In this economy people are watching their budgets.
Let’s examine how much an average family of 4 is likely to spend annually on drinking water:
$ 200 – Using a water filtration system.
$ 520 – Home water cooler delivery.
$ 528 – 2 Gallon Jugs
$ 1755 – Drinking 3 bottles of water a day at a cost of .40 per bottle, 4 person family.
There are many cost variations. Clearly the brand you buy, how much you pay per bottle, how many bottles you drink each day… all of these factors will impact your annual cost. Use this link figure out how much your family is actually spending, this link also provided me figures that I used for the above calculations.
If you rent don’t despair, there are many portable water filtration systems available in the marketplace.
In some ways it is less convenient to use stainless steel, you have to keep the bottles clean, round them up, fill them up… but I’ve never been a fan of lugging heavy flats of water!
An average family of 4 can save $1555 per year eliminating bottled water. Add the dollar savings to the environmental impact of bottling plants, trucking, refrigeration, not to mention disposing of billions of bottles a year and perhaps you will reconsider grabbing that next plastic bottle of water.
It seems more and more important that we stay informed, get involved, buy local produce whenever possible from the farmers and wash, wash, wash what you buy from the market!
The Short Version:
Fruits and vegetables are packed on pallets for shipping, turns out the industry is moving towards using more plastic pallets, turns out a bunch of these pallets contain Deca a chemical linked to Cancer, Brain and Reproductive Disorders in animal studies.
What is Deca?
Deca is a Flame Retardant that is added to plastics to prevent them from catching fire at high heats.
Question: How does the Deca get from the pallets onto our fruits and vegetables?
In preparation for shipping produce is hydro-cooled. Stacks of pallets containing produce are submerged in supercooled water, or have water dripped on top. The water is then recycled, raising the concentration of Deca in the water and increasing the likelihood of contamination.
General Mills, Borders Melon Company, PepsiCo, Cott, Okray Family Farmsand Martoni Farm are currently using plastic pallets. While Dole Foods and Kraft Foods are considering making the switch.
As a result of public health concerns officials in Maine and Washington State have restricted the use of Deca and 10 other states are proposing bans this year.
Canadian and European officials have banned the use of Deca in electronics. It seems clear that Deca should come nowhere near our food supply and yet, at the moment, it is much too close for my comfort.
This is summarized from an EWG report on another potential contamination of our food supply. Click to read their full report.
Image courtesy of Wahig.
With plastics plastered all over the news I am working harder than ever to reduce plastic use in our home.
I thought I’d share some techniques that work for me in our home.
Use glass containers for food storage:
My favorite way to store leftover foods in my fridge is the 6 Cup Rectangular Pyrex dishes with blue lids – we have 8-10 of these and I love this system.
- Leftovers always look good.
- They are the perfect size, not to big, not too small.
- They stack nicely – so things look organized.
- They are clear so you can see what is inside them and you are more likely to remember what you have and finish it off.
- They can go in the freezer, oven or microwave.
- They can go from fridge to table for casual dinner service.
- We use a round pyrex 10 cup bowl (with lid) to keep ready made salad in our fridge. The salad stays fresh for much longer in this bowl. Prepare your salad – leaving out anything mushy (in our house that’s tomatoes). I’ll often chop a few days of extra salad fixin’s, throw them in the bowl. The next day or two, all I have to do is add more (organic)mixed greens – Salad is done.
- I have a stack of 8-10 custard cups (a few with lids too). These are great for reheating small servings of food – they were perfect for warming baby food too.
Reduce plastics at your point of purchase:
When shopping, make glass packaging a criteria – you’ve been there. You’re at the store, you’ve studied the label. You are trying to figure out which product is the best choice – all things being equal – pick glass.
For example – not too long ago I was trying to decide between Ralph’s Brand and French’s Brand Worcestershire Sauce -the only 2 brands of Worcestershire I’ve found without HFCS (this is really my life). They still had a few unknown ingredients – but they seemed to be relatively equal. One in glass, one in plastic. I chose the French’s – it was in glass.
