Friday, June 5, 2009

Plastic: the good, the bad, and the ugly

The words of the catchy 90s song don't really apply these days, "life in plastic, it's fantastic!". Do you remember that, the Barbie girl song? Well, lately we've been learning all too well that life with plastic is not so fantastic, and when someone wonders "Good plastic?...Bad Plastic?" on Mamapedia I want to give my honest opinion. At the same time I receive my EWG newsletter in my inbox today about the plot of large corporations to deceive consumers on the BPA issue. So I get all fired up, but no need really - there will always be people who are greedy for money and don't care about the consumer, case closed.

So what are we to do now? Should we vote with our wallet and stop buying all BPA lined cans and all plastic? Raid those cupboards and toss everything we've spent money on because someone finally told us it's not good for our health? What replaces BPA in plastic that is BPA free? Besides convenience for consumer and money savings for the manufacturer, is there any benefit to plastic? I think the issue is much much larger than 'good and bad plastic'. Of course I am referring to plastic that comes in contact with all food and beverages. I am not going to demand to abolish all things plastic - I think that would be silly! So what do you think about the questions I outlined? Post your comments!

Here is what I think. First let's get the BPA thing straight. There is no question BPA is toxic, period. Second, it is now present in everything from breast milk and cord blood to rivers, house dust, and even air. Third, the FDA, time and time again, does not care about the consumer and even has the guts to question and contemplate whether they should ban it! I don't get it, do these people working at FDA not realize that they and their families are just as affected by this as everyone else? What, do they have a 'backup planet' they are planning to migrate to once they bring Earth and its inhabitants to complete destruction? Excuse my sarcasm.

What goes through the minds of people who attended the Joint Trade Association meeting that took place on May 28, 2009? Are they seriously going to get a "pregnant young mother who would be willing to speak around the country about the benefits of BPA"? Is this a joke? Unfortunately not, they'll do anything in the name of the $6 billion dollar BPA industry. Where are they going to find this young mother? It is too bad there are so many clueless mothers out there, the corporations will probably take advantage and pay well to some poor mom who will have no idea what she is advertising. Then a few million other moms will actually believe it, I will not be one of them. The thing is, they just will not be able to find a scientific spokesperson to shed any positive light on BPA, because there isn't any! This is very reminiscent of the tobacco industry that started targeting women (Virginia Slims) when their wallet was hit by the FTC and various health groups in the 60s. Some excerpts from the meeting minutes that might convince you this is outrageous:

Attendees believe a balance of legislative and grassroots outreach (to young mothers ages 21-35 and students) is imperative to the stability of their industry.

Attendees suggested using fear tactics (e.g. "Do you want to have access to baby food anymore?") as well as giving control back to consumers (e.g. you have a choice between the more expensive product that is frozen or fresh or foods packaged in cans) as ways to dissuade people from choosing BPA-free packaging.

Focusing on the impact of BPA bans on minorities (Hispanic and African American) and poor is also important.
So what will I do about this? I'll just blog and rant... Then I'll try to continue with the phasing out of plastic used with anything edible in our household. I'll thank EWG for being one of the few that cares about our health and environment. I'll think about how this blog post is like a drop in the bucket, but a few moms will read it. Hopefully someone will listen.

So what other chemicals are present in plastic that we don't know about? I can only guess. On a positive note, there are so many other much less toxic materials that we can use for convenience. I'll stick with my stainless steel, glass, cast iron...

Don't ruin my day and tell me there is something wrong with those materials too!

1 comment:

  1. Hey, It's great to see your post on all this, and I hear you on the frustration about what to DO about it. In addition to limiting your own family's exposure, there are 2 bills worth supporting - personally and on your blog. 1) The fed BPA ban that's moving thru Congress right now; we plan our e-actions very strategically, so when/if the time comes we'll email you to get involved that way. 2) Support the Kid-Safe Chemicals Act. Hose a house party, meet with your US Senators *in person* - we'll help. Sign and spread "The Declaration" so we can make a powerful consumer statement in DC: http://www.kidsafechemicals.org. And finally, call me or email me - my role at EWG is as an online parent organizer, and I started in this by being a parent who was all riled up and blogging about it, so I'm right there with you. We *can* make these changes, and the time is now. Let's do it.


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