The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

Category Archives: Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)

February 21, 2014

Opting Out of Toxic Checkbook Covers

Have you ever considered your checkbook cover? If you’re like me, you might be so accustomed to paying bills online that you don’t even remember where your checkbook is.  But I’m thinking about mine today because of an article I just read in Environmental Health News. Apparently, Deluxe, the main provider of personal checks for most of America, has reached a settlement to remove a toxic phthalate called DEHP from its plastic checkbook covers by June 2015.  According to the organization Healthcare Without Harm, DEHP “can damage the liver, kidneys, lungs and reproductive system — particularly the developing testes….”  And the chemical is listed by the State of California as a carcinogen and male developmental toxicant.

Opting Out

Deluxe may be reformulating its covers, but who knows what chemical they will substitute for DEHP.  And the covers are still non-biodegradable plastic. So I called Deluxe … Read the rest

October 15, 2012

Our Petitions Make a Difference: Say No to Disney’s Toxic Lunchboxes & Yes to Safer Chemicals

Stop what you’re doing for a second.  I want you to start a petition.  Or at least sign one. Today is Blog Action Day, an annual event when bloggers all over the world band together to write posts on the same theme.  And this year’s theme is “The Power of We.”  It’s one thing for each of us to do our part in making changes in our personal lives to reduce our plastic consumption.  But if we want to truly protect the planet from the tons of toxic chemicals that are released into our air, water, and soil, we need to make our voices heard together, as a group.  And these days, it’s not really so hard to do.  With sites like that make it easy to create a petition and promote it virally via social media, anyone can take action for systemic change–flex our “citizen muscles,” as Annie Leonard puts it.

Tell Disney to get the Phthalates out of kids’ lunchboxes

When blogger Lori Alper of … Read the rest

July 31, 2012

What’s Plastic Got to Do with Clean Air?

If I asked you to list the problems with plastic, you might mention toxic chemicals like BPA or phthalates; or the fact that it doesn’t biodegrade; or that animals ingest it; or that there is a toxic soup of plastic swirling around in the world’s oceans.  Those are the issues I’ve focused on for the past 5 years, so last year, when Moms Clean Air Force asked me to write a blog post for them, I balked.  “Clean air is a vitally important environmental issue,” I said, “but my blog focuses on plastic, not air.  Plus, I’m behind on writing my new book Plastic-Free and have no time to delve into other subjects.”

Silly me.  As I researched the book, I learned about many ways that the life cycle of plastic contributes to air pollution, both indoor and out, and that reducing our plastic consumption will help to protect the air we breathe.  So here are a few reasons why those of us concerned about reducing plastic… Read the rest

August 30, 2010

Back to School Vinyl and Styrofoam. Sometimes Retro Isn’t Cool.

How often do we hear ourselves bemoaning the plastic world we’ve created and wishing we could go back to the good old days before our disposable culture got the better of us? I was having a few of those thoughts last night when I realized that as far as school lunches are concerned, some things may have gotten worse, but we also have some better options now than those available when I was a kid.

In 1974, way, way, way back in the day, “Back to School” meant I finally got new clothes for the year.  Not that the clothes ever lived up to my fantasy of for once having a wardrobe that would make me popular.  Designer jeans?  Forget it.  My mom didn’t let me wear pants to school until I was in 5th grade.  Every year, my new duds would start out two sizes too big (to grow into) and be two sizes too small before I could have new ones.  “No, I’m not preparing for a flood, you guys.  Leave me alone.”

My younger sisters had… Read the rest

January 29, 2010

Ice Pack, Heating Pad, Rice Sock

Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC, commonly known as vinyl), Polyurethane foam (foam rubber), Polyster. All these poly’s. All non-biodegradable plastics. Not so good for our health or that of the planet, right? And yet so many health products are made from these materials. Take electric heating pads and gel ice packs, for example.