There are now many products that I routinely purchase in glass, Peanut Butter, Almond Butter, dressing, tomato sauce and such. Some things may be prohibitive to your budget (for most families I’m guessing Milk), but if you look you’ll find you have a choice more than you realize.
Re-Use the Glass:
I’m gearing up to start making my own beans (to avoid the can), so I’m saving all these glass jars and lids. Soon I will have enough to get cooking – in the meantime they fill in as food storage when I’m out of pyrex.
I keep the salad dressing bottles, they are good for storing homemade fruit or berry pancakes syrups & I have visions of making salad dressing… one day soon. Help me Martha!
There you have it. A few simple ways we are using less plastic in our home.
What’s working for you?
BPA Effects: Why We Need to Take Extra Care with Our Babies
The developing fetus and baby are the most vulnerable to BPA and their toxic effects. Sadly, babies are often exposed to more BPA than any age group, studies have even shown they are highly vulnerable during pregnancy.
“Prenatal exposure, even in very low doses, can cause irreversible damage in an unborn baby’s reproductive organs.” According to Marc Goldstein, M.D, director of the Cornell Institute for Reproductive Medicine. He also states “Fertility rates have been declining for quite some time now, and exposure to synthetic estrogen—especially from the chemicals found in plastic products—can have an adverse effect.”
Although completely eliminating exposure to BPA may not be possible, there is good reason to take every step you can to reduce your babies exposure. The FDA estimates that babies have 12.5 times more BPA exposure than adults, and EWG is concerned that FDA underestimates exposures for many babies.
BPA Effects: Where Are Babies Exposed and How to Reduce Exposure?
- Many parents have replaced their polycarbonate baby bottles, but they may be unaware that BPA contaminates liquid baby formula sold in metal cans. For babies not being breastfed formula may make up 100% of a baby’s diet over her first 6 months of life, choose your baby formula carfully in order to minimize potential exposure to BPA’s.
- Glass and Stainless steel are the safest and most durable option. Some metal water bottles are lined with an epoxy-based enamel coating and could leach BPA, as we’ve seen this with the Sigg scandal. Be extra vigilant.
- If you are a nursing mom be aware of potential exposure in your pumping system, be sure the storage you are using is BPA-free.
- Never microwave baby food or drinks in any plastic containers, heating increases BPA leaching.
- Canned foods are one of the biggest sources of BPA exposure – with so much of the exposure on this topic focusing on plastic containers this fact can get overlooked. BPA’s is used in the epoxy liner of most canned foods, be sure to limit the use of canned goods as much a possible. EWG tested 97 canned foods and found detectable levels of BPA in more than half of the foods. Canned meats, pasta & soups fared the worst in testing. Pregnant women and children should limit their consumption of canned foods to avoid BPA.
More About Plastic:
- With BPA in the headline now for some time, most manufacturers now make BPA-free baby plastic bottles. If you are using plastic, be sure the bottles you are using are BPA free.
- Polycarbonate plastics are rigid, transparent and used for food storage containers and water bottles, among other things. Trace amounts of BPA can migrate from these containers, particularly if used for hot food or liquids.
- Avoid polycarbonate for babies food and drinks. This plastic might be marked with the recycling code #7 or the letters “PC”.
- Wash plastics on the top shelf of your dishwasher or by hand. Avoid using old and scratched plastic bottles.
If you must use plastic:
- Plastics with the recycling labels #1, #2 and #4 on the bottom are better choices because they do not contain BPA
- Soft or cloudy-colored plastic does not contain BPA.
A note about sourcing: A good deal of the information in this piece came from the EWG, I went back and just couldn’t find the exact pages. My sincere apologies for not having direct links and let me know if you stumble on it – I’d love to add it/them.
BPA Effects: What Can You Do To Protect Your Family?
