Archive for the ‘plastics’ Category

Snackaby reusable snack and sandwich bags review

The sweet folks at Snackaby contacted me to see if I would be interested in doing a review of their reusable snack and sandwich bags. School was about to start and my hubby takes his lunch almost daily, so I was excited about the opportunity.

This was my first experience with reusable baggies. We usually used reusable containers, but sometimes those just are not practical – like taking sandwiches to the museum, or sending almonds with my husband. I really hate using ziplocks because I feel like I am throwing money away.

Snackabies are made by two moms who knew there was a better way than plastic, disposable bags. They wanted something safe, reusable and environmentally friendly. They accomplished just that.

I really like these bags. I was afraid that because they were not air-tight that the sandwiches would dry out, but that was not the case. I made a PB&J for my daughter and she only ate half, the other half stayed in the Snackaby bag in the fridge for a few days and the bread was as soft as when I made the sandwich. Love it!

The velcro closure is also easy for kids to use.

The best feature of these bags is the pull-out tab to clean the inside and outside of the bag at the same time. Genius! The bags can be washed this way in the dishwasher – another genius feature.

Of course Snackaby reusable bags are non-toxic – Snackabies are made of laminated cotton on the outside and a food-safe, polyurethane laminate that is free of DEHP, Phthalate and BPA plasticizers, on the inside.

Cons – Hmmm, if I HAD to come up with cons I’d say if you wash these by hand don’t submerge in water because they take forever to dry that way. These bags are also not completely air tight, thus not good for anything that may have liquid, like some fruits (i.e. berries, watermelon, pineapple).

Cost – $10 for the sandwich bag, $8 for the snack bag or $17 for a set. I probably spend around this a year, so it will be a cost-saver in the long-run.

But I have no reservations about recommending these bags. The pull out tab for washing is great and they wipe clean very easily too.

See all Snackabies on their Etsy site: www.snackaby.etsy.com
Visit them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.

Thank you Snackaby for the opportunity to try these great bags!

Safe school supplies 2010

It’s back-to-school time again! Time to shop for those school supplies and of course you want them to be safe from ickies like PVC. Kids are going to be using school supplies and lunch boxes on a daily basis and kids are more greatly affected by toxins than adults. So we want to make sure we are sending them off with items that are safe.

So, what should you all avoid this back-to-school season?
1. PVC – polyvinyl chloride. PVC causes cancer, and is notorious for containing lead which can cause irreversible brain damage with too much exposure.

How to avoid PVC, the poison plastic. The CHEJ gives these quick tips:

  • PVC products are often labeled with the words “vinyl” on the packaging, such as vinyl 3-ring binders
  • PVC packaging can be identified by looking for the number “3” inside, or the letters “V” or “PVC” underneath, the universal recycling symbol, indicating the product is made out of PVC. Just remember – bad news comes in #3’s, don’t buy PVC
  • Some products are not properly labeled, making it tough to determine whether they contain PVC. If you’re uncertain, e-mail or call the 1-800 number of the manufacturer or retailer and ask what type of plastic their product is made of. You have a right to know.

While sadly, some safer school supplies are harder to find, if you keep looking, you should still be able to find PVC free supplies. Here is a pocket guide to help you along and a full list of PVC-free school supplies. Though, for many of these supplies on the full list, you will have to do your shopping online and those sites are noted on CHEJ’s guide, which is certainly more appealing to me than battling the back-to-school crowds in stores. Luckily, I have 1 more year before I need to worry about that.

Some of my favorite PVC-free items for back to school are

So, where can you find PVC-free school supplies? If you are like me and prefer not to battle the last minute back-to-school shoppers, check out the eco-friendly selection at Amazon for

Or consult CHEJ’s well researched list with websites of manufacturers and how to buy.

2. BPA – bisphenol A. Common in Polycarbonate (PC) #7 plastic. A hormone disruptor that interferes with the developing breast and prostate in the womb and out, as well as affecting brain development and behavior. Has also in recent studies been linked to cancer, heart disease and diabetes.

See my BPA-free list here to find BPA-free water bottles, dishes, snack bowls, etc. or shop at The Soft Landing.

3. Polystyrene #6 plastic. Styrene can cause nerve system damage and is listed as a probable human carcinogen (causes cancer). Commonly found in Styrofoam containers, as well as other food containers, cups, cutlery, CD’s, packing peanuts, etc.

4. Alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Kids and alcohol just don’t mix, so opt for something safer such as CleanWell Hand Sanitizer.

5. Triclosan and items labeled with “Microban Technology.” Triclosan is the common ingredient in many antibacterial products, including most liquid hand soaps, and is toxic. Really anything labeled antimicrobial, antibacterial, keeps food fresh longer, and other such claims could contain Triclosan. Avoid it. SafeMama has a good article on Microban and I agree with their stance that it seems unnecessary and because there is not sufficient evidence one way or another, it’s best to steer clear if possible. I make my own foaming hand soap and love it!

Does your school make the environmental health grade? Use the CHEJ’s environmental checklist to find out.

That should you do if your school list has items on it that you feel strongly against (i.e. alchohol based hand sanitizer like Purell)? Tiffany at Nature Mom’s Blog did a write up last year with a letter she sent to her son’s teacher explaining some of the deviations she provided from the required list.

Hope these tips make your back to school year a little healthier! Happy shopping!

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BPA, PVC and lead free lunch boxes for back to school

Go green and reduce waste

When we toss out old items, we really do not think about the toxins in old cell phones, styrofoam containers, etc. and the impact they will have on the health of the earth, animals and humans, especially our children. Even when going to a landfill, those toxins leach out into the ground and eventually taint our drinking water, soil and air. The good news is, we can reduce the amount of trash we contribute on a daily basis to help keep this Earth clean and healthy for our children and grandchildren.

Going green really is not a big deal and in some ways can make your life easier and can save you money! Here are some very simple things we can all do to go green and reduce waste.

1. Stop the junk mail and remove yourself from those catalog mailings you never look at
2. Pay your bills online
3. Use your own coffee mug or reusable water bottle at work (and home). Skip bottled water
4. Use reusable shopping bags
5. If you use plastic bags to get your purchases home, use the bag for other things: lunch sack, trash bag, etc. My kids’ daycare loves to get these to send home soiled clothes
6. Donate old furniture, appliances, cell phones, eye glasses, etc. rather than sending them to the dump. Whole Foods has bins for old glasses, cell phones and plastic bags.
7. Bring your own container when ordering take out or dining out, rather than using their styrofoam container
8. Give the gift that keeps on giving – family passes to the local zoo and and science museum create no waste, supports local organizations and provides “free” entertainment all year long
9. Shred paper rather than tossing it and use it for packing material or even composting. Or put it in the recycling bin.
10. Use rechargeable batteries and be sure to recycle any non-rechargeables
11. Put old newspaper under mulch in the flowerbeds to help rid of weeds
12. ALWAYS recycle electronics as they contain mercury – includes batteries, computers, cell phones, TV’s, etc. Gazelle, Cell for Cash and Office Depot offer programs. Locally try 1800gotjunk who will even come pick everything up (not free), Office Depot or Staples
13. When purchasing new items, purchase quality items that will last a long time
14. Of course, take what you can to the local recyling place. My waste management provider picks up recycling once a month and will take glass, cans, carboard, newspaper, plastic… makes it much easier to recycle
15. Get paid for your recycle-able goods — you can get cash for aluminum cans, glass bottles and other items at many recycling centers. Check with the center to find out details. See #12 about getting paid for electronics.

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Ways to go green and eat smart

Going green really is not a big deal and in some ways can make your life easier and can save you money! Here are some very simple things we can all do to go green and eat smart.

Eat smart
1. Plant a garden
2. Compost food scraps
3. Buy local, if not available, then organic foods whenever possible
4. Join a farm co-op
5. Go meatless at least one meal a week (i.e. Meatless Monday). We’ve done this with great success and even look forward to it now. We are a meat and potatoes family, so if we can do it, anyone can! 
6. Buy foods that are in season
7. Use glass storage containers and baby bottles to avoid plastic – definitely avoid polycarbonate (BPA), Styrofoam and PVC plastic. Sometimes plastic can’t be avoided. Be sure you choose safer options.
8. Do not cook in any type of plastic (includes rewarming in the microwave) even if it is label microwave safe
9. Buy in bulk and freeze or share what you can’t use
10. Getting take out? Bring your own container to reduce on waste. Great way to carry home leftovers when dining out too
11. Don’t use Teflon coated pans
12. Avoid artficial sweetners, flavors and colors
13. Avoid MSG and high fructose corn syrup
14. Avoid processed foods, opt for fresh or frozen whenever possible
15. Avoid canned foods – most are lined with BPA which leaches into food (exception is Eden Foods, all but canned tomatoes are BPA free. Pomi tomatoes are boxed and BPA-free. Other BPA-free tomato options can be found here.)

