Thursday, August 4, 2016

Why You Should Throw Away Your Kids' Plastic Fork today

A few people have noticed that on my posts with the kids I do not use plastic plates, plastic forks and plastic cups on most of my posts. I started this a few months ago in an effort to reduce harmful chemicals exposure in my family.  Nowadays we find many products with buzz marketing words like BPA free, PCB free, phthalate free, this free, that free.  But this always made me wonder, what are they replacing those chemicals with to create a plastic that does not melt in the microwave?  So I just started paying more attention to chemicals exposure and how I could make sure my family wasn't being unnecessarily coming in contact with them.

A few years ago I started heating up food in the microwave only using ceramic plates or glass bowls. My husband got tired of me asking him to cover the plate with a towel or another plate and decided to give me a microwave cover for us to use.  I guess he didn't realize that the plastic cover was exactly what I was trying to eliminate.  I might have hurt his feelings by rejecting a "gift" he thought was so thoughtful! But, I cannot make myself use plastic in the microwave.  Didn't do it then, won't do it now.

Still I didn't think it was enough.  I was still storing food in plastic containers.  I would make a big pot of beans and freeze portions for easy thawing out and I would just have to make rice and veggies.  I would put the still hot cooked beans inside the plastic container and put it in the freezer for later.  When I was ready to use it, I would transfer to a ceramic bowl, cover with a ceramic plate and thaw it out in the microwave (hey, I do know some people have a problem with microwaves, but I am not there yet...). I thought that was enough.  Until last summer, when my husband and I watched a documentary that is completely not related to plates and cups.  This documentary just confirmed that you are not just what you eat, but also what you are exposed to. There's so much information in that documentary, which I will say, is mostly about breast milk, what gets stored in our fatty tissue, how we are passing all that we eat/touch to our babies, and how breasts have changed overtime. This documentary is fantastic! Here is a preview – you need to find it by name on Apple TV, Amazon or Netflix in order to watch it in its entirety. It is called "Truly Strange - The Secret Life of Breasts"

While watching the documentary, this is what jumped out at me that made me try to reduce exposure to all these chemicals:
- There are 80,000 registered chemicals in the US, less than 1,000 have been tested for potential hormone disrupting effects
- In the US, chemicals are allowed to be sold until proven harmful, so we don't know what the impact they might have on people and environment
- They examined breast milk and breast tissue from 10 Australian women who showed exposure to PBB (flame retardant), phthalates (makes plastic more flexible and harder to break), PBDE (another flame retardant), PFDA (non-stick coating in pans), PCB (present in electrical equipment) and DDT (a pesticide banned in many countries) and found out they had high levels of those chemicals in their breast milk.  The scary part about this fact is that Australian women levels were 95% lower than US women.
That's why I came to the conclusion that I wanted to reduce my kids’ exposure where I can.  I won't stop living, we still have modern lives and I'm not going to start building my furniture anytime soon.  But on the other hand, I think that making one small change in how I serve them can have a greater impact on their health in the future.

After watching that documentary, I switched all my plastic storage containers that used to get stained, warped and ugly, with easy to clean, hygienic and plastic free glass containers.  I love it! Yes, the lids are still plastic.  But unless I fill the container all the way to the top, food usually doesn't touch the lid.

I am fully aware that I will not be able to 100% eliminate plastic from our lives, but I will sure try to limit our exposure to it. That's why I decided a few months ago to get rid of all the kids plastic containers, except for a couple of beloved cups, that eventually will get tossed (don't tell the kids!). You know, I thought I would be freaking out each meal afraid they would break a plate a meal. But all honesty, accidents happen less frequently than I thought.  Yes we've lost a plate or two, but that's why I purchased inexpensive, on clearance usually, plates at Target. If you're really concerned with breakage, Corelle makes some hard to break tempered glass ones if you don't mind spending a little bit more.  For cups I have started using the Life Factory small cups that have the silicone sleeve around it, so it doesn't slip from their hands so easily, and they come in fun colors that kids love.

As far as sending food to school, I didn't think that glass would be a good idea just because it involves other people's kids too.  So I found these steel containers that work great for small portions and are also safe from chemicals.  Again, these ones have plastic tops, which I would prefer they didn't.  Since I made the switch last year, I've seen all metal lunch boxes that are on my radar for purchase.

I encourage you to watch the documentary and draw your own conclusions. Don't be nervous about making the switch to real glass plates/cups, rest assure the kids will learn to eat with real cutlery and real plates.  They actually use "real plates" in Montessori schools and kids as young as 18 months learn how to use them.  Yours can too! Lowering the exposure to chemicals that we don't even know about is far scarier to me than having to clean up a broken plate/glass mess from the kitchen table. Call me paranoid, but why not try to reduce exposure where you can, right!?

PS: I know you are a mom and time is precious.  But if you find some time for another quick read, here is a good explanation on BPA and its effects as well.

1 comment:

  1. What a great initiative you took to save your family from possible harm. Yet many people have to learn to let go things that are not bringing in any favours for their environment.