The 30 Day Plastic Cleanse

Motherhood has inspired my eco-friendly choices in so many ways. From household cleaners to organic mattresses free of toxic flame retardants, my choices have been about protecting the health of my family and the health of our planet.  The irony is that so many children’s products, that are supposed to be ‘safe’ for them, are made of plastic.  There is also the issue of convenience products, like juice boxes and rice milk boxes with plastic straws that come in plastic packaging. This makes it difficult to navigate through the multitude of bottles, high chairs, toys and bath products available, that will work for a family AND be eco-friendly.

Plastic isn’t the only factor in making my choices.  For instance, the (very expensive) wood high chair from Stokke has flame retardant in the padding. I suppose I could figure out a pattern and make my own, but I don’t know how to sew. The foam and plastic booster seat we purchased does not have flame retardant.  But, it’s plastic.  The organic baby wash and shampoo comes in a plastic bottle.  I have yet to find any organic baby personal care products in glass, except for an organic bum balm by Baby Bear Shop. Which I happen to love! They also make great lip balms that come in tins, so you won’t be wasting plastic on the tube types.  Our child safety gates at the top and bottom of the stairs are plastic.  The wood gates don’t have wall mounts and are flimsy.  The metal ones risk broken legs because of the spacing of the bars.  (My brother broke his leg when he was one year old on something similar, so I don’t think they’re safe). The swing set we purchased is made of redwood and metal, but has a plastic slide and plastic bucket swings.  Some things are just safer in plastic or there just isn’t an alternative except to pass altogether on an item.  That being said, I viewed some photos of the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” again tonight and read Beth’s list again over at Fake Plastic Fish, which re-ignited my commitment to reducing our plastic consumption even further.

Having a toddler has it’s challenges with making the best choice on behalf of the planet.  As a sleep deprived and busy mom, I need some of those conveniences.  And, I couldn’t have lived without my Baby Cubes plastic freezer containers for storing my baby’s homemade food.  So, I’ve decided to start with eliminating plastic that lives for under 1 day to 1 month in our home.  Items like, Ziploc storage bags have been replaced with these great snack sacks I found on Etsy from WasteNotSaks.  Lunch Skins by 3 Green Moms also makes a variety of these pouches.  I’ve already eliminated plastic wrap and I use silicon covers, aluminum foil and Anchor glass storage containers.  My mom is giving me her yogurt maker, which will eliminate a lot of plastic tubs going into the trash. (They don’t recycle them in my county).  I am considering giving up paper towels for my son’s spills and using rags. We have a water shortage here and rinsing the rags out all day will also waste water.  I need to weigh this one out and get some opinions. I don’t like that paper towels come wrapped in plastic.

My mom pointed out to me last night that the organic chicken I was preparing for dinner was sitting in styrofoam and wrapped in plastic – one meal for 500 years of degradation!  My last trip to Whole Foods, I didn’t want to wait in the long line at the deli counter to get my chicken, so I opted for the pre-packaged version.  From now on I will wait in line and get my chicken wrapped in paper!  I am excited about getting a composter to eliminate all plastic bags in our home!  On the theme of composting, I recently changed out my makeup.  Maybelline model, Josie Maran is a cool, earth -friendly mom who gave birth in her back yard. She started a line of non-toxic and eco-friendly cosmetics that I love! Her compact, when finished, can be thrown in the composter – once the mirror is removed!

Shampoo, conditioner and body lotions will be the most difficult.  Again, plastic isn’t the only issue. I don’t want chemicals on my body or going down the drain either.  For instance, Lush makes a shampoo bar that I tried years ago and loved – but it isn’t organic and has some “junk” in there I don’t want on my body.  I am going to try Burt’s Bees shampoo bar when I run out of my bottled shampoo. There are some body lotions out there that have simple, natural ingredients housed in glass. I used one from Red Flower Japan in the past and it smelled like plums. I already use a wonderful solid bar made of olive oil and beeswax for my hands and my child’s dry cheeks. My hair is dry, so I need a conditioner.  If anyone has any suggestions on this one, I’ll take it!

Is anyone else up for the challenge?  Review the products in your home that have a single use or last for under 1 day to 1 month and eliminate them.  And then email me to tell me about it!

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10 thoughts on “The 30 Day Plastic Cleanse”

  1. Wow. What a great post. I have been thinking about the question you posed on my blog about paper towels vs. rags in the drought-ridden Bay Area. It’s a good question. Remember, it takes a lot of water to produce paper towels. Of course, the water doesn’t come from our area. Paper towels also require energy to produce and ship. There’s more to them than just the plastic wrapper.

    What if you kept a rag bucket and tossed dirty rags into it as you go along… then wash them all at once? I’d like to hear your ideas. Not having children myself, I’m sure I don’t go through as many rags as you do.

    Some of these issues have no perfect answer, do they?

  2. Thanks for this post! I have been enjoying reading your blog since you posted a comment on my blog a week or so ago! Thanks again for a wonderful post!

  3. If you have dry hair just skip the shampoo altogether. One of the boys has dry hair and I have never washed it in anything except warm water and it is great.

    viv in nz

  4. Cosmetics are a big issue with me too. As well as taking into consideration the chemicals, animal testing and packaging of these products one of the first things I look for is whether they contain PALM OIL. Most do, and come from unregulated Palm Oil plantations. These plantations are generally founded by the unsolicited burning and destruction of rainforests such as those in Borneo-responsible also for the killing, maiming and near extinction of the Orangutang and other wildlife. The thing is, most labelling of Palm Oil is hidden, generally words containing Palmitate, Glyceral Stearate etc are all disguises for the same thing. I know Burts Bees contain it. And Josie Marans makeup too. Also found in most foods, junk foods especially. Biscuits, chips, chocolate, icecream….

  5. Great post. I’m also trying to rid my life of plastics. However, there are other considerations. For example, a baby mattress that’s not waterproof is a baby mattress that may grow bacteria and even mold. Babies sleep on their mattress for 12 or 14 or whatever hours a day. Accidents happen, and there is little point in pretending otherwise. It’s one thing to say that you don’t want a baby mattress made with polyurethane foam, vinyl, toxic fire retardants, etc. But even after you’re beyond that, what about the bacteria and the mold from urine that makes its way into the mattress?!

    I did some research on all this and am impressed with the Naturepedic approach. First, they took out all the usual polyurethane foam, vinyl, toxic fire retardants, etc. They eliminated virtually all the petroleum ingredients that usually go into a mattress. Instead, they use organic cotton batting, organic cotton fabrics, etc.

    However, they decided to offer a waterproof option on their mattresses for people who want it waterproof (and I think that most people do). First, they recognized that polyethylene and polypropylene are the safest plastics. If you do some research, you’ll find that organizations like Greenpeace, The Green Guide, and others all agree that these plastics are safe. Then, Naturepedic went a step further and only use food-grade polyethylene. Finally, they took their waterproofed mattress and had it tested by GREENGUARD, and it passed all the GREENGUARD standards. So, while they’ll sell you the mattress without the waterproofing, they offer a good option if you want it waterproof.

    Now, there’s also wool pads which can be used for waterproofing, but they’re not really waterproof, only water resistant. Some people (babies included) are also allergic to wool (as they are to cats, dogs, etc.). Then, some people just don’t want to be using animal products to begin with. Wool pads are also expensive and can double the price of a mattress, and they’re a hassle to keep washing and line drying. So wool pads are not for everyone, to say the least, which is why I’m impressed with the Naturepedic approach.

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