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Chemical Industry Decides Public Health Really IS Better Than Private Profits

Guest post by Janelle Sorensen

In a turn of events not even Nostradamus could foresee, Cal Dooley, President and CEO of the American Chemistry Council (ACC), today announced that the millions of dollars the industry trade group has been using to lobby against policies that protect public health will now be used instead to research and develop safer chemicals.

“We’ve been focusing so much on maintaining the status quo and protecting our profits, that we neglected to notice how our bottom line really relies on the health of consumers,” Dooley said at a press conference outside the ACC headquarters in Arlington, Virginia. “If people have to spend the bulk of their income on health care or are working less due to chronic health conditions, they don’t have money left to buy our products. We’ve decided to make products that are safe and healthy for consumers, because it’s simply better for everyone.”

The ACC has also started their own national campaign to overhaul the outdated chemical regulatory system, the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), and has promised Congress and the Obama Administration that their member corporations will shoulder any tax burdens involved with increasing research, monitoring, and regulatory oversight. Parents, public health professionals, and environmental advocates across the country were speechless and unable to comment. This moment is simply too good to be true. No, really, it is. April Fools!

Unfortunately, the ACC is still only concerned about maintaining their deep pockets at our expense. But, they really are trying to fool the American people into believing they care about public health. In fact, according to Safer Chemicals Healthy Families:

On the eve of Congressional action, and after years of insisting that the status quo was just fine, organizations like the ACC are suddenly announcing their support for reforming our nation’s toxic chemical policy. What changed? For starters, states are beginning to ban toxic chemicals like BPA. Even worse, consumers are snubbing products that contain toxic chemicals.

Understanding that they can’t fight this trend, the chemical industry has launched a PR campaign trying to appear green and clean; luring in supporters with Web sites designed to look like ours. But if you look past the fluff, you will find that our coalition and chemical industry reps still have very different ideas about what real TSCA reform should look like.

Below are some of the fundamental differences between Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families’ vision of reform and that of the chemical industry:

What Public Health Advocates Want

  • Public disclosure of safety information for all chemicals in use
  • Prompt action to phase out or reduce the most dangerous chemicals
  • Deciding safety based on real world exposure to all sources of toxic chemicals

What the Chemical Industry Wants

  • Limited testing of a handful of chemicals, leaving us in the dark about safety hazards
  • More lengthy and costly studies of chemicals already proven to be dangerous
  • An assumption that we are only exposed to one chemical at a time, and from one source at a time

Don’t Be Duped! Learn more and tell everyone you know. 

  1. Sign the petition to Congress
  2. Sign-up for the Healthy Child Healthy World newsletters so you know exactly what’s going on and when it’s most important for your voice to be heard. 
  3. Share the video, “A Wake-Up Story,” so people can understand why TSCA reform is so important.

The Baby Dipper Bowl Review and Giveaway

The first night I used this bowl, I was totally geeking out about it. I LOVED it. My determined-to-self-feed son spilled very little of his dinner on the table thus most of his dinner made it to his mouth – success! Just to be fair, I decided to use the bowl a few more times before writing the review just to be sure it continued to live up to its expectations, and it has!

The contoured shape is great. It helps guide food onto the spoon. I was a little worried that my son would get a heaping spoonful and still spill food all over the table, but I think because the bowl only holds 4 ounces, it helps him get the proper amount on the spoon, so spilling is very minimal. And he does not throw this bowl like he does his plates.

This bowl should be on every baby registry – a must-have for anyone with a baby or toddler in the house.

Pros:

  • Very good at helping babies learn to self feed with the innovative shape of the bowl and rubber base to keep bowl in place
  • Utensils are just the right size and shape for little hands to easily grasp
  • Most of the food stays in the bowl or on the spoon 
  • If you are holding baby and feeding with 1 hand, the bowl stays put with the rubber base 
  • Free of all the ickies – BPA, phthalate, lead and PVC 
  • Can be washed in dishwasher (top-rack ONLY!) 
  • Mom-invented and I love that!

