Welcome to the Earth Day Blog Carnival
This post is part of the Earth Day Blog Carnival hosted by Child of the Nature Isle and Monkey Butt Junction. Each participant has shared their practices and insights of earth friendly, environmentally conscious, eco-living. This carnival is our way to share positive information and inspiration that can create healing for our planet. Please read to the end of this post to find a list of links to the other carnival participants. Happy Earth Day!
Happy Earth Day!
When I first became a mom, I began with the best of intentions for my family. I wanted my children to have a plastic-free childhood with beautifully crafted wooden toys. For awhile, all we had were wooden toys. Now that we’ve hit the sword-fighting and Star Wars years, I find that we have accumulated a sea of plastic toys. I don’t think there’s a way for us to avoid them anymore.
Legos are a gateway drug into plastic toys.
I’m very lucky that where I live, I can recycle many types of plastics. Although, as I learn more about how the recycling system works, I’m disinclined to believe recycling is a long-term alternative.
There’s question about how much of them are actually recycled. They are sometimes transported back across the planet for recycling, which is incredibly wasteful. The processes to make the used plastics into new workable forms is polluting and wasteful as well.
Any piece of plastic that enters my home is something that I and the future generations in my family will have to caretake. It makes me think twice about impulsively buying that plastic toy for my kids when I realize that we’ll be yoked with it potentially forever. The trinkets don’t look as cute to me anymore.
Not only am I looking at the actual plastic item being purchased, I’m also concerned with packaging. I will choose one item over another if I can reduce plastic packaging. Any plastic containers we do take home, I will try to reuse before recycling or throwing away.
A few of my favorite reuses: Ziploc bags, Plastic cereal bags, plastic toilet paper bags, etc, can be washed and reused (many times.) Molded plastic around a toy can be used as paint cups or molds for playdough or clay. Mesh bags can be used to store bath toys or hung outside for birds to use in their nests (stuffed with human and pet hair collected from brushes, bits of fluff, string, etc) If I haven’t figured out what to do with a plastic item, I’ll toss it in a box in the garage for inspiration later.
I’ve accepted the idea that plastic toys will make up most of our toys. My main goal is looking for ways to reduce and reuse the plastic we do buy and to reuse the wrapping. And I still try to buy local, handmade, recycled and/or natural materials whenever possible.
My main focus is to cut out our plastic use is when it is in contact with our food.
By now, we’ve all heard that Bisphenol-A (BpA) is a bad thing. For awhile, I bought into the idea that if an item is BpA-free then it must be a safe alternative. But, that isn’t true. Here’s why:
BpA mimics estrogen in the body, disrupting our natural hormone levels and interactions (called Estrogenic Activity or EA.) The bad news is that BpA is not the only hormone disruptor in plastics. The really bad news is that a recent study found that some plastics touted as safer because they’re BpA-free actually leached higher levels of other Estrogen mimickers. The plastics industry is allowed to call their products safe because they do not test them under “stressors” like normal wear and tear from sunlight, fluorescent lighting, microwaving, dishwashing, etc. The study goes on to state that for currently available plastics (including the plant-based ones):
Almost all commercially available plastic products we sampled, independent of the type of resin, product, or retail source, leached chemicals having reliably-detectable EA, including those advertised as BPA-free. In some cases, BPA-free products released chemicals having more EA than BPA-containing products…Many plastic products are mischaracterized as being EA-free if extracted with only one solvent and not exposed to common-use stresses…
You can look for plastics that are certified EA-free, but again, these have not been tested under the types of stressors that normal use would potentially cause them to leach EA’s. I’m avoiding plastic-even the “safe” kind. As long as the plastics industry is allowed to keep its formulations and production processed secret for proprietary purposes, we won’t really know what is in them.
So, of course, we don’t use our microwave to cook anything. We don’t use nonstick or aluminum to cook. We avoid canned foods and buy in glass, which I then clean out and reuse. And we try to eat more of an organic, locally grown, raw, plant-based diet. When we can’t get fruits and vegetables in season at the farmer’s market, we hit up the grocery stores. But, even there I’m careful. Another study showed that vegetables and fruits encased in shrink wrap have highly levels of plastic compounds in their flesh (that means it goes through the skin or rind.) Loose fruits and vegetables don’t need to be placed in plastic produce bags for the most part. But I do have some cloth mesh produce bags that I can reuse at the farmers market or grocery store, if I need to.
