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What’s Not to Love About Plastic.

January 30, 2009

With every green post, I feel myslef alienating more readers. I can hear the hushed “crazy lady” name calling. I can sense your discomfort as you think, “I just came to look at some Ainsley pictures.” I know that this blog, “The Ginn’s,” should really be re-named “It’s All About Ainsley.”

But since this blog is really all about Ainsley, let me explain more about why Scott and I choose to be “plastic-free” (or almost plastic-free) with Ainsley and other things in our life.

We have two main concerns:

  1. Plastics are about as unnatural as you can get. Their entire makeup is a recipe of chemicals and toxins (sure, they may have started with “organic” or natural elements…), which we absorb through our skin, eat in our food, and drink in our water. One of the more well-known chemicals being discussed right now is Bisphenol A, or BPA. I’ll also discuss the super-yucky phthalates.
  2. Plastic fills up landfills and oceanic landfills (an oxymoron, I know), where it continues leeching these yucky toxins into the ground and water, eventually reaching the water we drink and the land our food comes from.

If You Can’t Pronounce It, Do You Want to Eat It?

There is a lot of controversy with Bisphenol A (BPA). Some say there hasn’t been enough research or the research is inconclusive. Others believe that the studies reveal enough to generate legitimate concern over the use of BPA, especially in products used by infants and children. Here’s what I believe: The research shows BPA to be a hormone-disrupting chemical,which mimics our own hormones and has been linked to obesity, prostate cancer, breast cancer, and even premature puberty.

Another disgusting (I really hate this one!) element of plastic is phthalates. This softening agent is common in toys (think rubber ducky texture) and cosmetics, and has been found to disrupt the endocrine system, messing, once again, with our hormones. Click the link above to read more.

So what’s the big deal? We can’t avoid all chemicals. We can’t just move to a remote village somewhere, nor do we want to. We can’t get away from plastics entirely.

Besides, we grew up with them and we’re fine, right?

A few thoughts:

  1. What we absorb through our skin goes directly into our bloodstream. If Ainsley chews on a rubber ducky while sitting in a plastic tub, she is absorbing the toxins from those plastics through her delicate skin directly into her bloodstream, which then affects her hormones and developing organs. I can’t avoid it all, but I can control some of Ainsley’s exposure.
  2. Two words: increased exposure. In 1960, plastic made up 1% of our garbage. Today, it’s 12%. There’s just a lot more plastic, and it’s in places we don’t even realize. For instance, our canned goods are lined with it. I had more exposure than my parents, and at this rate, Ainsley will have more exposure than we had (unless we start doing something about it).
  3. How do I know plastic hasn’t affected my hormones? There is no baseline to measure my current hormonal state against. If my estrogen is considered “high,” is it possible that the hormone-mimicking phthalates in my food, cosmetics, lotions, and my daughter’s toys could play a role? These are questions worth considering.
  4. The negative environmental impact from plastic continues to increase, thereby affecting our land, water, and air. We have yet to see how this will affect our children, but I have a vivid imagination and I don’t like what I see.

Plastic, Plastic Everywhere… But Do We Even Care?

Which brings me to the second reason Scott and I try to avoid plastic. It’s just piling up. Think about it; our food packaging, our ziploc bags, our diaper genies (Goodwill won’t even take the one we got second hand before going to cloth diapers), our coasters, our Barbies, our discarded Tupperware, our desk lamps, our Tonka trucks, our mascara tubes, our toothbrushes, our deodorant sticks, our coffee makers, our DVD players, and on and on and on and on…

I didn’t used to think about this stuff. I didn’t notice that my eyeshadow was about 80% plastic container, 20% eyeshadow. So what happened? What made me a crazy lady? I read a Time magazine article while I was sitting at a nearby salon, 9 months pregnant.

“Plastic makes up nearly 12% of our trash, up from 1% in 1960. You can literally see the result 1,000 miles (1,600 km) west of San Francisco in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a swirling mass of plastic debris twice the size of Texas.”

(Google “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” to get more information and see some convincing images. By the way, this isn’t the only oceanic landfill.)

That’s when I started noticing that I could have purchased a wicker cart for holding Ainsley’s cloth diapers instead of a plastic one. I learned that my unrecycled water bottle would be tossed into a landfill (or ocean garbage patch) with the 1 billion other unrecycled water bottles of 2008. (Did you know that all plastics with a 1 or 2 on the bottom can be recycled? They are made into carpets, t-shirts, tennis balls, and car bumpers, among other things.)

One final thought on environmental impact. The process for making plastic is highly damaging to our earth. It depletes water resources and blasts pollution into our air. All this for single use products like trash bags and Happy Meal toys.

As I’ve talked about before, I think God gave us the responsibility of caring for this earth. That means caring for both the ground we walk on and caring about the people who drink the same water, breathe the same air, and live on the same land as us. Minimizing our use of plastic is one way we can be responsible stewards of our earthly home. One small change  a day can help! (I’ll talk more about plastic alternatives in our day-to-day lives another time.)

Here are some articles worth reading if you want to know more about chemicals in plastic and/or the environmental  impact of plastic.

I welcome your questions and feedback. And I hope you’ll come back again. After all, this blog is really all about Ainsley.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Ben Paxson permalink
    January 31, 2009 12:25 am

    I am going to have to disagree with you on this one Amanda.
    :-]

  2. Gramma GG permalink
    February 1, 2009 1:06 pm

    Preach it Rosie!

    You are a good mommy and researching and reflecting on these matters
    for the betterment of your family is just plain SMART!

    There are many alternatives to what is considered the “MUST HAVES” in our
    homes, personal care products, etc.

    You go girl.

    Mamma

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