Cons

  • I wish the bowl was available in a bigger size – it only holds 4 ounces, so I have to refill his bowl 3 times to fill his growing belly – but it is not a huge issue, as I mentioned above, I think the size helps him get a reasonable amount onto his spoon 
  • It’s a little expensive at $12.95 per set (bowl, spoon, fork) 
  • Other spoons/forks may not work as well with this bowl unless they are the same size and shape as the Baby Dipper set. Meaning you will want to use the set together every time to prevent having to use an alternate spoon. (hard for DH to grasp, though my almost-4-year-old seems to get it)

I love the bowl so much that I gave one to a friend for her baby shower. I think this will be my new baby gift staple.

Want one?? Enter to win!

There are multiple ways to enter. And enter as many ways as you wish, just follow the rules!

1. Leave a comment here and tell us your favorite thing about the bowl (1 entry)

2. Follow @greenparenting on Twitter, leave a comment below (1 entry)

3. Follow @babydipper on Twitter, leave a comment below (1 entry)

4. Subscribe to the Baby Dipper newsletter, leave a comment below (1 entry, to be verified)

5. Follow the Baby Dipper blog, leave a comment below (1 entry, to be verified) 

6. Tweet about the giveaway: Enter to win! Baby Dipper bowl review and #giveaway http://bit.ly/cDIH9G (via @greenparenting) 1 tweet per day, post link to status in comments

You can also keep up with the latest news from the Baby Dipper on Facebook (though following does not count as an extra entry).

Contest ends at midnight CST, April 12, 2010. Winner will be notified via email and must respond within 2 days. If no response, a new winner will be chosen. Baby Dipper LLC will provide shipping to a winner in the US or Canada.

Disclaimers: Previous winners of the Baby Dipper bowl giveaways sponsored by Baby Dipper, LLC are not eligible. I received the bowl from the Baby Dipper LLC, though the views expressed in my review are those of my own experience with the bowl. No other compensation was or will be received.

BPA, PVC and lead free lunch boxes for back to school

Lead as you know is toxic to children (and adults for that matter), so it’s important that the place their lunch is stored in is lead-free. PVC is toxic as it contains phthalates and lead. Lead can also be ingested from your child touching the bag and then their food. And BPA is the hormone disrupting chemical found in plastics whose toxic effects have been hitting the news and blogs for the last several years. crockcreekcountries

Before purchasing a lunch box for your child, read the label. Make sure it is not made of PVC. Nylon, polypropelyne or cloth are much safer materials. Look for tags that say PVC-free. You also want to avoid BPA if you are purchasing a water bottle or food storage containers.

Crockodile Creek Countries lunch box.

Here is a list of BPA, PVC and lead free lunch boxes.

The Cool Tote is a replacement for the traditional brown bag. It’s made of nylon thus lead and other toxin-free.

Crocodile Creek. These are SO CUTE, and my favorite of the bunch. I saw these at Whole Foods and they are very well-made and have very cute traditional style, zippered lunch box and kid-friendly designs like dinosaurs, the solar system, horses (purple for girls) , trucks/vehicles (boyish), girls from around the world, flowers, countries with animals, farm animals  and a sunflower.

Laptop lunches are good for those who don’t like their food to touch. There are little compartments for separating food.

LL Bean has a critter lunch box line that is really cute and lead and PVC-free.  They would be great for a tween who wants something stylish without licensed characters.

The Lunch Pak by Fleurville is a backpack design, but does have a handle to carry like a traditional lunch box. They also offer a lunch buddy which is more of a traditional lunch box style.

Mimi the Sardine has cute cloth lunch totes that are PVC and lead free. There are several designs such as the ladybug, monkey/elephant/flower pattern, bugs and mice (my favorite).

Munchlers look like zoo animals and they fold out into a placemat, also very cute. They are insulated and come in several designs including a yellow tiger, white dog, green bunny and pink panda. My daughter has the white dog.

ZAK Designs offers several licensed character insulated lunch boxes that are lead free and lined with PVC-free material. Note, they just mention “PVC-free lining” so leads me to believe the entire lunch box may not be PVC-free. Some of the characters available include: iron man, Wall-E, The Little Mermaid, Tinkerbell, Spongebob Square Pants, Diego, Spiderman and many others. Wal-Mart and Target carry Zak lunch boxes.

