Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Best Ways to Get Plastic Savvy for Big Results

Plastic can be dangerous. Plastic is everywhere in our homes. It off-gasses into our air, it leaches into our food and it never goes away. These are just some of the facts about plastics Tanis Frame, aka Mamamaven, made clear at our recent Lavish & Lime Get Plastic Savvy workshop.

Post by Louise

Did you know that every piece of plastic that has ever been created still exists? It just keeps getting broken down but it's still here complicating the ecosystem, except for for the little bit that has been incinerated, which releases toxic chemicals.

According to Mamamaven, the first step to greening your nest and rid yourself of the potentially harmful effects of plastics in your home is to get fresh air. "Get outside and play!" she says. "Bring the fresh air in - open windows every day and bring in the plants to purify the air."

Mamamaven suggests trying Wide Open Wednesdays as a great way to remember to open your windows at least once a week.

While we all know about them, sometimes it's hard to keep the plastics numbers straight. Here's the lowdown once and for all:
  • opt for #2, #4, #5 -- these are the safest
  • don't reuse #1 -- many plastic water bottles are made with this
  • avoid #3, #6, #7, unless confirmed bioplastic
  • look for phthalate-free and BPA-free labels
Mamamaven recognizes we all have plastics in our homes and offers some basic do's and don'ts when dealing with them:
  • avoid microwaving plastics
  • avoid hot contents
  • hand wash all plastics, DO NOT put in dishwasher
  • discard worn plastics -- scratches, cloudiness -- put these to a safer non-food use
She also points out that many everyday electronic devices like key fobs, cell phones, blackberries, etc. contain plastics made with chemicals like flame retardants. These are by no means food-safe plastics and should not be in children's mouths.

Getting savvy about plastics use means looking to alternatives: stainless steel, wood, bamboo, glass, wool, fabric, lead-free ceramics are all great options. There are also safer plastics that are free of nasty toxins like bisphenol-A (BPA), PVC and phthalates. Some of these are new bioplastics made of starch-based resins from sustainable, renewable plant crops like wheat, corn, tapioca and potato. The bioplastics market is growing 20-30% per year at the moment.

It can all be overwhelming, but Mamamaven suggests taking even little steps like opening the windows can make a big difference. She recommends making these three areas top priorities when looking to green your nest and make it safe from toxic-laden plastics:
  • hot or wet food storage
  • toys that go in the mouth
  • finding and removing PVC#3 'vinyl' poison plastic items, found in everything from shower curtains and blackout blinds to flooring, backpacks and lunch bags
More ways to live a greener, healthier life and reduce the effects of harmful plastics:
  • choosing reusables over disposables
  • refusing excessive plastic packaging
  • buying in bulk, buy concentrated products, buy refill packs
  • buying powders in paper rather than liquids in big plastic jugs
Some great resources for further learning include:
Watch for our Live Facebook Forum featuring Mamamaven coming in April. Become a Lavish & Lime facebook fan now so you can receive updates about this exciting upcoming event.

For a great selection of eco-friendly and non-toxic alternatives for everyday products and more ideas about living a greener, healthier life, visit our eco boutique Lavish & Lime.

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