Like many other people, I’m concerned about the environment. When I consider issues like climate change, our exposure to toxins and the stress that our natural world is under, I often feel overwhelmed. It’s tempting to just hide my head and ignore it all, to be quite honest. It certainly would cause me less internal angst every time I go to the grocery store or plan a family vacation.
In spite of the temptation to pretend as if the problems facing our environment are not an issue, I can’t ignore them. Once you know something, you can’t un-know it. Yes, it might be a bit inconvenient. But in the face of despair, I choose hope. The way that I choose hope is by taking action, and making changes. I trust that these changes will make a difference, and have an impact.
I’ve decided that for 2012 I will take one small step each month to become more green. It feels manageable, and tangible, and hopeful. And I’m starting by looking at PVC.
PVC, or polyvinyl chloride, is a type of plastic. Because it is cheap and durable, Wikipedia says that it is the third most widely-used plastic. It is also toxic. After reading The Non-Toxic Avenger by Deanna Duke (who, incidentally, will be on my podcast on Friday), I started to become concerned about the PVC in our home, and I decided to take steps to eliminate it.
The first place I looked at was food. If PVC is toxic, I really don’t want to be eating off of it. Many insulated lunchboxes have PVC linings – including, quite possibly, the ones my children were using. I tracked down an alternative that’s lead, phthalate, PVC and BPA free. They also happen to be super-cute, which helped to sell my kids on the change. We also had some old PVC place mats, and I decided to just use our cloth place mats instead. It’s also possible that the cling wrap in my kitchen drawer contains PVC, but I haven’t used that in ages. My husband still does, so for now we’re keeping it.
There’s some PVC in our house outside of the kitchen. Jacob had a PVC raincoat, but it doesn’t currently fit him and he doesn’t really like it, so it went into my donation bin. There’s likely PVC piping in my house, and I won’t be getting rid of that – it wouldn’t be practical. I have a PVC-free shower curtain, so I’m clear on that front. I have some PVC binders. I’ll be looking for an alternative for the binders that are still in use, and getting rid of the stack of old empty ones from our laundry room.
Our toy box presents a particular challenge. Based on my internet research, it seems that toys like My Little Pony and possibly Barbie contain PVC. It’s hard to get a clear answer, and it would also be hard to force my daughter to get rid of every toy that may be at issue. Instead, since we’re going through a post-Christmas-de-clutter, I plan to pick out the toys I think may be a problem, and work it out with her.
Getting rid of the PVC in our house won’t reduce my carbon footprint, but it will hopefully reduce my family’s exposure to toxins, and I feel good about that. It feels like good progress for January.
Are you concerned about potential toxins in your home – and what do you do with them when you find them? I’d like to hear your thoughts!