California Innovations is a nice lunch bag that Wal-Mart carries. It’s stylish no-nonesense bag and free from any characters or crazy prints.

Lunchopolis is another zippered, traditional style, no-nonesense lunch box.

Citizens Pip is a new one available only online from what I can tell. The cool thing is you can customize your lunch box with accessories — separate food compartments, stainless steel bottle, cloth napkins, fork/spoon set, and of course the lunch bos itself!

Kid Konserve is a similar to Citizens Pip’s customizable lunch box system and available on their website.

Thermapod is another similar concept to the laptop lunch. However, it is one piece with 4 sections, which may not be desireable for some.

ReusableBags.comhas a whole section also dedicated to lead, PVC, and BPA-free lunches. I bought two ACME lunch bags — one to carry bottles in for my son to daycare (it fits three Dr. Brown bottles) and one for me for the milk I pump for him at work (it fits six medela bottles).

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Seeking safer packaging to eliminate BPA

According to a new study, not many companies are seeking alternatives to replacing BPA in their packaged foods.

The survey was conducted by sending letters to 20 leading publicly-traded packaged food companies to inquire on the actions they are taking to address concerns over BPA. Fourteen companies responded and the scores were determined based on these responses.

The main findings of the study concluded:

(Excerpt)
• All companies surveyed use BPA and are taking insufficient steps to move toward alternatives.

• Hain Celestial, Heinz, and Nestlé received the top scores because all three companies are involved in researching and testing of alternatives to BPA and all have plans to phase out the chemical in some products.

• Heinz stands out as a leader as it is the only company surveyed that is currently using an alternative to BPA in some of its can linings.

• Three of the companies that responded to our questions, Del Monte, Hershey, and J.M. Smucker, are not taking action beyond monitoring the industry to identify or implement alternatives to BPA as a packaging material. 

Eden Foods is privately held so was not listed in the surevy, however, all their canned foods are BPA-free with the exception of tomatoes which are too acidic for any BPA alternative.

Green Century Capital Management and As You Sow conducted the study and they provide acceptable alternatives to BPA in food packaging. Read the entire article.

 What can you do?

Arm yourself with information.

Avoid companies who are not doing anything on the BPA issue, and write letters to them letting them know you will not buy from them until they offer BPA free products

Support companies who are moving to alternatives to BPA by purchasing their BPA-free products

If you need canned foods, opt for Eden Foods, which are BPA free (except tomatoes)

Ditch canned foods and opt for fresh or frozen

View my lists of BPA-free cups, dishes, bottles and more

Never microwave plastic as it could still leach BPA

Write your congressmen and encourage them to support the call to ban BPA altogether.

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The Real Story Behind BPA
BPA Free bottles, sippy cups and food storage

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Link between Autism and vinyl floors?

Certainly more research is needed, but a Swedish study concluded that an infant/toddler with vinyl flooring in their bedrooms were twice as likely to have autism 5 years later than those with wood or linoleum flooring. For parents who smoked, autism rates were also twice as those who’s parents did not smoke. More research is absolutely needed, but interesting nonetheless. 
Vinyl can emit phthalates, which are chemicals used to make soft plastic that have also been connected to allergies and asthma. The scientists, lead by Carl-Gustav Bornehag of Karlstad University in Sweden, call the data “far from conclusive” and say further studies with a larger group of children are needed to confirm a link.

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Create an eco-nursery; County bans BPA baby bottles and Rubber mulch is toxic

Something new: Link Round up!

It’s difficult to post even weekly now with 2 kids and working full time, so I decided when I have several interesting topics at once, I will give a smaller summary and post the link to the article.

Eco-proof the nursery this is a great little article highlighting common concerns for today’s new parents (or new again). It shows how parents are concerned about the expense of raising a “green” baby and offers tips on how to go free for free or for very little money.

One NY County Bans BPA Baby bottles Hats off to them! I hope this catches on, though with manufacturers stopping the production of them and national retailers stopping the sale of them, bottles made with BPA will be hard to come by soon enough.

Rubber mulch is not non-toxic and contains metal fragments. And Obama just used it on his girl’s White House playground. Hopefully he will replace it. While it seems like a great idea to turn used tires into mulch for playgrounds and landscapes, it really is not non-toxic or safe for kids or the environment. Plus, rubber is highly flammable and difficult to extinguish once on fire.

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