Plastics


Go to fullsize imageThe topic of bottle water amazes me.  I can’t believe that we all spend so much money on water in a bottle.  I I understand it when people are travelling and have no other convenient water source or if people have really bad well water at home and don’t want to drink rotten egg water for ever.  But for most people I know, bottled water is pure luxury.  So what’s the draw?  Most people who I know who drink lots of bottle water, claim it is “more pure” and healthier than regular tap water.  Hmmm…I am not so sure about that.

Have you heard about the bottled “spring water” that actually came from a well located near a hazardous waste site?  Or the “pure glacier water” that came from a public water system in Alaska (a.k.a. “the tap”)?  Did you know that 25% of all bottled water comes from a public water source, the same as our tap water?  Why are we paying oodles of dollars over time for tap water in a plastic bottle?

Like I said, some people feel that bottled water is healthier.  While most bottle water is free and clear of contaminants there has been instances where harmful bacteria and chemicals were found in bottle water.  Just because it’s in a bottle doesn’t mean it’s sterile and safer than tap water.  Tap water is processed and regularly tested for bacteria and chemical levels.  The last major study investigating bottled water was in 1999.  Due to some regulatory inconsistencies, about 60-70% of bottled water is free of FDA oversight and regulations.  This includes those big water cooler jugs.  What happens is that the FDA does require regular testing but bottle water is considered a low risk item and often deadlines for inspection are stretched to make time for more pressing contamination issues.

In fact, you may not even be aware that bottled water has been contaminated.  Often, the bottling company simply has that batch pulled from store shelves.  They are not required to report mold, benzene, coliform, and microbes detection directly to the consumer.  This happened about 100 times in the past 10 years.  Granted, it’s not a major statistic but if you are concerned, you should know the facts.

If you are starting to think that maybe just maybe that bottle water is a little bit of a rip-off join the club.  Save that $1-$2 you would normally and put it into your gas tank.  Don’t contribute to petroluem product dependency and avoid buying those plastic bottle filled with tap water.  Let’s face it, not everybody is as great at recycling plastic as we are!  Go the “Biggest Loser” way and filter your own water into a reusable container.  Keep a jug of filtered tap water (or just tap water) in your refrigerator.  You will save yourself from having to buy bottled water and also save water by not waiting for the blue stuff to get cold as it runs from your tap.

Wait!  There’s more!  A couple friends of mine and I have a running joke that Meijer brand bottled water was simply water that they got from the drinking fountain in the back of the store and put in bottles.  I am not sure about that particular brand’s source yet, but you should not be fooled by words thrown on labels such as “pristine” and “pure”.  Aquafina has started to indicate (in small type I am sure) that their water is from a public water source (tap water from Wichita, Kansas).  Dasani acknowledges on it’s website that it’s bottled water comes from a local source such as tap water from Queens, New York or Jacksonville, FL (with minerals added of course).  Nestle Pure Life water indicates on the bottle if the water is from public, private or deep well resources.

All in all, you will find a lot of he said/she said about tap versus bottled water.  I have simply chosen to drink filtered tap water whenever I can.  I rarely buy bottled water unless I am travelling and it’s all that seems to be available.  I do always start off my trip with 2 reusable water bottles filled with tap water.  I also will frequent a drinking fountain now and again if I am on short jaunts and find myself thirsty.  Remember those things?  I know, they can be a little germy and sometimes taste funny.  But they will work in a pinch.  Also, when I am at my favorite restaurant and they ask if I want “bottled or tapped”, I will always reply, “I’d like to tap that”. 

Bottled water resources:  Aquafina is tapBottle Water Terms/Info$8 million business

“Take Good Care of My Babies”

Tweenie’s Greenies:  Tuesday Edition

The greening continues over here.  Little by little we chip away at our once very toxic and wasteful home.  Granted, at times we swing back and forth like a pendulum.  Going from one green extreme at one moment to total wastefulness the other, all to satisfy our whims of convenience.  Overall, we aim for a healthy balance somewhere in the middle.

In looking through our bathroom routines, I have noticed several little items that could easily be “greened”.  It will also save us some more money which is great seeing as how back to school needs are looming.   For some reason, I have concentrated on greening my daily hygeine regimen and not my childrens.  Kind of backwards if you ask me.  Children’s skin is so unadulterated and sensitive.  You would think this would be my first bathroom priority instead of my leathery abused skin.

