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Archive for the ‘Plastic’ Category

Ever since our family did a one-week garbage-free experiment last summer, I’ve been trying to keep our kids’ packed lunches and snacks as litterless as possible. The average Canadian kid’s lunch (like the one pictured above) is estimated to create about 30 kg of waste each year. I’d been at the kids’ schools at lunch and snack time and had been surprised by the amount of garbage being produced.

We have piles of reusable plastic containers, water bottles, real cutlery and cloth napkins that the kids are very good about returning in their lunch boxes each day. We also have a plastic bento-box style lunch kit that is great for lunches. We got ours as gifts from Laptop Lunches and they are sturdy, clean easily and can carry a lot of food for a hungry kid.

We also try not to pack individually-wrapped foods such as granola bars or cheese sticks. The kids take juice boxes from time to time, but usually have water or juice in a reusable bottle. They bring home any small plastic sandwich bags or snack-size bags to be recycled. It would be nice if our older child’s elementary school could provide recycling facilities in the lunchroom, but that’s something I hope to raise with the school shortly.

Here’s a picture of one of our kids’ lunches that I made last week:

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Yes, it’s true, she has a paper napkin but that’s because all the cloth napkins were in the laundry that day!! Besides, she brought it home and it went straight into the compost.

I also picked up stainless-steel water bottles for the kids to use after reading several reports raising concerns about dangerous chemicals leaching from plastic water bottles into water. They love them, but they were a bit pricey so every time they leave the house they get a “Don’t lose your water bottle!!” reminder. So far, so good….

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This story by my colleague Michelle Lalonde at the Montreal Gazette had me rounding up our plastic sippy cups and the kids’ drinking cups and checking their bottoms for the right recycling symbols – if it has a 7 inside that little triangle, there’s a good chance they contain the dangerous chemical bisphenol A.

Here’s what Environmental Defence had to say this week about its new research on baby bottles and bisphenol A:

A new study by Environmental Defence shows that a harmful chemical, bisphenol A, leaches from popular brands of plastic baby bottles found on Canadian store shelves. Bisphenol A, is a known hormone disruptor and is associated with adverse health effects, including breast and prostate cancer, early puberty in girls, attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder, and obesity.

From Toxic Nation, here’s a list of safe plastic baby bottle alternatives.

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Something fishy

When I was a teenager growing up in Eastern Ontario, people used to rave about the Lancaster perch, a freshwater fish locals caught in the nearby St. Lawrence River. It was a speciality at local greasy spoons, and a treat at community events. But it always seemed a risky idea to me to eat it, coming as it did from the St. Lawrence River. My parents never took us swimming in the river, even though it was a quick car trip away. Too much pollution, they said.

I was reminded of the Lancaster perch fish frys, and my parents’ wariness of the St. Lawrence River when I heard this piece by the CBC’s Loreen Pindera on The Current today. The report discussed plastics and chemicals that act as endocrine disrupters — basically, they mimic hormones. What really caught my attention was the work of some McGill University researchers, who discovered male fish downstream in the St. Lawrence from Montreal with ovaries. The researchers said the male fish were becoming females because of endocrine disrupters found in the river. When they fed the fish to rats, they found the rats’ fertility was compromised.

Yet another reason that I’m glad I don’t eat fish from the St. Lawrence. And I plan, on an upcoming trip to Ottawa, to hit this store in Wakefield, Qc. that sells non-plastic food containers. We try to use reusable containers for lunches, but with three young girls at home, I’d rather pack their food in containers that aren’t leaching chemicals into their food.

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