality of these pencil crayons – this is an example of paying for quality goods that can be reused for many years. Check glue, scissors, pencils and supplies before putting them away for the summer – pull out rulers, sharpers for next year.

We also find shoe boxes to be great for up-cycling around here. We had a great time making compostable fairy gardens a few months ago, but we also use a shoe box to pack up the loose school supplies that are on the kids list to purchase. I’ve ignored the ‘plastic box’ on the kid’s list each year and sent them with shoe boxes they decorate with a picture of a favorite summer memory. Shoe boxes are the perfect size to fit into an elementary student’s desk and when they get tattered – dispose into the compost.  Shoe boxes are something that should never be thrown out – the storage solutions are endless with a quality box.

I’m not aware of a company that has perfected selling all-in-one eco-friendly school supplies. On the contrary, I think the pre-assembled boxes really skimp on quality and safety to keep the costs low which is why we opt out of that option every year. My kids used to be disappointed when they were the only kids not getting the pre-made box. I try to encourage them that it’s okay to be different and be proud of their boxes filled with upcycled and carefully selected supplies. It takes courage to be different and stand out in elementary school and I think these small acts can increase a child’s confidence. My kids have been bringing plain, steel tiffins to school for lunches since Kindergarten and are proud that their classmates think they are cool!  I also keep their backpack designs without commercialized prints so they can be reused until the backpack becomes tattered, rather than the kids outgrowing younger prints.

Do you have any up-cycling tips for end-of-year school supplies?  Please share in the comments.

Related Articles:

Skip Licensed Backpacks and Check Out EcoGear

Eco-Friendlier Wheeled Backpack

Compostable Fairy Gardens: Fairy Party Craft

Share
sig

0

Clothing Mis-labelling Leads To Composting Problem!

I’m not a patient person so for me to write this article over a month after first contacting a major clothing manufacturer with a simple question is really amazing for me! But since it’s been a month with no response, other than the standard “customer service will contact you”, I think I’m free to discuss something that very few people have thought of. How are companies able to label clothing as 100% cotton when they have glitter, sparkles, and plastic in hard form and plasticized on clothing? It’s obviously not 100% cotton and has been mislabeled by every single large chain retail clothing store. The company I approached for an explanation was The Gap. They are one of two stores that got me thinking about this question. The other store was Walmart but since I’ve noticed The Gap has a higher price point with clothing I thought I’d start with them.

The question has been building in my mind for years because when I receive clothing from Walmart for my children I start to itch from looking at the clothing tag label. There is almost always polyester in the PJs and with my kids having skin sensitivities including eczema, I’ve just learned to avoid their clothing. But because I don’t shop often in malls, but when I do go in, my awareness of materials and textiles in really heightened. Me walking into a Mall by myself  is crazy..my senses are high, my awareness of everything going on around me and I always notice changes the Mall has made. The last time I walked in my jaw hit the floor with a large screen TV (I mean it was HUGE) and there are girls walking the cat walk in fashion (I’m guessing) that’s sold in the Mall stores. I couldn’t believe this was on when so many young girls are at the Mall with their parents. You can keep the magazines and TV away from kids with this subject matter but walking into a Mall they need to see super skinny girls wearing high fashion? It’s ridiculous.

Anyway, that’s not the point of this article..I’m getting off base. I was at the Mall shopping for a suit for my son who was celebrating his 1st communion. I headed into my usual stops which included The Gap. I’ll admit that the girls’ clothing in The Gap can be a weakness because they do an amazing job with colors and themes I love like feathers, peacocks, woodland animals, etc. But I started noticing that almost every single t-shirt had plastic attached to the front. And some shirts didn’t just have the plastic decals attached to the front…some actually had tiny repeating rows of plastic bits hanging off the front of the shirt. Out of a possible 25 styles I found two that were silk screened with a design…and they weren’t cute designs. I asked the sales girl how you would even care for a t-shirt in this style since it shouldn’t be heated with all the plastic on it..she politely looked at me like I’m from Mars and explained it could be line dried. <grin>

I left The Gap and started thinking of all the stores in that Mall that sell clothing tagged 100% cotton that clearly isn’t. In an age of transparency why doesn’t that include our clothing? Especially when it’s obviously incorrect? We all know that cotton items can be composted. This is when labeling really becomes important. How can I compost a shirt with a huge PVC decal ironed onto the front? Let’s put aside the fact it’s off-gassed in my dryer at high temperatures over it’s life span. If that shirt isn’t ripped by the time my kids are done with it – of course it will be donated or given to a family that will wear it. But, what happens at the end of that shirt’s life when I’m putting it into our city compost? That compost is being used to grow food and we need to start thinking of what is ending up there.

And this final point of composting is why I don’t rejoice in listening to other people talk about the clothing they purchased at huge discounts with cross border shopping. It is the reason I’m trying to save up to purchase a few t-shirts for myself this summer but I want silk screen designs made from veg ink. It’s not because I try to spend more money than needed…I just know that always shopping based on cost and not with a story is usually a bad thing for the environment. In a few years when I’ve worn my new shirts over and over again and it’s time to purge, I can put them into the compost and know they will truly break down and decompose. This may sound strange to people but it makes me feel good. Shopping at a Mall can’t be avoided – I need to go there a few times a year for special items, but I way prefer to shop with people that have thought about how things are made and labelled.

I encourage you all to ask this question next time you go into the Mall. Ask questions. It’s only going to be after thousands have asked that something might change.

I leave you with some inspiration I found on Vancouver Island in Ucluelet by Pina. Her little print shop has a story and it’s pretty awesome – so are the designs including feathers, eagles, and wolves all printed in her studio in earth friendly ink.

 

Related Articles:

Archived Eczema Category

Share
sig

0

Who Should Shop At Thrift Stores?

