Monday, August 30, 2010

Back to School

As if there's not enough to think about when it's back to school time...I'm about to mention lunch boxes!!! Yes, lunch boxes. This is one of those topics that may be too green for some. I realize some people don't want to go there- to the extreme green, to the bottomless pit of green living. Every time you turn around there's something new to worry about or think about, and at times you wish for the uninformed you.

Hear me out here...

Those vinyl lunch boxes you get at any Target or Walmart are made of vinyl or PVC. Some manufactures use lead as a color stabilizer on these lunch boxes.
I'll stick to two topics here. Vinyl and lead.
I'm going to try to be brief here. Those who know me, understand how difficult this can be for me.

Lead, I don't think I need to go on too long about this. We all know lead consumption is dangerous, especially for babies and kids. High lead levels and lead poisoning can manifest anywhere from vague learning disabilities to kidney failure to death in it's extreme form. Lead was detected in lunch boxes over the last few years and in 2007 many states recalled lunch boxes because levels were so high. I understand it seems a bit panicky to think your child will get lead poisoning from this, but it was detected on the hands of people after handling the lunch boxes. Hands to face while eating lunch, right? Again, this may not be enough to be physically dangerous, but do we really want to take that chance with our spongy, developing child's brain?? I certainly don't.

Polyvinylchloride (PVC or 'vinyl') is used in tons of household products from pipes, and flooring to baby toys, electronics and shower curtains. You know that smell of a new vinyl shower curtain?- yeah, not so good for you. I seriously could create a short separate post just about the 14 dangerous toxins released after opening up that new shower curtain package! (Toluene- a developmental toxin is one!) Several hazardous chemicals (lead, mercury, phthalates, vinyl chloride, dioxins, ethylene dichloride, among others) are released in the manufacturing of PVC. These chemical plants, mostly located in low income, small communities, pollute the air and water and create numerous dangerous conditions for their workers as well. Mossville, Louisiana, surrounded by four vinyl production plants, was noted in a CNN special as having polluted air, water and citizens. People there have dioxin levels found in their bodies that correspond with the dioxins released from the production facilities. Most of the chemicals mentioned here are carcinogens and workers at these plants have been diagnosed with rare liver cancers, brain cancer, lung cancer and lymphomas at a high rate. The bottom line is you don't want to be inhaling the scent of your new plastic shower curtain, you don't want your 2 year old to be mouthing PVC made toys and you shouldn't want your kids carrying a PVC made lunch box.

I get that your child probably won't be licking the inside of his lunch box daily. (However, I wouldn't put it past my daughter to lick a bit of jelly that oozed out of her sandwich onto her lunch box!) But when we speak of healthy kids and a healthy planet...doesn't it make sense not to support these toxic chemical makers? For the sake of the children in Mossville that are breathing and drinking that water. We all have to take responsibility. So lets be sure our kids are protected from dangerous chemicals at least by our choices in lunch boxes!! At the same time we won't be supporting dangerous chemical makers when there are safer alternatives to PVC that are cost effective and available.

If you're wondering if a container or product is made of PVC look for a #3 inside the product or a "V" underneath the recycle symbol.

Here are some places to look for better lunch containers and lunch boxes.

Affordable and easy--

The gold standard--

I love Citizenpip.

Happy back to school!!!

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