First place to start:  A thorough wipe does not have to include a whole roll of toilet paper or oodles of premade butt wipes.  Seriously, when did adults get so sissified?  There must be some kind of butt sensitivity evolving in humans.  Suddenly, no one can handle the discomfort of squeezably soft charmin or have forgotten basic wiping with TP 101.  I have never gotten TP burn for normal wiping or had uncontrollabe TP left overs on my underside before now.  These premoistened butt wipes made by Charmin or Scott or any other manufacturer may feel nice and help to avoid “lint build up”.  But couldn’t you just keep a spray bottle of mild natural soap diluted in water nearby to accomplish the same thing?  Try it and see.  Make up a spray bottle of diluted mild soap (just as you would for cleaning diaper butts), lightly spray it directly on your “privates”/bum.  Then wipe.  Or spray it on the TP, then wipe.  You pick.  I will humbly admit that I bought a couple packages of adult/child butt wipes since Anson was potty training but they have made little to no difference in the cleanliness department. Never again! You will be consuming less plastic from wrappers and packaging as well as using less overall petroleum products in your daily habits.  Another wiping suggestion: teach your kiddos to use less TP.  Seriously, you can spare a square.  Anson thinks that you need to use mountains of TP.  He would use half a roll if we let him, but we are saving money and trees by teaching him to only count out a certain number of squares per duty done.

Next, I looked into their bathing habits.  Hmmm…I have quite a few plastic bottles hanging out to possibly be used on the little ones.  There’s shampoos, body washes, lotions,  and powder.  First of all, the powder is not recommended by most pediatricians, even those with cornstarch (avoid talc at all costs due to contamination with asbestos concerns).  Powders can promote bacterial growth and can irritate the lungs when inhaled.  Give those little bums some air time to dry out instead. 

Take a look at that baby wash container.  Do we really need to soap up our babies in oodles of body wash that comes in fancy wasteful plastic packaging?  A mild bar soap and a soft washcloth does the job just as nicely.  “The Green Book” says that if you use bar soap on your baby that the plastic packaging saved would weigh more than two hundred thousand pounds-enough to make a baby bathtub that would cover more than 4 acres.  If you are saying to yourself, “But I recycle the plastic. It’s okay.”  Remember producing the plastic container uses a lot of energy and resources and plastic can only be “down-cycled”.  It will never be able to be recycled at the same quality it is for it’s original use.  Plus, plastic is expensive to recycle.

Baby lotion.  Honestly, I have had the same bottle for 2 years.  I could probably just get rid of it.  My kids have pretty balanced skin and don’t like lotion.  If they get a dry spot here or there, I could simply rub some good old natural aloe vera gel on it instead.  If your baby has really dry skin and lotion is a must have, buy it in a larger container.  It’s less wasteful to buy the lotion in larger quantities.  Try to purchase natural lotions in recycled containers free of parabens, petroleum products and artificial fragrances. 

Finally, in their actual bath, skip the bubble bath.  It’s fun, but the fragrances that often go along with it are often irritating to the little ones.  Plus, you will avoid another plastic bottle purchase.  Cha-ching!!  My other suggestion is to bath as many little ones in one bath as possible.  My kids are all small enough that they can bath together without being traumatized.  Only one tub of water is used for all 3.  We also only use one towel to dry off all 3.  It’s like an assembly line.  This saves me some laundry.  Goodness knows that I don’t need any more laundry!

Hmmm…I can’t think of anything more at the moment.  I will keep you posted if I think of any more “tips” to green the little ones in the bathroom.

 

Go to fullsize imageI went to visit my friends at the local nursery again today for more cocoa bean hulls.  MMM!  Chocolate bliss.  Maybe it’s a new diet, if you are craving chocolate you can come over to my house lick my mulch and roll around in it.  (Sorry, that really doesn’t sound quite…right??)  I just had a little bit more of the flower bed to cover up and I wanted to avoid any type of greenhouse/nursery this weekend.

My instincts turned out to be excellent (for once!).  The small parking lot was packed and there was a line at the checkout counter that wrapped all the way back to the perrenial section.  I can’t imagine what tomorrow will hold for business!  So, I wanted to hurry because the kids had to nap yet.  I ran up to the bags of mulch.  A wonderful yound salesman helped put a big bag of cocoa beans on my cart thing.  Then, he asked me a very evil question…”Do you need any flowers/annuals to go with that?  We are having a GREAT sale today.”  Uuugh!  He had me at “Here, let me help you with your cocoa hulls.”  I responded, “Well, maybe just one more flat of annuals.”