It’s a question I hadn’t really pondered until it was mentioned in a Facebook discussion last week. Should only people struggling with making end’s meet shop at thrift stores? I immediately felt a little ill because in the last year I’ve started shopping for clothes and books at our local thrift store. Is this wrong for me to do?

I was going to my 2nd hand store days after reading this question and decided to walk in eyes wide open. I went solo, without kids, and once I could sit in the children’s book isle and pile up a stack of books I remembered why I’m so comfortable and why it feels good for me to shop this way. I like the fact when I look through the books I hear whisperings of where they’ve once lived. I remember when I went to look for Christmas books, I found a post-it note in the front of a book, hand-written from grandparents about why they thought the child would enjoy the book. It made me feel special that I was seeing the note and it reminded me that even these books had a story. They had already lived in multiple houses, been read to numerous children, they no longer smelled of fresh ink (which my sensitive nose appreciates), and I don’t have to worry about breaking the book in. I am recycling, I say in my head and feel proud.  I am taking something and making the decision to not purchase it new, rather to find it, contribute to a non-profit that helps other people, then when my children are finished we will donate it back to the store. A very good cycle of use I would say!

When it comes to the books, I would say I’m pleased to also see dollar savings. Because I’m donating these books back to the store after they’ve been well loved, it’s nice to pay $1, rather than the high cost of brand new books. But I would argue that point about purchasing clothes 2nd hand. I think you could probably find clothes for the same price that are brand new if you watch for deals at Walmart or other brand name shops.  But when it comes to clothes, I’m not there shopping for deals.  I simply LOVE used clothing.  I believe that new clothing can be toxic. Here are several reasons why:

~ plastic decals, appliques, and embellishments are everywhere on clothing. What do I mean? Check out your child’s t-shirt & PJ drawer and look at the front…you will find a graphic or character there. When I talk about making better choices with clothing and buying 100% cotton clothing over polyester, it’s crazy that the clothing is marked 100% cotton when there’s a huge plastic decal attached to the front of a t-shirt or PJ set. That is not 100% cotton and that decal will be subjected to high heat in the dryer, wash and is breaking down. In really cheap clothing, they are using clothing embellishments made from PVC that contain phthalates and off-gas. When you purchase clothing 2nd hand, these types of decals have been washed multiple times and there is less leaching of materials.

~ the toxic nature of producing cotton has been well documented. This is why organic clothing, especially for babies has been so popular over the last few years.  Organic options are readily available for babies and toddlers but difficult and expensive to source after these ages. I like to think that when clothing is washed over and over the pesticides are eliminated from clothing which is awesome when purchasing 2nd hand!

~ clothing that fits!  And won’t shrink!  I have really bad luck with pants and my 9 year old son. He’s on the above average size and we try on clothes at the store and everything fits him perfectly, after it’s washed they are instantly too small in the waist and leg for him. This has happened to me with every single pair of paints I’ve bought him in the last year. On my last shopping trip I got smart and visited the boy’s jeans section at the thrift store. I paid $5.99 for a pair of broken in jeans that will last him a long time. They fit awesome because they aren’t stiff and awkward, but the best part is I don’t have to worry about shrinkage!

~ if you are on a constant journey to only purchase locally manufactured clothing, it will be a difficult and expensive journey. I try really hard to source everything I can locally, especially for myself, but this is hard with 4 kids and a husband. I don’t shop at big box stores, especially Walmart and others where their business and purchasing methods are questionable…but by shopping at a Thrift store, I can say by recycling clothing, this is more earth friendly in my mind than even shopping locally because I’m not investing in anything ‘new’. Only new to us. And I’m lucky that I have 4 children that see clothing for what it is. Clothing.  There is not talk of brand labels yet which is a blessing, although I know even popular brands exist in thrift stores, you just need to invest the time to look.

~ in an article I wrote years ago, I featured a store determined to change clothing with using sustainable ink. I learned from this article how toxic ink can be and urge you to read the Little Inkers story. Whenever I can, I love to support screen printers that create prints with earth friendlier dye solutions that are free from phthalates and PVC. These designs on the clothing are also so much more original and safe! I also feel when purchasing clothes 2nd hand that many of the toxins in these dyes have been washed out, which reduces exposure. I know the focus is 2nd hand, but I love giving examples of stores doing things right so I want to introduce you to Wren Willow. This clothing store is dedicated to using environmentally friendly water based inks and no harsh chemicals AND the store owner sketches the design that is later screen printed onto the clothes ~ Wren Willow is a magical place to purchase special clothes. These clothes look different,  tell a great story, and what a better alternative to big box clothing? I’d much rather my girls wear this big strawberry than Dora any day!

So back to my visit to the thrift store, and by the time I finished sorting through the pile of books and feeling very comfortable and happy with my decisions to shop thrift, I decided that I’ll continue on the path of being proud of myself for shopping 2nd hand. It is a very earth friendly option with consumerism and when I purchase things for myself and children, I don’t feel the consumer guilt that normally follows shopping at a traditional store. I am recycling. I am reusing. And with spending over $4.99 on each piece I purchased (pair of jeans, 2 dresses for my twins) I realized it’s also not just about saving money. I see new clothes being blown-out on sales all the time for $5. It shows me the markups in these stores is beyond ridiculous and the price tag doesn’t dictate if a shopping trip was successful, it’s the feeling that comes with bringing something new into my home. And if the item has previously been worn, washed, and then donated, it makes me feel proud to have found it.

** For all the latest updates, conversations, and answers to many questions from parents looking for safer solutions in their home, please join our Mommy Footprint fan page. The page is updated with information daily and the questions we discuss are wonderful.

Share
sig

2

Powered by WordPress. Designed by WooThemes