My cold packs are made of gel in PVC bags. And my heating pad is made from layers of PVC, polyurethane foam, and synthetic fabric. We worry about the chemicals released when we heat plastic food containers in the microwave: hormone disrupting phthalates, for example. So why would we put PVC in a heating pad?… Read the rest

October 28, 2009

Fantastic Letter from PolarSolar to Fake Plastic Fish

While I was away this weekend, I received this email from a San Francisco company that installs solar water heaters:

from Joseph Wright to Beth Terry date Sun, Oct 25, 2009 at 5:05 PM subject Thanks and Question

Hi Beth,

I wanted to write to let you know what a hero you are of mine and I want to thank you for the positive influence that you have on the lives of others and the environment…I also have a question…I am a fellow Bay Area native and I operate a sustainable water heating business — after reading your recent blog post I have decided to eliminate PVC from our materials list (obviously very common plumbing material) and we will never look back… I have reposted your entry on our blog and was wondering if you would prefer some other way for us to refer to your information. I hope that all is well and I look forward to more of your inspiring ideas and calls to action…

Highest Regards,


Joe Wright… Read the rest

August 4, 2009

The Dangers of PVC Plastic

The Center for Health, Environment, & Justice has released its Back to School Guide to PVC-Free School Supplies. It’s a free downloadable guide to all the products kids might need for school, from binders and notebooks to clothes, electronics, lunch boxes, and a host of other products. It includes a comprehensive guide to suppliers as well as general rules to keep in mind.

So what’s wrong with PVC?

I’ve ranted about PVC products quite often on this blog, but in case you missed those posts, here’s a quick summary:

1. PVC is the only major plastic that contains chlorine, so it is unique in the hazards it creates. During production, PVC plants can release dioxins which harm workers and community members who live nearby. Residents of certain towns in Louisiana, which is home to half the PVC production facilities in the USA, have been shown to have much higher concentrations of dioxins in their blood than the average U.S. … Read the rest

March 6, 2009

Plastic Gift Cards: Re-use, Recycle, Speak Out!

I’ve been carrying around two plastic movie theater gift cards for over a year. Gifts from co-workers, they are much-appreciated because they represent gifts of experiences (movies) rather than more stuff. The fact that I still have them simply means I need to get out more. But the cards themselves, of course, are made from plastic. And what happens to that plastic at the end of its life? Unlike credit cards which must be destroyed for security reasons, some gift cards can keep on giving.

The Problem

Gift cards are made from PVC, one of the most toxic plastics from cradle to grave. Each year, according to Plenty Magazine, “a whopping 75 million pounds of polyvinyl chloride material from plastic cards enters America’s waste stream.”

Reduce, Re-use

Several companies (Target, Borders, REI, Wal-Mart) offer biodegradable gift cards made from corn, while others provide reloadable cards, also decreasing the need for new … Read the rest

May 22, 2008

When giving literally hurts

A few weeks ago, I decided to give a pint. Of blood, that is. What were you thinking? Guinness? I’m almost embarassed to admit that it was my very first time ever donating blood, and the only reason I even thought of it was because someone from the Red Cross cold called me and said, “We’re scheduling residents of North Oakland for their blood donations, can I put you down for Wednesday at 3pm?” And I was like, “Um… no… how about Monday?”

I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of it before. I guess it’s like how I never really worried about plastic until I saw the picture of the dead albatross a year ago. So maybe I’ll become a blood-donating addict. But probably not. Because, even though my experience was very positive, and I’ll certainly do it again, there are some worrisome things about the way the Red Cross collects and stores blood that are of concern for Fake Plastic Fishies.… Read the rest

March 18, 2008

Blue Vinyl: A Toxic Love Story

I was sick as a dog this weekend and spent all day Saturday on the couch watching videos. Many readers, after reading about my purges (here and here and here) of #3 PVC containers and a MultiPure water filter system containing PVC, recommended Blue Vinyl to me. But I just never had time to sit down and watch it until I was too sick to do anything else.

Wow. Thank you to everyone who recommended this film. And for those who haven’t seen it, run out NOW and get it. Rent it from Netflix, borrow it from the library or from a friend who has it, or buy your own copy to share with your friends.  (If you purchase via links in this post, My Plastic-Free Life earns a small percentage!)  I just ordered mine, as this DVD is one piece of plastic I hope to get a lot of use from.

Watching this film gave me such hope for what we can do as individuals if we put our minds to it. It’s the personal story of the filmmaker, Judith Helfand, who reveals right from the start that she’s… Read the rest