I quickly speed walked through the annuals.  Grabbed one flat of verbena.  There done.  Wait, these little tiny wave petunias are so cute!  Grabbed one flat of those.  Yes, I now have 2 flats.  Then I saw some herbs.  They were on sale too.  I mixed some cilantro, lavender, oregano, thyme, and chives to make up a flat.  In only 3 minutes, I have tripled my original spending plan. 

As my back was turned from my cart to search for the best quality herb plants, a woman starts to look over my selections and begins to take some of my annuals. I slap her verbally, slightly scare her, and head for the cashier, grabbing some tomato plants on the way.  (I am going to try growing them in pots on my deck.)  I fork over the cash.  Load up my car and head home.

Once I am home and unloading my garden goodies, I notice that my group of annuals has gotten quite hefty.  This means 2 things: 1.) I have tons of planting to do this weekend.  2.) I have will have a mountain of plastic pots and those black flat containers when I am done. 

I am not so worried about the planting part.  I love methodically digging in and designing my flower beds.  The extra used plastic flower pots bothered me a lot in the past.  I would save and store them forever because I always thought I could find a way to reuse them.  I never did.  The recycling centers usually don’t allow you to put plastic flower pots and containers into the recycling bins.  Thank goodness I found that most greenhouses and nurseries would be ever so grateful if you would kindly return the empty trays and pots for reuse.  It saves money for them and it also saves that plastic from hanging out in the landfill forever.  You can also check with any colleges/universities or high schools in your area to see if they can use them in their teaching greenhouses.  Another option is to use them yourself if you are planning on growing any plants from seed in the relatively near future.  Whatever you do, PLEASE DO NOT throw them away!  There are so many options to repurpose or reuse them.  It would be a shame not to complete this one simple task so we can all wave our big green thumbs around with sustainable pride. 

Tweenie’s Greenies

Week 4:  Take Good Care of My Baby

You need a quick bottle for your hungry and whiney baby.  You hurry into the kitchen or reach into your diaper bag, grab a quick can of ready to use formula.  Pop it open.  Fill the bottle.  Put the bottle into your little ones mouth and successfully expose them to harmful cancer causing chemicals. 

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That’s right, another doom and gloom cancer causing chemical story from good old Look, Mom, Look!  I’m sorry, that’s all I got right now for this Baby edition.  In trying to green my baby without them actually turning green, I have just come across countless items/ingredients that are suspected carcinogens.  I do often question just how reactionary I should be to these frightening reports, but I will do whatever I can to limit my child’s exposure to potential toxins.  It’s the nurturer in me.  I don’t want my children to be unnecessarily ill and therefore, I am spurred on to a hypervigilant state.  Although, this does little good for my anxiety issues.  Next thing you know, my family will be living a “green lifestyle” here and I will be sitting pumped full of anti-anxiety meds at a “special home” just for me.

Anyway, back to this story….Did you know that there is a potential cancer causing chemical in cans of ready-made or concentrated formula.  Well, guess what??  There is.  Yippee Skippee.  From what I understand it is not in the powdered cans of formula, only the liquid varieties.  A plastic chemical called BPA is used in the formula can linings and it leaches into the formula.  This chemical has been known to cause nasty reproductive problems.  And how about some little behavioral or neurological issues to go along with that? 

Even if the scientific community is still questioning this, at least we can simply avoid giving our babies ready-serve formula from a can.  Just another argument of why boobs are best for babies.  Which is just perfect since I can’t get Gret to take a bottle for the life of me anyway 🙂

Here’s the link to this story:  http://www.ewg.org/node/22416

  

Tweenie’s Greenies

Week 2: Perpetually Yours, Plastic

Okay, so as much as I wanted it to, the title doesn’t rhyme.  I know that but I still like the way it sounds 🙂  The week has flown by and I haven’t addressed 1/2 the issues I could with plastic.  It is really overwhelming to think about how much plastic we really use in our lives.  I like the uses of plastic and it’s difficult to change.  However, there are a couple things that we can do to at least reduce the amount of raw plastic we use and cut back on the amount of plastic we send to the landfill.  The main thing is to reuse and recycle!

