Posts from the ‘Eco Consumer’ Category

Can I have some BPA with that?

You may have noticed that BPA free is sprouting up on many products from toothbrushes to baby bottles. What is BPA exactly? BPA stands for Bisphenol-A an organic compound found in polycarbonate plastics. Polycarbonates are plastics that are mostly clear and shatterproof like those found in water bottles and food storage containers.

Over time BPA leaches into the food/drinks that they are filled with especially if introduced to high temperatures and/or acidic contents. So that half filled plastic water bottle you left in your car on that hot, sunny day probably has BPA in it. If you microwaved your leftover spaghetti in that plastic food container you are probably eating spaghetti sprinkled with some BPA.

So what’s the big deal? Well BPA is an endocrine disruptor. That means that it can mimic and interfere with the body’s ability to regulate hormones. BPA exposure in even low doses has been found not only to cause brain and hormone development problems but research (mostly on rats) has shown that it can promote breast cancer cell growth, decrease sperm count, and other sexual problems in men. It also contributes to heart disease, diabetes, and liver problems.  And there’s more.  If you want more in depth info check out the website for the book Our Stolen Future.

Here are some tips that I found on the environmental working group’s website

1. Try to avoid plastics. Glass is a good alternative to plastic food storage and baby bottles. I bought a set of glass food storage containers at costco for about $20 and they’re not very heavy. Stainless steel water bottles are a good alternative to plastic. Some are very expensive, but places like Marshall’s, Ross, and Homegoods sell them for $5-10. Just make sure it says 100% stainless steel because some metal bottles have a plastic coating which has BPA so that defeats the purpose right? I have also bought a 3 pack of stainless steel water bottles at costco for $15.

glass food storage & stainless steel water bottle

2. If you must use plastic avoid type 7 plastics or even better make sure it has the BPA free label. Avoid putting plastic containers in the microwave or dishwasher. The heat can cause BPA to seep into your food.

avoid type 7 plastics

3. Avoid canned foods especially with young children. The metal inside canned foods is coated with an epoxy that leaches BPA into the food. Studies have found high concentrations of BPA in canned soups, pasta, and meats.  Also baby formula that are in metal cans leach BPA into the milk.  So your best bet is to buy powder formula.

Fortunately because of the determination of environmental groups and concerned citizens, the FDA and Washington have started to pay attention.  Currently Connecticut, Maryland, Minnesota, New York, Vermont, Wisconsin and Washington state have banned or at least restricted BPA.  SB797 a bill to ban BPA in California has passed the house but has yet to be decided by the Senate.  If you live in CA contact Senator Feinstein and/or Senator Boxer to express your concern and that you want them to  vote yes on SB797.  I have emailed Senator Feinstein before and she actually sent me a reply email!  Now that is what democracy is about!

There are some studies done that conclude that BPA is not as harmful as others have made it out to be.  I don’t know about you, but I’d rather be safe than sorry especially when it comes to children.

I hope you find this helpful!  If you have any other tips please share!

What ISN’T made in China?

So I have been driving myself crazy looking for a gift for my mom to bring back to the Philippines for my brother’s girlfriend.  She was so sweet and bought me a few tote bags from the Philippines so I wanted to get her something that she would really like and would actually use. Since she’s in the Philippines I wanted to get her something she couldn’t get there so something local a.k.a. made in the USA.

I already knew this was going to be a challenge.  Hardly anything is made in the USA anymore.  It’s either made in China or some 3rd world country in southeast Asia, pretty much anywhere but here.  Why is that?  Two words.  CHEAP LABOR.  Many companies have been outsourcing their labor to 3rd world countries because the cost of living in these places are low and many people are eager to work.  There is HUGE debate surrounding this topic.  On one side outsourcing creates jobs in these countries and essentially helps a workforce who hardly had any jobs to begin with and on the other side outsourcing is exploitation, companies are taking advantage of people who are less fortunate to make a profit.  I found a great debate started by a small business entrepreneur if you want to learn more about this issue.

For me personally, I don’t TOTALLY disagree with outsourcing.  In a perfect world though I would prefer it didn’t happen.  In my opinion outsourcing feeds on a colonial mentality.  Companies seek out people who are at a disadvantage, bribe them with riches & a dream of a better life, make a profit off of their backs, and leave them out in the cold if cheaper labor is to be found elsewhere.  I’m not saying ALL companies are like this, but from what I’ve seen, read, and heard about a majority are.  I feel that we should leave other countries alone already!  Many things we (as a nation) do seems to keep others oppressed whether intentional or not.  It’s so deeply rooted that we don’t even realize it anymore. In my best sarcastic tone, “We’re helping others by giving them work while companies/corporations make thousands, millions, even billions off of them?  It’s not our fault their cost of living is much lower than ours.”  Come on are you for real?!?

So I’m trying to buy from socially responsible companies i.e. they treat their workers fairly, give them a fair wage/benefits, hire locally.  But before that I’m trying to shed myself of the consumerism bullshit I’ve been fed to pretty much since I was born (aka stop buying shit I don’t really need).  This is really hard for me because I LOVE shopping and I was raised where shopping was a favorite past time, but I’m slowly getting better.

Back to my brother’s girlfriend and my quest for something made in the US.  I remembered that I once bought these knee high socks awhile back at a store called American Apparel.  They advertise that they are vertically integrated.  Back then I had no idea or interest as to what that meant.  I just wanted those damn knee highs.  In essence vertically integrated means that they design, make, and advertise all of their products locally reducing their carbon footprint.  They help sustain the economy by providing work at fair pay with benefits.  WOW!

American Apparel pretty much defines ‘hipster’.  A lot of the clothes are unisex, no labels, hardly any graphics.  Kind of reminiscent of the 80’s but with a modern twist.  A place to buy basics (tshirts, tanks, socks, etc) if that’s not your style.  It is pricier than say Forever 21 but still affordable.  They sell men’s, women’s and kid’s clothes.  Their marketing/ad campaign is somewhat of a controversy and I’m still on the fence if I would recommend shopping there, but they do have a good thing going as far as socially responsible labor practices.

At last the search was over.   Although I may have spent a little more than I wanted, it felt good to know that my money went to supporting a system that benefits WORKERS of the good old USA.