We buy much of our dry goods in the bulk section because we can bring in our own glass containers, have them pre-weighed, and fill them-another way to avoid bringing home plastic bags. I know the bulk bins are made of plastic and the bulk goods are probably transported in plastic. There really is no way to eliminate plastic exposure entirely, but this is about minimizing.
We’re nowhere near perfect avoiding plastic in our food. We do rely on Trader Joes prepared foods to supplement our snacks quite often during the week. It is a trade off on how much time I can split between plastic avoidance and compromising free time with my family.
The important thing to me is that I continue to educate myself and my family, make better choices whenever we can, reduce our purchases, reuse wherever we can, and finally, minimize our exposure-beginning with our food.
How do you avoid purchasing plastics for your family? Do you have any favorite ideas for reusing plastic “waste” items before tossing them? I’d love to hear from you.
- The Smart Mama summarizes plastic food packaging study
- A wealth of information on living without plastic from My Plastic Free Life
- Environmental Working Group works to keep toxic chemical information available
- A nice cull of sustainability and environmental issues from Treehugger
- Healthy Child Health World empowers parents to protect children from harmful chemicals
- BPA-Free Plastics Still Leach Estrogen-Mimicking Chemicals: Report
- Sign the Petition to send a message to Coca Cola that bottling water in plastic made from 30% “plants” is not green; it’s greenwashing.
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
(This list will be live and updated on April 22 with all the carnival links.)
Going Green in 2011 – Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama discusses the way she and her family are going “greener” in 2011.
Our Greatest Teacher – Amanda at Let’s Take the Metro shares her experiences with her children and nature, their greatest teacher.
Dreaming of Spring Gardening – Erin of the Waterloons talks about the ultimate in local food, her backyard garden.
Earth Conscious Minimalism – Nada at miniMOMist thinks minimalism can help you save the world — as long as you don’t just toss everything in the trash! Check out Her list of places to donate (bet you haven’t thought of them all!).
Blessings to the Earth – Amy at Anktangle believes that a simple act, such as being intentionally grateful for our food, is just the catalyst we need to bring about large-scale change.
Eight Movies to Inspire Change – Mrs Green at Little Green Blog shares her top 8 movies that have inspired her to take action to make the world a better place. She’d love to hear your suggestions to add to her viewing list! (27/4/11 link corrected)
Can I Have a Green Period Too? Kelly at Becoming Crunchy shares the environmental impact of switching to sustainable menstrual products, along with offering a great Mama Cloth giveaway for anyone interested in making the switch (and for those who already have and want to increase their stash!).
An Eden to Call Our Own – Lucy at Dreaming Aloud shares how learning to care for the Earth starts in her own garden. (27/4/11 link corrected)
Elimination Communication – Melissa at the New Mommy Files discusses the environmental impact of diapering, and why elimination communication was the best choice for her family.
The Living Earth: A Meditation in Science and Reverence – Seonaid at The Practical Dilettante asks you to pause to wonder at the blessing of the fact that our living planet is here at all.
Earth Day Anthem – Amanda at Let’s Take the Metro created a poem in honor of Mother Earth, women and nurturers everywhere.
The Plasticity of Compromise – Zoie at TouchstoneZ shares how she is working to compromise on healthy family living and avoiding plastics whenever possible
Earth Day Resolutions – Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama shares why she has decided to make Earth Day resolutions, what those resolutions are, and how they are a step up from her current efforts at green living.(27/4/11 link corrected)
Is it time for you to say “Enough!”? Mrs Green at My Zero Waste asks you to rise up and say ‘Enough!’ on Earth Day.(27/4/11 link corrected)
Homeschooling with the Earth – Terri at Child of the Nature Isle shares her desires and dreams for Earth-based learning and the ways her two young children have already started a natural curriculum.
Beyond the Green Sheen – Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction offers some advice on how to avoid greenwashing and make purchasing choices that really have a positive impact. (27/4/11 link corrected)