Here’s some easy tips:

  • Buy in bulk.  Instead of buying several small items in plastic containers, buy one big one.  It will save on the amount of plastic that was manufactured for that product and also the amount of plastic you recycle.  I am saying recycle because I know that you WILL recycle as much plastic as possible.
  • Avoid buying plastic toys for your children.  Try to buy wooden or cloth toys instead.  You may be avoiding some chemical exposure for your children associated with plastics and also saving on the massive amounts of energy needed to manufacture plastic products. 
  • Buy refills.  Cut down on the amount of plastic packaging by buying refills for certain products.  Such as baby wipes and cleaning products.  If you already have a hard plastic container, why buy a whole new one to replace it?  Many products have refills that come in soft plastic (which is a little better) or cardboard refill packs. 
  • Use fewer plastic bags.  Here’s  a great fact from “The Green Book”:  U.S. Households dispose of nearly one hundred plastic bags annually, millions of which end up littering the environment and harming marine animals.  By reducing plastic bag consumption by just two bags per week, you’ll throw away at least 100 fewer bags per year.  If tied together handle to handle, these plastic bags would make a rope long enough to wrap around the earth more than 126 times.
  • Buy products with as little packaging as possible.  Use less, waste less.
  • If you buy items made of plastic, look for products that are made from postconsumer recycled content.  This is plastic that has been recycled and diverted from the landfill.

Overall, just consume less.  You will decrease the cost of manufacturing, and the amount of plastic sent to landfills and the environment.  Also, recycle.  Know what your city accepts and look at products for the appropriate codes.  It’s simple.  I know that it is close to impossible to eliminate plastic from our lives but we can change the extent of our use.  And ultimately, your home and surroundings will be greener for it.    plastic-bottle.jpg

Tweenie’s Greenies

Week 2: Perpetually Yours, Plastic 

If you want to capture time, just put a Timex watch into a plastic bottle.  It will stay there forever and will keep on ticking.  Plastic never really decomposes when left to it’s own devices.  You can however recycle plastic.  If you look on the bottom of a plastic container you will notice a triangle of arrows with a number in the middle.  Most people think that it means that the plastic can be recycled (most of it can) but what it really indicates is the type of plastic.  See here for a summary of the types. 

Types 1 & 2 are the most common types of plastic that are recycled.  But even then, only a small percentage of plastic materials even make it to recycling centers.  Some of the other types of plastic are too difficult to be recycled and may not be accepted for recycling.  Unlike glass and aluminum, it is difficult recycle a plastic container back into a plastic container because it doesn’t retain the same properties when reheated.  It has to be “downcycled” into another plastic material. 

A great example of this, is a program set up by Nike to recycle as much material of tennis shoes as possible.  It’s called “Reuse a Shoe“.  It is their goal to keep as many old worn out tennis shoes from the landfill as possible.  I saw a presentation by a Nike rep on their shoe recycling program and was amazed at how much of the shoe can be reused and downcycled!  Nike has created drop off sites for tennis shoes to be recycled for new uses.  They separate the different materials of the shoe, grind the materials up and create play and sport surfaces such as the rubbery material that cushions the fall of your child at some playgrounds.  However, not many people know programs such as this exist and therefore, spreading the word is important for reducing the amount of material sent to a landfill.  Here is a way to look up a shoe drop off location near you.  Click Here.

Did you know that if you looked at North America from space, the highest point on the Eastern Seaboard is a landfill? (The Green Book)  If we reduce the amount of plastic that we send to the landfills by recycling, we can minimize the space used in landfills (plastic is estimated to take up 25% of landfill space) and ultimately decrease the demand for new landfills/waste areas.

  

Tweenie’s Greenies

Week 2: Perpetually Yours, Plastic

In my quest to find more uses for plastic or ways to reuse plastic materials in my home, I came across this really AMAZING idea.  I thought I would share it with you, even though I was tempted to keep it all to myself.  Do you have 20 million plastic shopping bags around your house?  I do.  I recycle some, but feel that I must at least use them more than the 15 minutes it takes to get from the store to my house.  Well, I was impressed with this one website’s suggestions as to how you could reuse your plastic shopping bags.  Drum roll, please!  Here it is…

“Plastic Rain Cap”

A Rain Hat!!

That’s right, all you have to do is put a plastic shopping bag on your head.  You can adjust the handles as you see fit.  I was thinking that a nice plastic artificial flower would look great hot glued to the top.  Waala!  You can be one hot babe even in the rain.  The only downfall of reusing your plastic bags like this, is that it may not be suitable for young children as per the warning on the bag about putting it over your head.

 

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