My journey in to green living started with buying organic food at the first Whole Foods shop in Austin, Texas, 20 years ago. Since then, I’ve gradually adopted more and more of a green living lifestyle. I’m not living in a yurt on a sustainable farm (though I certainly wouldn’t mind!) but I do what I can and for me that is limiting my family’s exposure to environmental toxins, specifically endocrine disrupting chemicals.
Here is a snapshot of a few of the simple steps I took:
I stopped buying:
Deodorant with aluminium;
Cosmetics with talc, aluminium, parabens and phthalates;
Dental floss made with BPA.
I’ve made sure my children’s lunchboxes and backpacks do not contain PVC or phthalates.
I switched my children’s pack lunch tuperwares from plastic to stainless steel.
We all use stainless steel water bottles with a BPA free spout.
I green clean with Dr Bronner’s castille soap and a simple disinfecting solution of vinegar with lavender and tea tree oils.
All these ingredients I am avoiding listed above come up time and again in my research.
1. Bisphenol A (BPA): BPA is leached from polycarbonate plastics and is an endocrine disruptor. Numerous studies have shown there to be a wide array of possible adverse side effects from even low level exposure. Endocrine disrupting chemicals are similar in nature to natural sex hormones and disrupt hormone function. They can mimic natural hormones, tricking the body into increasing or decreasing hormone production or blocking hormone signals. Studies where BPA exposure is tested in animals have come up with many side effects, such as development anomalies, reproductive abnormalities, early onset of puberty and pre-cancerous changes in cells, among other things.
BPA is a featured component in polycarbonate plastics which are used for clear plastic baby bottles and sippy cups, clear plastic water bottles and other kitchen plastics. It is also used in the lining of all food and beverage cans, and some tetra packs.
2. Polyethylene terephthalate (PET or PETE) which leaches phthalates. Phthalates are another endocrine disruptor mimicking estrogen. It has been linked to, among other things, asthma and allergies in children, early onset of puberty and certain types of cancer.
3. Polyvinyl chloride (PVC). PVC has been described as the most hazardous of consumer products. It too is an endocrine disruptor and is linked to the same adverse effects as those above. PVC is used in, among other things, toys (banned in toys for under 3’s), clear food and non-food packaging (e.g., cling film), shampoo bottles, cooking oil, peanut butter jars, and shower curtains.
4. Triclosan and propylene glycol are more endocrine disruptors. Triclosan also disrupts gut bacteria.
5. Aluminium is linked to many health issues including Breast Cancer and Alzheimer’s Disease.
Some resources to help you implement change:
Eco-Dent, Tom’s of Maine and Radius all do BPA free dental floss.
Stainless steel lunch containers: http://www.littleacornstomightyoaks.co.uk/shop/Lunchbots
Glass tuperware: http://www.pyrexuk.com/produits/storage.html If you do stick with plastic tuperware, stick with numbers 2, 4, 5 and 7 in the little recycling triangle on the bottom of the case as studies have shown that these plastics leach the fewest chemicals. Number 5 is generally the best for all your own personal food containers. Numbers 1, 3, 6 and 7PC (PC standing for polycarbonate), have all been shown to leach these dangerous chemicals.
BPA free baby bottles and rubber or silicone dummies and teats.
Bamboo, stainless steel or ceramic children’s tableware:
PVC free lunchboxes: http://www.littleacornstomightyoaks.co.uk/shop/Skip_hop/Lunchie
Stainless steel drink bottles: http://www.onegreenbottle.com/ and http://www.glogg.co.uk/
There’s of course so much more you could do for yourself and your family. For great tips and lots of education, check out: http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/top-tips-for-safer-products.
Erin McGuigan is a Birth and Post Natal Doula and the Co-Creator of Treasure Birth antenatal classes. She is passionate about helping families set their children up for a lifetime of physical and emotional wellness, starting from pregnancy, on through to birth and then in the early years. Erin’s experience as a doula and antenatal facilitator has given her the opportunity to work with many mothers, fathers, babies and children. To read more about Erin click here
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