If you live in North America and have an infant, chances are you are using plastics. If you are using plastics there is good reason to be informed and careful in their use.
Whenever you can opt for stainless steel or glass alternatives. That said, I use plastic and you likely will/do to. Let’s be as informed as we can in their usage.
IMPORTANT INFORMATION WHEN USING PLASTICS
- Never microwave any plastic.
- Never cover any food to be microwaved with plastic wrap.
- Avoid storing babies food in plastic.
- Wash plastics on the top shelf of your dishwasher or by hand.
- Avoid using old and scratched plastic bottles.
- Choose Glass or Stainless Steel Baby Bottles – this is your best protection against future headlines! My concern is that we’ll discover down the road that other petroleum made plastics also leach.
- If you are choosing Plastic Baby Bottles, most manufacturers now make BPA-free baby plastic bottles, with all BPA headlines in the news. If you are using plastic – double check to ensure bottles you use are BPA free.
- Choose bottle nipples made from silicon. They are the most durable and inert options. Latex rubber nipples can cause allergic reactions and can contain impurities linked to cancer. The same goes for pacifiers. Throw away any nipple or pacifier that is discolored, thinning, tacky or ripped.
- Liners: Only use if you them if you have a colicky baby and they’ve been advised by your doctor. The soft plastic liners may leach chemicals into formula, especially when heated. They are also a poor choice from an environmental perspective.
- Glass, that is the best choice for storing & freezing pumped milk – if you can come up with a system that work for you.
- The sealable plastic nursing bags designed for storing breast milk are made of polyethylene. Studies published in Early Human Development and Nutrition Review showed no chemical leaching into the milk, but did indicate that milk stored in these bags may lose some nutrients because they cling to the plastic. This is what worked for our family. I would freeze the milk flat on a box, once frozen stand it up and place at the back of the milk inventory. Thawing was very quick in warm water.
- Let me know if you come up with an efficient glass storage method, I’d love to share it with my readers!
- When your infant starts on their first foods, instead of plastic dishes use glass custard cups. They are durable, can be microwaved, and some even have lids. Chances are – at this stage – you’re the one doing the feeding. Why risk exposure at this very early stage?
- Before you know it your baby is going to start eating real food. Chances are you will be serving most of that food on plastic dishes. my children are 3 & 4 years old, so I know why! Plastic is less likely to break when it’s tossed to the floor.
- Don’t store left over foods in the plastic dishes – store the leftovers in the custard cups we were just discussing – in my books. Less time in the plastic = less time for chemical leaching.
- Look for stainless steel or tempered glass bowls to use as snack containers – they are your safest option. We originally purchased plastic bowls for dry snacks and chopped fruit – my understanding is that leaching occurs most with heat and liquids, but if we could do it again, I’d choose a safer material. BTW – plastic bowls break too!
- If you are using plastic dishes – move your children to regular dishes at an earlier age. My 2 year old son eats his dinner on the same plates as the rest of the family and at the dinner table drinks from a glass. We’ve only lost one plate.
- Duralex glasses are extremely durable, they are tempered making them stronger than regular glass. Shopping for glasses look for Duralex if you want to keep them for a while!
- Avoid polycarbonate for babies food and drinks.
- Polycarbonate plastics, marked with a #7 code or PC; they are rigid, transparent and used for food storage containers and water bottles, among other things. Trace amounts of BPA can migrate from these containers, particularly if used for hot food or liquids.
IF IT MUST BE PLASTIC
- Plastics with the recycling labels #1, #2 and #4 on the bottom are better choices because they do not contain BPA.
- Soft or cloudy-colored plastic does not contain BPA.
Check out these plastic alternatives available at amazon:
These dishes are tempered glass:
KIDISHES Kid-Friendly Tempered Glass Bowls, Plates and Tumblers
These look great for on the go lunches:
LunchBots Pico Stainless Steel Lunch Container