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My Kids — The Joy and the Plastic: A Guest Post from Amber Strocel

Posted By Beth Terry On May 20, 2009 @ 8:00 am In Children and Toys,Interviews and Guest Posts | 18 Comments

The following is a guest post by blogger Amber Strocel who contends with child-related plastic. She’s found quite a few plastic-free alternatives and would like to hear your suggestions for ways to further reduce.

I’m Amber, and I’m a married mom living in Metro Vancouver, Canada. I am a big fan of Fake Plastic Fish, so I am very excited to write a guest post! You can normally find me on my own blog at Strocel.com [1] where I write a lot about my life in the suburbs with my two beautiful children. My daughter Hannah is four years old, and baby Jacob is 9 months. They are the light of my life, the source of great joy, the apple of my eye. All that good stuff. They also use a lot of plastic. Potty chairs, car seats, baby bathtubs, dishes, toys, the list is more than a little overwhelming.

I’ve always been environmentally conscious, or at least moderately so. I didn’t have many concerns with plastic in particular, though, until April of 2008. At that time Health Canada [2], a very main-stream government agency that advises Canadians on health issues, announced that it would be banning the use of bisphenol A [3] from baby bottles and formula cans. Bisphenol A is a chemical found in certain types of plastic. I was pregnant at the time, and I had a 3-year-old. I certainly didn’t want to expose my baby or my preschooler to a potentially harmful substance. I also wondered what other chemicals might be found in the plastic items we used every day. The items my children love to play with and suck on.

Hannah sucking on a Happy Meal toy [4]

My daughter Hannah puts a plastic toy in her mouth

When the announcement came about bisphenol A I had already been taking steps to reduce my plastic consumption, along with my consumption in general. I was using cloth shopping bags, for example, and cutting back on packaged and processed foods. I also breastfeed, which eliminates formula cans, baby bottles, and associated plastic. To further reduce our plastic use I decided to get rid of our bottled water delivery and drink tap water, and I bought stainless steel water bottles and sippy cups. I started buying milk in glass bottles. When the kid’s plastic cutlery wore out I didn’t replace them, and instead bought some small stainless steel spoons to use with the baby.

The potty [5]

The potty – an example of the plastic baby gear that fills my home

The most significant reduction I made in disposable plastic happened when I decided to use cloth diapers and wipes on my son. The disposable diapers and wipes I used with my daughter generated a lot of garbage. We used a diaper disposal system that twisted dirty diapers into long diaper sausages wrapped in scented plastic film. The ‘refill packs’ of plastic film were large, made of plastic, and non-recyclable. And of course there was the packaging and all that jazz that came with the diapers and supplies.

Jacob and his diaper pail [6]

Baby Jacob and the pail to hold his cloth diapers

Even as I was working to reduce plastic, though, my preschooler was acquiring more. At 4 my daughter is very familiar with popular children’s characters, and loves them deeply. She also loves plastic toys that make noise and light up. These toys are very appealing and I would have loved them as a 4-year-old, too. Hannah is not shy about telling everyone she wants a singing doll or a trip to a fast food restaurant with its accompanying free toy. And her adoring relatives just want to make her happy.

A pile of cheap plastic toys [7]

A pile of cheap plastic toys

My daughter’s love of plastic leaves me feeling conflicted. How can I strike a reasonable balance? I fear that if I take the hard line it will just mean years of therapy later. Laying the weight of the world’s problems at the feet of a 4-year-old doesn’t exactly seem fair. On the other hand, when I look at the packaging that comes with a single plastic doll, which is quickly broken and ends up in the garbage, I feel a little ill. This is not an ethic I want to support. In fact, producing mounds of cheap plastic using dubious manufacturing standards is exactly what got us into our present environmental mess.

Baby gate [8]

We also have plastic baby gates

I think a lot of parents struggle with the question of how to impart their values to their children in a balanced and reasonable way. Especially when the children are too young to really understand the bigger picture. For now I have decided that I will do my best to be a good example. I will work to reduce the plastic we consume, as well as the plastic we give to others. I will choose sustainably and ethically manufactured toys, made from natural materials. I will explain my choices to my children in age-appropriate ways. And I will understand if my children’s grandparents really want to gift them with a special toy. In the long run, I hope that my example is what they will remember, long after the cheap plastic toys have died.

But if anyone has a better suggestion for getting rid of the cheap plastic stuff that litters our house, I am all ears.

Article printed from My Plastic-free Life: http://myplasticfreelife.com

URL to article: http://myplasticfreelife.com/2009/05/my-kids-joy-and-plastic-guest-post-from/

URLs in this post:

[1] Strocel.com: http://www.strocel.com

[2] Health Canada: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ahc-asc/index-eng.php

[3] banning the use of bisphenol A: http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/C-1.68/page-20.html?texthighlight=baby%20bottles#sched2

[4] Image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/strocel/3528803853/

[5] Image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/strocel/3529615922/

[6] Image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/strocel/3528804215/

[7] Image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/strocel/3528803765/

[8] Image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/strocel/3529615848/

[9] Image: https://plus.google.com/+BethTerry

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